Cyaneae (Kyaneai)

Cyaneae - necropolis overlooking the theatre

Cyaneae is a Greek name meaning "dark blue" and also "clashing rocks", though nobody knows why it was so named or which meaning it is supposed to have.  Cyaneae is famous for its many sarcophagi which surround the site.  There may be over 300 of them and this place has the most sarcophagi of any Lycian site.

Cyaneae is situated on a plateau with a rocky slope to the north descending very steeply to the plain of Yavu below.  Two chipped stone axes have been found on the site, but it was probably not continously inhabited until the 5th century BC and was perhaps part of a group of Dynasts' residences in the Yavu mountain region during that time.  In the fourth century BC, during the Early Hellenistic period, Cyaneae became the center of the polis territory. It seems to have been one of Lycia's important cities, given its strategic location and its large settlement area. An ancient road leads directly to the harbour of Teimiussa.  However, though it is listed by many ancient geographers, they give no information about it.  Cayaneae reached its greatest point during the Late Roman and Byzantine periods. Reconstruction work was done and many new buildings were constructed (mainly churches).  The city walls were also slightly extended and some earlier stuctures had to be destroyed, but some were incorportated right into the walls, such as free-standing tombs and sarcophagi.  Cyaneae was abandoned in the 14th century AD, it is thought due to the pressure of the advancing Seljuks.

Pausanias, the Greek historian/geographer of the second century AD tells us of an oracle near the city: "Close to Cyaneae by Lycia, where there is an oracle of Apollon Thyrxeus, the water shows to him who looks into the spring all the things that he wants to behold." -Pausanias 7.21.13

Visiting Cyaneae: This site is not as easy to access as some sites such as Letoon or Xanthos.  There is a hiking trail up from the village of Yavu, off the main Kaş-Finike road.  The hike takes about 45 minutes and my neighbours say it is well worth it.  An alternative is to drive directly to the site, as we did.  About a kilometre southwest of the signpost for Cyaneae on the Kas-Finike road is a track road that winds up to the site (about 4 kilometres), past a semi-nomadic settlement.  I don't recommend this way unless you have a jeep-like vehicle as it would be too rough going for a car.

The city is surrounded on three sides by fortification walls, the southern side is steep enough that walls were not needed.  The walls mostly date from later periods and are of poor construction, with three entrance gates.

Upon the hill of the acropolis, which was the settled area, some classical elements can be seen including preserved stretches of walls, sarcophagi with lovely reliefs, a series of decorated rock-cut tombs.  But the majority of building remains are from the Roman Imperial period (particularly the second century AD).  There are the remains of a bath built in honour of the emperor Antoninus Pius.  There are also inscriptions in which Cyaneaen citizens were proclaimed to be benefactors.

A theatre dating to pre-Roman times, built into the slope of a hill on the west side of the acropolis is well-preserved, though the stage building is in very poor condition.  It has holes for the anchoring of wooden post that must have supported an awning to provide shade.

Sarcophagi and other tombs date from the 4th century BC to Roman Imperial times. One of the oldest sarcophagi is that of a Lycian nobleman by the name of Khudalije and is richly decorated with reliefs.  The necropolis is long and part of it extends along a path between the theatre and the acropolis and contains hundreds of sarcophagi.  Almost all of the sarcophagi here, like the majority in Cyaneae, date from the Roman period.  The second part of the necropolis is located along a difficult to reach cliff of the southern face of the hill with rock-cut tombs of an early date.  An unusual tomb dated to the third century BC is also found here, a simple Ionic temple-type rock-cut tomb once belonging to a certain Perpenesis and his wife as well as some of their relatives. 

Roman period sarcophagus at Cyaneae beween the acropolis and theatre.  The carving on it that looks like a bulldog was perhaps once a lion's face.

Other structures at Cyaneae include the Stheneleion (a market hall that was later turned into a church) at the northern edge of the agora as well as a poorly preserved triple-bayed triumphal arch at the northeast part of the city wall.

Photos of Cyaneae

Photos of the many tombs

The University of Tuebingen Lycia Project's page about Cyaneae,
from which I have taken much information about the site. 
This website also tells about their many projects in the area.