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Melli

Melli

Melli

The ancient city of 'Melli' is located approximately one kilometre from the present village of Kocaaliler and about 26 km south of the town of Bucak in the province of Burdur. In spite of a rich colection of inscriptions, the ancient name of the site remains unknown. In antiquity, Cremna and Sia were the neighbouring cities to the north and south respectively. The site occupies a high, rocky outcrop in the vicinity of a small plain with arable land. At limited distance from the site, the land peaks in all directions.

In Antiquity, the city was entered from the north, as the well-preserved road still proves. Before reaching the actual city, it passes an extensive necropolis and ends at the city's fortifications.

The fortifications still encircle the entire city, despite having collapsed. To the east, south and west, the city walls follow the contour of the edge of the plateau whereas on the north side the wall crosses the plateau. Especially on the east side, where the fortifications rose from substantive substructions over very steep slopes, damage is considerable. The remains of well-constructed towers still flank the main city gate and traces of at least one more tower were identified in the north wall, the side from which the city was most easily accessible.

Within the fortifications, ancient buildings are well preserved. The ruins are concentrated around the peak of the outcrop, on two small plateaus of which the higher one slightly tilts towards the east. Direct connection between the northern city gate and the official centre was secured by the main road, running parallel to the eastern city walls. Along the northeast side of the plateau, terrace walls were constructed in order to enlarge the available terrain for buildings. Among the better preserved public monuments figure the remains of a small theatre, a temple, a sebasteion, the agora and a market building. Reserach showed that the small agora and the adjacent market building can be dated to the later hellenistic period, when the official buildings in the city centre seem to have been monumentalised in a relatively short period of time. The construction date of the small templum in antis with simplified architectural order is unclear, but its position, isolated from the hellenistic agora and adjacent monuments, seems to point to a younger date. Many structural alterations on these monuments can be dated to the imperial period, during which the agora was embellished with numerous honorific monuments and connected to the buildings to its east by means of a monumental staircase over its whole length. At the end of the second or in the beginning of the third century AD, a small theatre completed the monumental apparatus of this small city.

At some point in the middle-Imperial period, a large cistern was constructed towards the north of the north necropolis area of Melli, its location being carefully chosen at the bottom of a large and faint cavea-like dip in the landscape, as such collecting the rainwater from the entire surrounding area. Its location should probably be connected to a large, very poorly preserved monumental building to the east of the cistern. The remains however, still allow an identification as a large bath complex with marble revetment and heated rooms. Its position outside the city walls, to the north of the necropolis, is probably due to lack of a place inside the city for a large bath and cistern complex.

Throughout the city, the reconversions of the official buildings in the late Antique and early Christian period are obvious. At some point, open squares and pagan temples were no longer of importance and were overbuilt by small constructions or incorporated into larger architectural units. Contemporarily, two early Christian basilicas were constructed in the centre of the ancient city. In order to build these, older pagan monuments were demolished or (partially) incorporated. During the same period, the streets of the antique city were partially reduced to narrow alleyways, reflecting the same phenomenon of encroachment.

In the necropoleis, both monumental tombs, such as temple-shaped examples or sarcophagi, and more simple ones are well preserved. Few seem to date from the hellenistic period, monuments from the imperial time are far more numerous and differentiated. In the early Christian period, basilicas rose in this area too. Several reconversions and changements to the churches seem to point to a long existence.