Spolia in Fortifications: Turkey, Syria and North Africa

Download 0.75 Mb.
Date conversion16.05.2016
Size0.75 Mb.
1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11

Levels of Meaning in the Use of Spolia
We can also find perfectly good practical reasons for re-use, with no discernible rationale in either the aesthetic or the historical dimension. Foundations get re-used because they are convenient and strong; squared blocks because they are to hand or easily transportable to the site of the new works, being by the sea140; tombstones make good facing panels or paving slabs; column shafts make good tie-bars; marble veneer is easily re-locatable; and marble makes excellent lime141. Indeed, the use of classical blocks for quoins, with the remainder of tile, rubble and mortar, has been described as a rule-of-thumb building technique found all over Europe from the Tyne to the Tarygetus and extending chronologically from the late Roman to modern times.142 Not that transport presented insuperable problems, if we are to believe a ninth-century account of using spolia from Estremadura and transporting them by river and sea to Santiago143. Similarly, the Muslims took spolia from Acre for Cairo, from Carthage to Damascus, and from the Dome of the Rock to Mecca.144
In any search for “meaningful” use of spolia, a major problem is that in our area the use of spolia is the norm not the exception, since it is only natural to use what is to hand. But does using a Greek relief, with inscription, as a scrubbing board for washing, have meaning145? Or a column shaft to keep an earth roof rolled flat146? What about those cases where antiquities are used for support or as containers, such as pagan altars as legs to Christan altars, cannon, or capitals as Holy Water stoups ? Is such reuse triumphalist in some way, or merely practical147? For example, at Lepcis Magna, where a Roman triumphal arch is incorporated into the later enceinte148. Grouping and consistency of such use in the West would suggest that it does indeed carry meaning149 None of this, of course, excludes an aesthetic appreciation of the past, and an impulse to use it, possibly for propaganda purposes with which we might identify. There are good, practical reasons why some antique sites were left alone, and equally good ones why others were robbed bare. But could it ever be shown in East or West that architectural antiquities (and sculpture) were left alone precisely because they were antique, and therefore in some way special? Survival and re-use always seems to have involved practicalities: usefulness as a conversion; strength as a fortification; certainly prestige in a new location – but never apparently the almost exclusively 19 and 20thth century reaction of preserving the past in its original state just because of its age and just because it is numinous.
The reputation of marble continues in the widespread reworking of antique slabs and columns for tomb markers. The practice continued in North Africa into this century,150 and is observable on many sites in Turkey, such as the small cemetery amongst the Byzantine churches at Kanytelleis, where one uses an upturned Byzantine acanthus capital as headstone, and at least fifteen use parts of column shafts; the latest grave apparently dated 1965. The practice is also well documented by travellers. In 1800, a Frenchman reported the use of column shafts, some 15 feet high, as well as capitals, friezes and architraves - all in use a grave markers near the Maeander at the village of Guzzel-Kissana.151 A little later, Arundell came across a Greek stone-mason at Denizli reworking a frieze into a tombstone. It had come from Laodicea (which the Muslims had sacked in 1188, admiring its marbled porticoes and stone buildings, and carting off the material to Syria152): In fact, the immense quantities of stone which are daily brought from thence for building and other uses will very speedily destroy the remains, numerous as they are, which at present exist; and the demolition will be complete, as they have now begun to excavate, and are daily digging up and splitting the finest sculptured marbles.153 On at least one occasion the Crusaders may have built a fort at Antioch of Turkish tombstones, surely as a deliberate insult154 - although another source says that "pagan" sarcophagi were used.155
Much less casual is the gathering of spolia for large monuments such as gates and arches. Constantine may be the first emperor to export spolia from West to East, and possibly in the other direction as well. Holloway contends, however,is that there is no program, hence no real meaning, in the spolia on the Arch of Constantine, many shipped, he believes, from Greece or Asia Minor. For him, the spolia are simply a decorative but miscellaneous collection of sculpture, and hence no attempt to associate Constantine with the past grandeur of earlier Roman emperors. But is it likely that several cubic tons of marble, a long inscription, and so many reliefs, have been put together jigsaw-wise into a triumphal arch without plan, program or meaning? Or simply more likely that we can grasp the aesthetics but not specify the program? Without this apparently pioneering example of the application of spolia to political ends, can a specific rationale be found for later re-use of spolia beyond that of an appreciation of the beauty of the constituent materials (as in tombstones), or vague aesthetics?
But by Holloway’s own argument, shipping enormous panels back from the East must surely have some aim, otherwise why not use equally "meaningless" panels from Rome? To which we should add other scholarly opinion that at least some of the reliefs came from the Forum of Trajan - a conjunction which must have been meaningful, as might the use of Pentelic marble. So are there other instances of Constantine’s engagement with the past, which can help us? Yes: there is evidence at least of Constantine’s fondness for marbles and columns, because he insisted on high-quality materials, and on approving the objects selected for work on the sacred places of Jerusalem, which were to be gathered from various unspecified locations; and given the phraseology there is a high likelihood that he meant spolia156. Again, his adornment of Constantinople can surely be seen as an antiquarian act, and one continued by hjis successors157: pagan priests were ordered to bring statues out of wherever they had hidden them; precious metals were stripped from them and melted down for the public purse, and the bronzes were kept to adorn the City158. (The deliberate hiding of pagan antiquities continues right up to Late Antiquity159.)
A Turkish story may reflect a folk-memory of Constantine's gathering of spolia: Constantinople was built by Solomon, who wanted a pompissimo palazzo. The steps taken to build it may reflect knowledge of spolia fortifications still extant in the Greek Islands, such as Paros: Solomon commanded the winds to built the palace, in search of the materials for which they went through Arabia, Persia, India, and so on, and finally arrived alli nobilissimi paesi della Grecia, ad un luogo vicino all’Archipelago, posto tra la Seruta e la Ionia, trouvorono un luogo molto ameno, chiamato li monti d’Aidingik, ove si trovano ancora li vestigi, e chiamato il luogo della circuittone, la fabricorono con grandissima diligenza la rocca e il Palazzo; mentre questi spiriti correvano per il mondo, trovorono in Berez e in Kaf molte minere di marmore del quale, come anco de altri adobbamenti ne portorono seco, preparorono marmore di diversi colori, formorono diverse colonne, fre le quali n’erano ancora colonne porfiretiche, le quali havevano preparate nel paese di Kaf, e hoggi di si vedono in Constantinopoli nella Chiesa di Santa Sofia (dicono che il altri luoghi non si trova pietra Porfiretica) convenuti li spiriti, fabricarono una rocca e un Palazzo, al quale nissuno era simile nell’universo.160 Other stories concern Arabic building to rival those of fabled antiquity161, including the use of marble and glass.162
Such stories record effort, if not meaning. But we can record meaning in the accurate reuse of spolia in Turkish sites. At Ephesus, the Baths of Scolastica are of spolia, but we cannot determine a programme therein; however, the nearby Temple of Hadrian, the restoration of which can be precisely dated to 383, used spolia reliefs of the city's founding, together with representations of Theodosius and Arcadius, in order to underline the continuity of tradition.163 This, at the very least, is the meaning of the Arch of Constantine, and the peopling of Constantinople with spolia from Rome, where the present is associated with the past. It is also the impulse for military use of spolia, as we shall see below.

The Decline of Urban Life, I: Spolia in Defensive Architecture
Such large quantities of spolia are available in our area because, probably from the 6 century, there was a decline of urban life; and although the process probably began from a more prosperous base than it did in the West, and in cities of greater magnificence, its tell-tale features are to be seen throughout Turkey, Syria and North Africa. (Of course, not all antique structures or fortresses were in cities, and many such artificial emplacements also declined, releasing spolia, as conditions changedth.) Taking as a suitable measure the twenty cities of Byzantine Asia named in a list compiled by the tenth-century Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus, Clive Foss164 has concluded that in Turkey there was a significant decline in standards of urban life, of population and of commerce; and he gives summaries of the situation at centres such as Ephesus, Sardis, Miletus, Priene, Pergamon, Smyrna and Magnesia. Similarly, there are indicators of decline in Byzantine North Africa, such as much smaller new churches165, although the extent of city-dwelling is a matter of fierce debate166.
As in the West, three factors determined mediaeval use of (and perhaps attitudes to) earlier buildings:

  1. The range of building types was now too large for reduced needs; so that as activities declined, so the buildings they supported (from the bath and the agora to the colonnaded street and the temple) became surplus to requirements, probably in the course of just a few generations. Fountains lost their water; and the pipes became furred, as at Perge, where this still in evidence at the acropolis fountain and in the baths to the north of the south gate – surely signs of long-time neglect;

  2. The longevity of antique walls and fortresses provided a constant reminder of the greater glories of the past. Strongly built, they long survive more fragile structures such as temples, and many continue in use when temples decay or, like Baalbec or Didyma, are converted into forts.167 Mediaeval fortress builders would have been well aware of previous achievements in the genre, the more so because not only must later forts obey exactly the same strategic imperatives, but also because so many of them are built directly on top of earlier walls, and perforce reuse the materials on site. To take examples from just one area - the Morea - the fortresses of Corone, Zarnata, Old Navarino, Methone, Arkadia, Argos, Patras are all in this category168.

  3. Finally, the inability of reduced populations to defend existing enceintes required the construction of smaller ones. One factor promoting the use of spolia is the dearth of quarrying. It is probable that quarry production declined drastically (but perhaps never ceased) in Turkey during the Byzantine period169, just as it did further West - so the re-use of earlier architecture and sculpture from now-unneeded buildings was an obvious course of action to take. Again, no proof has emerged yet of the re-opening of quarries in the 9 century in Proconnesus, Attica, Phrygia, or in the Islands of the Aegean. Sodini has suggestedth that quarries slowed down and perhaps stopped between proto- and medio-byzantine periods, with a decrease in colonnaded streets, and basilican churches replaced by small Greek-cross employing few columns, so that diversity is replaced by Empire-wide homogeneity. Perhaps, therefore, the very diversity of spolia in a sea of uniformity is a factor in their popularity, especially when we add Sodini’s observation of a progressive return to antiquarian sculpture, especially in 14 century Constantinople.

What happened to existing sets of city walls in the East when urban life declined? From records of refurbishment in the Late Empire, with proclamations of renovatio which we have already surveyed, it is clear that the concept of the city as an entity protecting its citizens continued but, given a lower population, there seem to be no cities in Turkey (with the exception of Constantinople) in which the originally designed or upgraded circumference of walls could be defended. At Ephesus, for example, large areas of the city were in ruin by the time of Diocletian, at the end of the third century AD; and although some monuments were repaired under the Tetrarchs, with a spurt of work in the fourth and early fifth centuries, and some prestigious Christian ones built (such as the Church of St. John), the city soon had to respond to the Persian invasions. Ephesus built a new wall, using spolia, encompassing only a proportion of the classical city (abandoning, for example, the Agora), and incorporated within that wall suitable monuments, such as the theatre. We find older materials being regularly re-used for refurbishment - such as in the Baths of Scolastica, or in the great marble streets at Ephesus, the flanking colonnades of which are assembled from a curious mixture of columns of different materials and girth, all of which must have been robbed from earlier, now derelict buildings.

This is exactly what happened in Western Europe over a similar range of centuries, as the monuments of erstwhile Roman cities were dismantled for use in city walls which covered only a part of the existing urban area, as a long-term response to waves of barbarian invasions. There are instances in Italy, but pitifully few in France, where spolia are reused in such walls with some semblance of message. There are many more spolia walls in Turkey, and it is not diffcult to read such reuse as bearing meaning.

The Decline of Urban Life, II: The Stripping of Cities
As a result of the decline in population, trade and civic life in Turkey and North Africa, we must picture even greater quantities of building material than still survive lying for centuries in deserted antique cities - which was also the case in the early mediaeval West. And the desire for sturdy construction caused castle builders to go in search of convenient building blocks and other members, which they found in great quantities by stripping decayed cities. A large number of these in Turkey, and several of the important ones in North Africa, are situated on a river and/or near the sea, so transport was no problemth- even, perhaps, from Greece to Venice.170 Post-mediaeval maps and charts, whilst not an infallible guide, indicate that many of the antique centres were calling-points, or points de repere, for trade, as they were earlier for pilgrims.Beaufort's survey of the south coast for the Admiralty in 1810-12 notes. that, In a naval point of view, the resources of the coast of Karamania must be considered important; and he goes on to list the quality of the harbours, water, wood, and food supplies, none of which had diminished by his day. Much still remains on such sites, but it is certain that large numbers of buildings have completely gone - and now reside in the walls of mediaeval fortresses. As we shall see in a survey of spolia defences, the walls of the city of Nicaea (built in two sets in the third and 13 centuries) and those of the fortress at Seljuk, amongst others, provide conspicuous examples of this process.
There are four reasons for stripping cities of their materials:

  1. The re-use of fallen antiquities in houses, or to make walls for sheep-pens and the like. Thus the frons scenae of the theatre at Alabanda is still a pig-sty with the farm attached; and at Uzancaburc village walls are still constructed from column drums, just as they were of Doric capitals at Assos. Another good place to see this would be Aizanoi, where the people still live amongst and still make use of the ruins, because the site has not been tidied up by the archaeologists: it is still a lived-in antique city, and we can still walk around it with Fellows’ description in our hands, and make full sense of what we read.th

  2. As well as building materials, mediaeval searchers also needed metal, especially lead and iron, for daily needs as well as for weapons and especially missiles - but not for cramping mediaeval walls. Both these metals were used in Antiquity as cramps (sometimes iron covered in lead) to hold together the blocks of large antique walls. There was perhaps plenty of metal to be found in exposed walls. At Nyssa, for instance, the retaining walls of the theatre were half-buried long ago by a land-slip; and although the upper sections, dirty through long exposure to the air, have been robbed of cramping materials, nobody bothered to dig into the earth to rob the lower sections which, recently uncovered, are now fully in view, pristine-clean and undamaged;

  3. The thirst for antique columns to be used in contemporary buildings is important all over the ex-Roman world because of its effect on the dismantling of antique structures, Matching sets seem to have been as prized in the East as in the West, and the idea has a long pedigree: for example, S. Agnese fuori le Mura, Rome, where great care has been taken, and the best columns go nearest the altar; and Old S. Peter's171. In the East, we find Justinian importing large and impressive columns from various parts of the Mediterranean for his building projects in Constantinople. There are few mosques of the Seljuk period or later which do not boast several antique columns or pieces of architectural decoration, and it sometimes seems that remarking on matching sets of columns might indicate that make-and-mend sets were commonplace172. The consequent destruction of any building of which columns formed a part is easily illustrated: Bernardo Michelozzi and Bonsignore Bonsignori went to Turkey in 1497/8, and wrote interesting letters back to their home city of Florence173. They visited one of the great temples, that of Hadrian at Cyzicus, and were amazed by its dimensions, with 70-foot columns and Corinthian capitals nine feet in height. Others had been impressed before them: Cyzicus’ convenient location near the Sea of Marmora meant that Justinian took spoils for Hagia Sophia (completed 548), and the Turks (much later) for the Suleymaniye Mosque, building between 1550 and 1557. Material was also disappearing in the 15 century as well: for Ciriaco, who visited and drew the site in the middle of the century, counted more columns than Michelozzi. We do not know whether columns were still being carted off for use (and, if so, to where); but Bonsignore does refer to the Turkish propensity for refashioning the drums (10 of which made up one column) into cannon balls (this is dealt with in detail below), and Ciriaco refers to the destruction of the temple in his day by lime-burners.

  4. Finally, and particularly relevant to our purpose, enormous quantities of spolia disappeared into defensive walls, frequently for display, but sometimes as mere infill. An example of "hidden" antiquities from Greece would be the protection afforded the pedimental sculptures of the Temple of Zeus and, for Turkey, the preservation of the reliefs of the Great Altar of Zeus, at Pergamum. Because of the monumental nature of the original constructions, the walls built with blocks from older monuments are often very thick, and sometimes even double-skinned (as at Saintes or Bordeaux in France); hence they have been a prime agent in preserving both bas-reliefs and architectural members;

Antique columns were fashionable throughout Italy and parts of France, but were used in the East not just for churches and then mosques, but also in very large quantities for fortress building, as we shall see. Everywhere, the later the (post-antique) building, the less likely it is to find a set of matching columns, let alone capitals and bases. Such "marble starvation" does not matter in fortress construction, but is perfectly obvious in religious buildings, where various devices (differential heights for impost blocks or bases; adding sections to damaged columns; reserving the good material for the presbyterium) must needs be employed. Here are two contrasting Turkish examples, one early, one late:

  1. In an interesting case in AD 400, Bishop Antoninus of Ephesus was charged with theft, and actually deposed, for going against the strictures of Constantine the Great and taking columns from the adjacent church to decorate his dining-room, and marble from the baptistery for his bathth (and, incidentally, public baths may still have been functioning in Lycia in the 6 century or even laterth, as they probably were in Antioch, and displaying art as well174). Parallel examples can be demonstrated from the ongoing excavations at Aphrodisias;

  2. The second example is the Great Mosque at Adana (a city not far from a whole range of antique sites) which was built beginning in 1513, and opened for worship in 1541. There are re-used classical columns in the partly-covered courtard and also inside the mosque. Five large, matched grey-white columns grace the interior, but there were insufficient sets of smaller columns to use in the courtyard. The builders have disguised this fact by adopting two procedures (both of them seen further West as well, and in profusion): they have alternated granite with marble columns for the front rank, choosing complete columns for the purpose; then, for the posterior rank, they have carefully pieced and stuck together marble shaft-pieces, sometimes from similar but not identical marbles. Indeed, closer study shows that even the front-rank marble and granite columns, although similar, are by no means identical in material, height or girth. From such painstaking work we may certainly deduce the scarcity of suites of columns, but also suspect that it reflects the prestige in which antiquities were frequently held.

Such marble starvation occurred even in towns such as Seljuk, and it was apparently not satiable by looking around nearby Ephesus, probably because most useful and beautiful material had already been picked over by the fortress builders, and used in enormous quantities in the road-facing defensive walls; so that anything further was difficult to retrieve. Evidence for this can be found in the Isa Bey Mosque, just below the lower fortress, and built in 1375. The courtyard is adorned half-and-half with granite and veined grey-white marble columns, with different bases and capitals - some of the latter antique, others in Moorish stalactite design. And although the granite columns are placed together, they match neither for height nor girth. Inside the mosque, the enormous granite columns (for which the builders have provided new stalactite capitals) can only have come from some very large Roman building at Ephesus.

Late Antique Walls: Aesthetics and Defence
The walls and gates imitated in mediaeval times are the obvious ones, the standard for embellishment in the West being Rome and, in the East, Constantinople. Here the Porta Aurea was beautified by statues and reliefs175 (the statue of Theodosius the Great only fell in 739/40AD in an earthquake176) and formed an important element in Imperial ceremonial177. The flanking wall also appears to have been decorated with marble and granite column shafts, as Lafitte Clave observes178 in his military reconnaissance of 1784: toute cette partie de l'enceinte a été autrefois réparée avec des colonnes et des pierres d'entablement d'anciens édifices grecs et romains que les Turcs n'ont pas respectés: on les voit sur le parement de la muraille et on peut lire sur quelques unes des restes des inscriptions grecques. In Constantinople, up to the Sack of 1204, pagan statuary of the city was still considered to be an essential element of the city’s iconography, culturally and aesthetic ally.179 When the Bulgarian Krousmmos, the new Senaccherab, sacked Constantinople in 812/813AD after having admired the walls of the city, he carted away bronzes and marbles. To the disappointment and puzzlement of later travellers (as we have seen), almost nothing was left beyond the Hercules reliefs by the time Mehmet took the city.180 Krousmmos was following a tradition much older than Julius Caesar at Corinth or Verres in Sicily, and one which the Turks also followed.181
The state entrance into the capital, the Golden Gate was architecturally splendid, and was built of large square blocks of polished marble fitted together without cement, and flanked by two great towers of the same material182. Van Millingen listed183 amonst the other decoration a cross, a Victory, a crowned female figure (the city’s Tyche), a statue of Theodosius the Great, a bronze group of four elephants; and the gates of Monpseuesta, gilded and placed here by Nicephorus Phocas, as a trophy of his campaign in Cilicia; a Roman eagle at the SW angle of the N Tower; a laureated XP over the central archway on the city side; and twelve bas-reliefrs of classical subjects. It would be interesting to know how large a proportion of these adornments were spolia. Sir Thomas Roe, British Ambassador from 1621-8 (and with Earl of Arundel behind him), tried to get them, but after negociations the locals reckoned that the City would collapse if the reliefs were removed so, says Roe, they are like to stand, till they fall by tyme. And so they did: Spon admires various bas-reliefs in 1675, Sestini in 1778 notes that some reliefs are still in place; but Dallaway in 1795 states that those of Hercules have been brought down by an earthquake, and the Punishment of Prometheus mutilated by the Turks, who have walled up the gate. And the most exquisite fragments of finely sculptured columns, friezes, etc still littered the area in the early 19 century.th Other parts of the walls were also decorated, such as near Bab Kapoussi along the Golden Horn, where one arched entrance had a bas-relief on either side, of which only the Nike on the E side has survived. The Golden Gate also had propylea, with columns of green marble, colonettes and pilasters, and was closed with gates of bronze (Macoudi) or iron covered with gold (Edressi)184
A description of the Golden Gate is appropriate here, not only because it incorporated spolia, but precisely because its richness set a standard for others to follow. The Golden Gate was therefore lavish in materials and decoration, impressed medieval travellers greatly when it was perhaps but little decayed, and was coveted for its reliefs even when dilapidated (although, of course, there was little else in the City of similar date). We shall see the Golden Gate imitated in other cities in Turkey, such as Nicaea and Thessaloniki with, in consequence, a lavish use of spolia.
Unlike Constantinople, which kept her fourth-century size, most mediaeval enceintes are smaller than their antique counterparts, and built from spolia released by the shrinkage: given both a smaller population and the consequent impossibility of defending the existing walls, those monuments within the walls but outside any newly chosen defensive position are bound to be either abandoned or sacrificed for building material. An old idea is that such walls were built quickly as a response to immediate threat, so that the constructors, lacking the time to use newly cut stone (or perhaps lacking the necessary resources) have simply taken what came most conveniently to hand, and cleared away earlier monuments, possibly already in a state of collapse. This theory takes some believing, especially for anyone who has actually built anything, knows the ways of builders185 or, indeed, has examined French enceintes such as Le Mans, Beauvais or Sens186. Shunning material already on or near the site, especially high-quality squared blocks, would have been perverse indeed, since every builder yearns for a straight edge and a square corner - qualities for which Roman materials were, as we have seen, much prized.187 Even the apparently brutal reuse of funerary material (a practice at least as old as classical Athens) is for a good reason, since areas extra muros, where the cemeteries were located, needed to be cleared for military purposes, to ease troop movements. What is more, building brick or rubble walls would have been much easier, and surely equal to the scarce artillery and siege machinery of any likely invader. Thus we may conclude that admiration for the achievements of the past occasioned the use of spolia to produce smaller enceintes which yet retained the aura of the classical city about them, and proclaimed their heritage. That we must look for an aesthetic explanation (without necessarily imposing any concepts of decadence) for the appearance of spolia walls is underlined by parallel use in churches, where speed of construction did not matter.188 Even the argument that spolia were used for convenience does not negate an aesthetic appreciation of their qualities.
But the “rush” argument is not yet dead, the speed of marauding Arab cavalry189 being paraded to explain what are perceived as badly-built walls in North Africa, with violence done to bas-reliefs – when it is obvious that these would be used face-inwards so as to present a smooth surface to the outside, with practicalities winning over aesthetics. As always, applying a different aesthetic viewpoint changes the nature of the argument. Thus at Thessaloniki, J.M. Spieser sees the walls as 249-250AD at the latest, and les remplois, provenant en grande partie des monuments funéraires, indiquent une reconstruction hative190. But his Plates XII & XIII show redan 86, with beautiful marble blocks in careful reuse, and scarcely hative. His Plate IX shows redan 97, south face, with hippodrome seats in re-use (they go as far south as Odos Egnatia). Since the hippodrome was located in the south corner of the walls, east-facing, we should ask why it is therefore that enormous quantities of its seats are re-used in the west walls, to a consistent height, and (by Odos Eirinis) carefully stepping down the hill so much so that the walls (partly dug out to their probable ground level) gleam white with marble? Surely because (by analogy with Nicaea and Constantinople), they flank the main gate – the Porta Aurea, and hence provide decoration in the most prestigiously classical manner possible. Similarly, the fort of the Heptapyrgion uses large quantities of column shafts, proud of the wall and angled, in careful courses alternating with tile; and at Odos Klavdianos, on the main west road, marble slabs, some of them fourteen feet in length, decorate the remaining complete bastion – another imitation or echo, perhaps, of the Golden Gate at Constantinople, and very splendid.
In Western Europe, such later defensive walls were usually dismantled in the 19 or early 20thth centuries191; in Turkey, the excavators are in some cases still doing so, in order the better to study the monuments from which they were built. At the same time we can study how monuments became spolia. They might have been taken from complete as well as from ruinous monuments. Foss, for example192, examining the seventh-century acropolis wall at Pergamum, and noting the use of the elements of the adjacent Temple of Faustina carefully laid in reverse order (architrave at the bottom, columns, and so on upward), suggests the whole structure was dismantled on the spot – in a spoliate version of “Chinese Towers”. This seems likely, for the same thing happened at Mytilene, where the mediaeval walls shelter at least seven identifiable structures, with the spolia grouped together193. In a slightly different case, at Athens, it has been pointed out that the architects of the Beulé Gate to the Acropolis consciously tried to imitate earlier works in their use of spolia, by dismantling a complete 4 century BC choragic monument: of Nikias, and incorporating in its new military setting much of the façade, with cornices, Doric frieze and epistyle blocks, complete with the identifying inscription. Nor is this chance for, in order to reassemble the pieces in the correct order, the workmen cut letters on some of the blocks while still in the original position, and then put them in the proper order to avoid unnecessary cutting and fittingth. This is most unusual, since the usual approach is a straight dismantling which (as at Pergamum) inverts the order of the elements; much the same happens with the complete monuments included in the Herulian Wall at Athens.194 If the Beule Gate was indeed built about the middle of the 3 century ADrd, then this is conceivably the earliest use of meaning-rich spolia from the Graeco-Roman world. It is not the only sensitive translation of spolia for an identical use: at Bodrum, that the Knights did re-use for the original purpose when they could is suggested by the complete architrave beam from the Mausoleum built into the castle195. At Aphrodisias, the smallish hill to the south of site (and called the acropolis) was defended, using spolia from nearby monuments, including the theatre and the adjacent theatre baths, and arranging them decoratively. At Miletus, where the only highish ground has the theatre built against it, it was necessarily the theatre which was converted into a fortress by the Byzantines, towers of which are still to be seen196. At Ayasoluk, 23 coins of Constans have been found, which provides some supporting evidence.197
Where high ground was not available, convenient monuments would be employed to help make a smaller set of defences, and reduce the amount of building work required. At the flat peninsular site of Side, for example, the extent of the Roman defences was effectively halved about the middle of the fourth century by building a second wall at a narrower point along the finger of land, and employing the theatre walls in the process. Here a high arched gateway flanking the theatre was roughly filled in with stones, to make an aperture small enough to close with a gate. Although obviously make-and-mend in view of the treatment meted out to the now-external monuments, it features column shafts and blocks, which are used in the new wall in great quantities. The date of such work is unclear but, according to Foss, who discards a dated inscription because he believes it is itself a spoil198, the repairs to the Hellenistic walls are a response to the Isaurian threat, and the inner gate, with spolia, of the 7 century - just as the entrance to the citadel at Sardis boasts a third-century inscription, although it too is 7thth century.
A concern for monumentality attained by the employment of spolia is frequently in evidence, not only in defensive walls, but in civic structures inside the city. At Side, this takes the form not merely of the careful decoration of the new walls with the spolia, but also of the construction of a new monumental gateway which, like the previous (outer) one, has a monumental fountain adjacent to it (although the fountain antedates the gate). At Aphrodisias, we find restoration of the Agora Gate and its adaptation as a fountain199. At Ephesus, the Library of Celsus was apparently ruinous at about the same period, and its facade was converted into a fountain embellished with spolia reliefs (Amazono- Giganto- and Centauromachies) brought from elsewhere in the city. Thus possible influence from one site to the other, and a suggested date of 435/6 – which accords with an increase in building activities at both sites in the mid- and later 5 century. However, at Side such refinement is not extended to the later gate, by the side of the fountain, which blocks up the large arch to make a much smaller opening, and column shafts are incorporated in the infill in regular courses. The effect for the outer face is arguably decorative but, although the courses are well-laid, using large blocks and slimmer entablature blocks, and presumably the granite column shafts from the adjacent agora, it is not easy to see what final effect was intended because the opening remains like gaping teeth in an open mouth. And on the inside, the builders have not even bothered to saw level those shafts which are too long, although perhaps they were rubbled or plastered over. At Xanthus, parts of several monuments were retrieved by Fellows from the defensive wall built on top of the theatre; at Bodrum, the Mausoleum reliefs were decoratively displayed in the Knights' castle; at Pergamum, sculptures from the Altar of Zeus were also retrieved from a Byzantine defensive wall which, however, did not display them decoratively - although Winnefeld wondersth whether Cyriaco’s reference to colossaeque de marmore deorum herounve simulachra might be sightings of pieces of the Gigantomachy; given later accounts, this is quite possible. This, and indeed the whole upper city, survived much better than the buildings in the valley. Ibn Battuta, for example, when he visited Pergamum in 1331, found it a city in ruins, with a great and formidable fortress on top of a hill.200 But this fortress did display the usual column shafts, neatly laid, together with other marble spolia although not, apparently, reliefs201.
In North Africa202 there are handsome forts which are clearly Byzantine (because they are comparable with similar ones in Asia Minor), as well as fortifications which were clearly thrown up in a great hurry (and, as it now appears, in unsuitable places). In this latter category are the fort at Haidra, which is surely the most spectacular of all such works; and the fort of similarly large dimensions at Ain Tounga, overlooking the main road through the pass. But the Triumphal Arch at Haidra is also fortified by being encased in additional (spolia) masonry and, to modern eyes, looks a mess. Likewise the Capitol temple at Dougga was once presumably completely fortified. But we must remember local conditions, including lack of manpower, equipment, transport or quarries, all of which bedevilled the French in Algeria (see below).
One antique practice which, curiously, the Middle Ages did not try to imitate (except perhaps at Arles) was to relate the famous dead to the august antiquity of the city by associating standing funerary monuments with the walls and approach-roads (although on one occasion at Antioch tombs were dismantled for fort-building203). The practice was common in Turkey, so there was no shortage of possible models, such as the streets of tombs at Hierapolis, or great tomb terraces at Elaiussa Sebaste, surely designed to be seen from out to sea. Again, at Kyaneae, the north-east wall of the city is beautified (in much the same way as the southern approaches to Termessus) by siting sarcophagi on top204. In places, column shafts are also employed in a much less suave fashion. Since the main approach to the city was indeed from the north-east, is this then, simply imitation of the “conspicuous display”, of the earlier builders, with the walls and the crowds of free-standing Lycean sarcophagi emphasising the venerable antiquity of Kyaneae? Probably, because the city also boasted an elaborately “triumphal” entrance gate, with pilasters and capitals, if no reliefs, which must have impressed her later inhabitants205. We have seen how, for Leo Africanus, the incorporation of Roman inscriptions in enceintes is a type of triumphalism: might it also be argued that placing specifically funerary inscriptions in walls is itself intended as a proof of venerable antiquity?
1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11

The database is protected by copyright ©essaydocs.org 2016
send message

    Main page