People often will ask me “what is your favorite site in Turkey (or Israel, or Greece, or . . . .)?” I have so many favorites that it is a difficult question to answer, but in Turkey, Sagalassos is one of my top picks.
Sagalassos is a magnificent ancient city located about 80 mi. [130 km.] north of Antalya. It was one of the largest cities of the region/district of Pisidia. Although located in a very remote territory it was conquered by Alexander the Great and it was near one of the ancient roads that ran from Attalia (mod. Antalya)/Perge to Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:13-14; 14:25).
The well–preserved Hellenistic “Fountain House” on the north slope of Sagalassos.
Fountain Houses usually were built at the site of a spring
but were not as elaborate as Nymphaea
This Doric structure is partly reconstructed and actually is functional today!
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Among the many well–preserved remains is a partly reconstructed “Fountain House” from which the inhabitants of Sagalassos could draw water.
Mountains in the region of Sagalassos
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Fountain Houses were common in ancient Greco- Roman Cities. For example compare the ones at ancient Corinth: the “Upper Peirene Spring” on the Acrocorinth; the Peirene Fountain and the Glauke Fountain in lower Corinth; and the Lerna Spring at the Asclepion at Corinth.
Sagalassos has been under excavation since 1990 by a Belgian team led by Mark Waelkens of the Catholic University of Leuven. Because of its remoteness it is very well-preserved and Waelkens’ team has made some outstanding discoveries and has been very diligent in the preservation and restoration of the site.
The Hittites are mentioned 61! times in the Hebrew Bible. Eflatunpinar (map below) is a mysterious, out-of-the-way Hittite site that is located about 50 mi. [80 km.] due west of Konya (classical and biblical Iconium; Acts 13:51; 14; 16:2; 2 Tim 3:11).
Hittite Monument — Spring — Pool
At Eflatunpinar (Eflaltun Pinar) there is a spring and a very well–preserved Hittite monument that dates to the second half of the thirteenth century B.C.—to the reign of the Hittite king Tudhaliya IV (ca. 1259–1229 B.C.)—biblically, about the time of the Israelite conquest of Canaan.
It is actually very possible that the Apostle Paul stopped at this wonderful spring twice as he traveled from Pisidian Antioch to Iconium and back on his first journey (Acts 13:5; 14:21), and as he probably traveled from Iconium to Pisidian Antioch on his second (Acts 16:4-6) and third journeys (Acts 18:22-23).
The monument is a “spring head” that feeds a pool that measures 110 ft. x 100 ft. (34 m. x 30 m.). Eflatun Pinar means “lavender-colored spring.”
Main Hittite Monument
The monument is composed of 19 large stone blocks that measures 23.3 x 23 ft. (7.1 x 7 m.). This upper portion is composed of twelve figures. The two central deities (not well-preserved) are probably the main god and goddess—the symbolism may be that of the gods “who carry the sky and connect it with the earth” (source). These two deities support two two-winged sun disks and above them is a huge two–winged sun disk tops the monument.
On the right side two deities, one on top of the other, are clearly visible–as are their counterparts on the left (west) side of the monument.
Five Mountain Gods
At the base of the monument are five mountain gods. The central three are the best preserved and note how the central three have holes in them—just below their folded arms—through which water originally flowed.
To view the lower portions of these deities when they are not covered by water, Click Here. Additional holes for the discharge of water are clearly visible as are their “skirts.”
To view additional images of Eflatunpinar Click Here.
The moral problems among the “saints” of the church of Corinth are well-known. Writing of days prior to Paul, Strabo said that the Temple of Aphrodite owned one thousand temple–slaves and prostitutes!
Foundational Remains of the Temple of Aphrodite on the Summit of the Acrocorinth