Limyra - Zemuri

Limyra is located 5 km north of Finike, at the southernmost tip of the Bey Mountains. The Lycian name of the city is Zemuri. If this name can be associated with Zumarri of the Hittite texts as suggested by some scholars, it would take the history of the city much earlier. However, archaeological findings do not date before the 7th century BCE. It is known that the city had minted coins under its own name since the 5th century BCE. The city made its name known with Perikle, the Limyra Dynast in the dynastic period. In the second quarter of the 4th century BCE, the conflict between the Lycian Dynasts reached its peak. Perikle conquered Xanthos, the most powerful city of the period, and dominated all of Lycia (see Descriptions). The 4th century BCE is also the period when Limyra experienced important developments in terms of urbanization and building program. All of the necropolises containing approximately 500 dynastic period tombs are dated to the 4th century BCE. Limyra has the most number of tombs among all Lycian cities. There are Lycian inscriptions on 59 of those tombs, which constitute about a third of all known Lycian inscriptions. Charles Robert Cockerel was the first researcher who visited the the city in 1812. The regular excavations were initiated by Jürgen Borchhardt in 1969.

Heroon of Perikle

The remains of the monument were found in 1966 by Borchhardt. It was built on a rocky terrace at the south-facing lower elevation of the Limyra acropolis and has a magnificent view of the surrounding area. It is very likely that the mausoleum, which is dated to the middle of the 4th century BCE, was built for Perikle, the famous Lycian dynast of the period. It is a temple shaped structure rising on a foundation with a base of 10.4×6.8 m. The 3.8 m high podium also includes a hyposorion (burial chamber). There are four caryatids instead of columns as roof-bearing elements on each of the northern and southern façades. In this way, it reminds the Erecteion in Athens and is the only such example in Lycia. There is no decoration on the cut stones of the podium. Eastern and western walls of the 6-meter-long cella behind the caryatids are decorated with a row of friezes. It depicts a scene of a military procession. The friezes on the east and west façades are almost mirror copies of each other. The processions on both sides are advancing from north to south. There are different opinions as to whether the prominent rider figures in this procession were Perikle or the Persian King or both. In the central acroter on the north façade, beheading of Medusa by Perseus is depicted. The acroters in the right and left corners are probably represent Medusa’s sisters. Although not much remains of the acroters on the southern side, according to Borchhardt, they depicted the fight of Bellerophon and his winged horse Pegasus with the Chimaera or the Amazons. Thus, Perikle legitimized her rule through her Lycian ancestor Bellerophon and Persian ancestor Perseus. The parts of the monument that were unearthed by the excavations are in the Antalya Museum.


It is a cult monument built during the Hellenistic period when Lycia was under the rule of Ptolemaic Kingdom. Nevzat Çevik defines the monument as the best example of the Hellenistic art in all of Lycia. The monument was found and described by Borchhardt in 1982 during the Limyra excavations. It was established to the south of the theater, in a central location of the lower city. The monument was destroyed, probably as a result of earthquakes, and only the 3-step podium remains. During the Byzantine period, a fortification wall was built right on top of this podium. The plan of the monument was identified after many blocks of it were unearthed during the excavations. It is in the form of a circular temple on a square based podium. The 10 m high podium stands on a 3-stepped socle with square ground plan ca 15 m per side. The conic shaped roof over the circular temple is supported by 12 Doric columns. The high podium does not contain a burial chamber and it is unclear whether there was a cella inside the temple. The pieces of reliefs adorning the architrave of the podium and lion statues placed on the corners of the podium were also found during the excavations. Some of the pieces still preserve the traces of their original paints. One of the statue heads found was identified as a portrait of Ptolemy III. However, the stylistic classification of the architectural sculptures and decorations points to the period of Ptolemy II. Accordingly, the monument is dated to the 3rd century BCE and defined as an imperial cult temple built for the Ptolemaic Royal family.


It is a symbolic tomb built for Gaius Caesar, the grandson and declared heir of Roman Emperor Augustus. Gaius Caesar died in Limyra on February 21, CE 4, while returning from a diplomatic mission to the East. His bodily remains (more likely his ashes) was sent to Rome and interred in the Mausoleum of Augustus, and this cenotaph monument (symbolic tomb) was built in Limyra where he died. Today, only the massive core of the monument is preserved in the west side of the lower town, rising up above a limestone foundation and socle of limestone ashlar blocks. Travelers of 19th century thought that this structure could be a watchtower or lighthouse. After Borchhardt’s excavations in 1971, the stepped foundation with a square ground plan ca 17 m per side was unearthed, and further pieces of it were found in the filling debris in the Byzantine period structures around. The monument was originally covered with marble plaques and it was surrounded with a 60 m long frieze depicting the life of Gaius Caesar in 1:1 scale. It is thought that the building terminated with a pyramidal roof.

Limyra Necropolis I

The westernmost one of the six necropolis sites of Limyra is Necropolis I, approximately 5 km from the city. It consists of 9 rock tombs built on the cliffs on the east side of the entrance to the Arykandos Valley to the northwest of Limyra. The classical wooden house-imitated Lycian tombs of this necropolis I of Limyra are the most beautiful and best preserved examples in Lycia.

Limyra Necropolis II

Necropolis II to the west of the city walls of Limyra is the largest of all Lycia. There are more than 250 rock tombs and sarcophagi.

Tomb of Tebursseli

One of the most remarkable rock cut tombs in Necropolis II is that of Tebursseli. Above the tomb, there is a battle scene relief and a Lycian inscription. The translation of the inscription by Günter Neumann is as follows: “Tebursseli, father of Zzaja, built this tomb in the reign of Perikle, buried Lysander’s sister and Xntabura’s, founded (or dedicated) (this) in honor of Lysander and the king. Victorious Tebursseli built this when he, together with Perikle, destroyed Arttum̃para and the army of Mpara.” According to Borchhardt, the two figures in the middle of the relief, who are standing back to back and fighting their enemies, are King Perikle (on the right – the larger one) and his commander Tebursseli (on the left). While Perikle is fighting against five enemy soldiers at the same time, Tebursseli is fighting an enemy commander. The scene describes the war against Arttum̃para, as stated in the inscription. The victorious character on the left side of the scene could be Lysander of Limyra.

Limyra Necropolises III, IV, V

Necropolis sites numbered III, IV and V were established at intervals along the mountain slope starting from the immediate vicinity of the theater building and extending towards the east. The most crowded one is Necropolis V, with more than 50 tombs. Apart from these necropolises, there are a few more rock-tombs which are outside the urban area but still within the vicinity.

Tomb of Xntabura

It is one the most remarkable monuments of Limyra in the Necropolis III to the east of the theatre. The tomb is distinguished from others by its size, over 4 meters high, and rich iconographic decorations. It has a two-story sarcophagus (with a hyposorion underneath) and a ogival-shaped lid. Three sides of the hyposorion are decorated with reliefs. Although the relief on the north face has been badly damaged, it is thought that there is a 4-horse chariot (quadriga) scene which is common on its counterparts in Lycia. On the west face, there is a naked youth figure standing between two seated old man. The name Xntabura inscribed next to this youth suggests that this person was the owner of the tomb.


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Image sources:
C. R. Cockerell, 1820
E. Petersen & F. Von Luschan, 1889
Limyra Excavation Archive
iDAI Arachne ID:1964349
iDAI Arachne ID:191091
J. Borchhardt, 1974, 1999
J. Borchhardt et al., 1988
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N. Başgelen, 2005
J. Borchhardt & A. Pekridou-Gorecki, 2012
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M. Seyer, 2016
Bora Bilgin, 2022, 2023
Tayfun Bilgin, 2022, 2023
Ertuğrul Anıl, 2023
Reha Özer, 2023