Tlos - Tlawa

Tlos is located on the eastern side of the Xanthos Valley at the foot of the Kragos Mountains (Akdağlar), 25 km north of the city of Xanthos. It was first identified by Charles Fellows in 1838. The Lycian name of the city is Tlawa. In Hittite sources, it is mentioned as Dalawa. The researches carried out in Tlos and its surroundings date the settlement of the region back to the 10th millennium BCE. Tlos was one of the most powerful cities of Lycia. According to Strabo, in 100 BCE, Tlos was one of the 6 big cities that had three votes in the Lycian League. In the Patara Road Monument, the city of Tlos is shown at the intersection of seven different road routes.
Regular excavations in the city continues since 2005. The dynastic period settlement is on the acropolis hill. The most important monuments remaining from this period are the rock tombs around the acropolis. During the Hellenistic period, the city expanded from the skirts of the acropolis to the east. The Roman period city center spreads eastward from the plain at the foot of the acropolis. There is a 148-meter-long stadium built on the plain, and 9 rows of seats which are leaning on the acropolis hill are still visible. The large Roman theater with 37 rows of seats is in the east of the Roman period building group consisting of agora, gymnasion, palaestra, baths and temples. The theater was first built in the Hellenistic period and expanded in the Roman period. There is also a Doric theater temple built in the middle of the upper cavea in the theater, which is a rare feature in Anatolia. A similar structure only exists in the theater of Patara. It is thought that this temple was added to the theater during the Augustus period and was used as a prophecy center for a long time. Another temple in Corinthian order, which is located in the west of the agora, is also unique in Lycia as it is dedicated to Kronos.

Izraza Monument

Although the monument is in fragments and quite worn, it is remarkable with its rich reliefs. Charles Fellows took the plaster casts of the reliefs in 1842 but Spratt and Forbes (1847) was the first to mention this monument in their travel notes. However, until it was moved to the Fethiye Museum in 1974, the monument was further fragmented and was put together from six pieces. Its surviving shape consists of two rectangular prisms placed on top of each other in a pyramidal form. The surfaces of the prisms are decorated with reliefs. The purpose of the monument is controversial. War and victory scenes depicted in the reliefs are frequently recurring themes in Lycian tomb culture. For this reason, it is thought to be a funerary monument by most researchers. However, in terms of form, it does not show any similarity with any Lycian tomb monument. The name “Izraza” is written in Lycian letters next to one of the warriors on two separate faces (TL 24). The same name is also mentioned in another Lycian inscription (TL-26), which was used as a spolia in the theatre building. Borchhard suggests that this fragmentary inscription may be a part of the Izraza monument and that it may be a dedicatory monument to the gods for a victory won by Izraza. It is dated between 350-330 BCE.

Bellerophon Tomb

Around the Tlos acropolis, in addition to many classical Lycian style rock tombs with imitated wooden structure, there are also a few tombs with temple facades. Among them, one especially stands out from the others with its size and rich decoration. The tomb has an Ionic temple style façade with its four columns, architrave, and triangular pediment. Behind the façade, there is an anteroom which with two doorways gives access to two separate burial chambers. The rock surface between these two doorways is carved in the shape of a two-winged pseudo-door in the Ionic style. Animal depictions adorn the upper and lower parts of the doorways. There is another relief on the upper part of the left wall of the anteroom which shows the Lycian mythological hero Bellerophone after whom the tomb is named. Bellerophone is shown with his winged horse Pegasus fighting against the creature called Chimaera. Since the details of the columns in the Ionic style have not been processed, it gives the feeling that the tomb was not completed. On the other hand, the examinations show that this tomb was re-used in later periods. Inside the triangular pediment of the facade, there is another very worn relief. A long-haired male bust appears in the center of the relief. He holds a double-edged ax in one hand and a lightning bolt(?) in the other. There are two lions lying down on either side of him. Male figure with double-axe and lighting bolt, which does not fit well with the Lycian tomb culture, and rather reminds the depictions of the Anatolian Storm God (Tarhunna of the Hittites or Tarhunza of the Luwians). It is thought to belong to Storm God’s counterpart in Lycia, Trggas. The Lycian inscription on the left side of the temple façade states that this tomb belongs to Hrixttibili and his wife. The tomb, dated to the first half of the 5th century BCE, is probably the oldest tomb structure at Tlos.


Benndorf, O. & G. Niemann. 1884. Reisen in Lykien und Karien (Reisen im südwestlichen Kleinasien I), Wien.
Borchhardt, J., G. Neumann & K. Schulz. 1976. ‘Das Izraza-Monument von Tlos’, RA1, 76-90.
Fellows, C. 1839. A Journal Written During an Excursion in Asia Minor, London.
Fellows, C. 1847. Lycia, Caria, Lydia, illustrated Mr. George Scharf with descriptive letter-press by Sir Charles Fellows, London.
Işık, F. 2016. ‘The Powerful City of the “Land of Lukka”: Tlos’, in From Lukka to Lycia: The Land of Sarpedon and St. Nicholas, eds. H. İşkan & E. Dündar, 206-223, İstanbul.
Korkut, T., G. Işın, Ç. Uygun & B. Özdemir. 2018. ‘Excavations at the Ancient City of Tlos (2005-2017)’, ANMED 16:132-141.
Korkut, T. 2015a. Akdağlar’ın Yamacında Bir Likya Kenti, Tlos, İstanbul.
Korkut, T. 2015b. ‘Tlos Antik Kenti Bellerophon Kaya Mezarı’, in Studies in Honour of Ömer Özyiğit, eds. E. Okan & C. Atila, 287-299, İstanbul.
Wurster, W. W. 1976. ‘Antike Siedlungen in Lykien. Vorbericht über ein Survey-Unternehmen im. Sommer 1974’, AA48, 23–49.
Yücel, T. 2012. Tlos Izraza Anıtı, Yayınlanmamış Yüksek lisans Tezi, Akdeniz Üniversitesi, Antalya.

Image sources:
British Museum
C. Fellows, 1839, 1847
O. Benndorf & G. Niemann, 1884
W. W. Wurster, 1976
T. Korkut, 2015b
Tayfun Bilgin, 2022
Bora Bilgin, 2022, 2023, 2024
Ertuğrul Anıl, 2024