Trysa - Trusñ

Trysa is a small city built on a ridge that runs parallel to the coastline north of the village of Davazlar on the Demre-Kaş highway, about 5 km east of Kyaneai. Its Lycian name is thought to be Trusñ. It must have been an independent city during the Lycian League period on account of the coins minted with its own name. There is no information about the city in ancient sources, and its name is not mentioned in the Patara Road Monument. For this reason, it may seem like an insignificant settlement. However, one of the most famous Lycian dynastic monuments, the Heroon of Trysa, was found in this city (see below). In the modern period, Julian August Schönborn was the first person to visit the city and identify the heroon in 1842. The first publication about the city was made by Benndorf and Niemann in 1884. The ruins of the city are located on the ridge and south-facing slopes. The acropolis, surrounded by walls, is on the east side, which is the highest part of the hill. The necropolis is at the western end and at the lower level of the terraces. Apart from about 30 sarcophagi, some of which are quite high-quality, there is also a pillar tomb that is no longer standing. Only a few of the reliefs surrounding the burial chamber have survived, and it is thought to be one of the oldest pillar tombs in Lycia. Except for tombs and cisterns, the number of structures whose functions can be defined is quite few. Near the necropolis are the remains of a temple that may have been dedicated to Helios or Zeus. It is thought that the city survived until the Byzantine period.

Heroon of Trysa and the Eastern Necropolis

The heroon, which was built with a unique style in Lycian monumental tomb architecture, is located on a ridge at the easternmost end of the acropolis, where the eastern necropolis of the settlement was built. It consists of a rock-cut tomb, imitating classical Lycian wooden house architecture, built in a half acre courtyard surrounded by 3 meters high walls, almost forming a square. Its southern outer walls, gate, and four inner walls were decorated with friezes on the two upper layers of stone. However, it is not possible to see any of them in situ any longer. Only the base of the rock tomb carved from the bedrock and a few fragments of the sarcophagus have survived to the present day. All of the friezes, most of which remained intact, were cut by Benndorf and his team in 1881-1882 and transported to Vienna. Although the tomb structure was shown as a single story in the reconstruction model prepared in 1889 by the guidance of Benndorf and is on display in the museum, later findings suggest that it had two-stories. Since the material of the monument is limestone, the conservation status of the friezes is generally poor. However, the workmanship of the figural reliefs and the compositions of some motifs are unique. In traditional Lycian fashion, the friezes describe the life and achievements of the tomb owner, who is undoubtedly a dynast or a member of the dynast family. The themes of the friezes reflect influences of Greek myths and Persian iconography, and include scenes involving mythological heroes (such as Bellerophon, Perseus, Theseus, Odysseus, Meleager), wars with Amazons and Centaurus, a scene of a city siege, a battle scene (according to researchers it may be the landing in front of Troy or the battle against the Greeks under the command of Melesander). The surviving fragments from the tomb in the courtyard also give an idea about the reliefs on the sarcophagus. According to this, there are depictions of the owner of the tomb in the family circle and at a banquet table. Due to the lack of any inscription, there is no definite idea about the owner of the tomb. Researchers date the tomb to the end of the 5th century BCE and on that account associate it with Trbbenimi who might be the father or brother of Perikle, the dynast of Limyra.
In the eastern necropolis area, there are the remains of three rock tombs and a sarcophagus just east of the heroon walls. All of the rock tombs were classical Lycian house type that imitate wooden architecture, but badly damaged. Only the lower floor of one, which was thought to have been two-storied at one time, remained partially intact. The sarcophagus, which is quite well preserved, was taken to Vienna by Benndorf together with the friezes of the heroon. It was called Dereimis-Aischylos sarcophagus because of the names mentioned in the short Greek inscription on it. While the chest of the sarcophagus, which was standing on a 3-stepped podium, is plain and undecorated, the Lycian style ogival-shaped lid is decorated with rich reliefs.


Benndorf, O. & G. Niemann. 1889. Das Heroon von Gjölbaschi-Trysa, Wien.
Çevik, N. 2021. Lykia Kitabı: Arkeolojisi, Tarihi ve Kültürüyle Batı Antalya, Türk Tarih Kurumu, Ankara.
Landskron, A. 2015. Das Heroon von Trysa, Wien.
Marksteiner, T. 2002. Trysa. Eine zentrallykische Niederlassung im Wandel der Zeit., Wien.
Petersen, E. & F. Von Luschan. 1889. Reisen in Lykien Milyas und Kibyratis. Reisen im Südwestlischen Kleinasien II, Wien.
Plattner G. & A. Gottsmann (eds.) 2022. Das Heroon von Trysa, Akten Akten des Internationalen Symposions, ÖHI in Rom, 28 Oktober 2016, Vol 7.
Wurster, W. W. 1993. ‘Dynast ohne Palast – Überlegungen zum Wohnbereich lykischer Feudalherren’, in: Akten Lykien II Bd. 2, 27-30.

Image sources:
iDAI Arachne ID:1147728
O. Benndorf & G. Niemann, 1889
E. Petersen & F. Von Luschan, 1889
W. W. Wurster, 1993
G. Plattner & A. Gottsman, 2022
Bora Bilgin, 2022
Tayfun Bilgin, 2022
İlkhan Selçuk Erdoğan, 2022
Reha Özer, 2022