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Tombes de Carie: Architecture funéraire et culture Carienne VIe–IIe siécle av. J.-C.

July 2010 (114.3)

Book Review

Tombes de Carie: Architecture funéraire et culture Carienne VIe–IIe siécle av. J.-C.

By Olivier Henry. With a preface by Pierre Debord. Archéologie & Culture. Pp. 289, figs. 111, pls. 16, table 1, plans 44, maps 15. Presses Universitaires de Rennes, Rennes 2009. €28. ISBN 978-2-7535-0758-6 (paper).

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I have eagerly awaited this monograph on Karian tombs, Karian funerary architecture, and Karian culture. The book is a revised version of Henry’s doctoral thesis of the same title, which was delivered at Université de Bordeaux 3 in 2005. The author’s knowledge of Karia and its unique and varied funerary architecture has been put together the old-fashioned way: by intense travel activities and participation in fieldwork in many Karian landscapes (with Pierre Debord in Bargasa, Harpasa, Orthosia, and Hyllarima; with Fede Berti in Iasos; with Anneliese Peschlow in Latmos-Herakleia; and with Koray Konuk in the Keramos Gulf). Debord has provided a precise preface, setting the stage by framing the historical development of Karia during the sixth to second centuries B.C.E.

This well-organized publication falls into three parts. The first comprises a meticulous analysis of the archaeological material, the basis for the attempt to establish a typology and chronology of the Karian tombs. The second is devoted to various reflections and interpretations of the tombs, placing them in historical and wider archaeological contexts. The third part contains the catalogue.

The book is well illustrated; the color plates are a true joy for those who appreciate the difficulties of photographing rock-cut facade tombs or the interior of tomb chambers, where both light and space are limited. Other welcome illustrations are, for instance, figures 34 and 35, which compare plans and sections of subterranean chamber tombs.

There is no doubt that the author has mastered the archaeological craft. The typological analyses (pt. 1) of a rather heterogeneous material are comprehensive, strict, and thorough. The distribution maps and drawings are clear, and Henry is a skilled photographer. As such, the monograph is a fine contribution to the study of sepulchral architecture in western Anatolia.

Henry sensibly divides the material into six typological groups: (1) sarcophagi, comprising the bedrock-cut type, sarcophagi inside chamber tombs, and the less frequent free-cut sarcophagi, such as the one from the Maussolleion; (2) rock-cut tombs with direct access; (3) rock-cut facade tombs, comprising the special class of the “temple” tombs near Kaunos in the Karian-Lykian borderland; (4) tumuli, most frequently found in inner northeast Karia (only a few examples exist for this period in the Halikarnassos region); (5) built subterranean tombs, with a certain central Karian concentration near Mylasa; and (6) freestanding tombs, the most elaborate being the Maussolleion of Halikarnassos.

I have always found it difficult, if not strangely irrelevant, to put uniform typological labels on many of the Karian chamber tombs. And, although I appreciate Henry’s attempt to bring structure and sense to the material, I also see the deficits in the approach. Figure 36 may illustrate my point. Here, a number of tombs with subterranean chambers and superstructure are grouped together, including the Maussolleion tomb chamber, the built tomb at Labraunda (BT), and the podium tomb at Beçin (T03). However, apart from overall structural similarity (subterranean chamber with superstructure), the tombs show just as many features that separate them as unite them; for example, the terrace or podium in the Beçin tomb lacks the heroon superstructure of the Maussolleion, and the axial multiple chambers of the built tomb in Labraunda relates this tomb to the Maussolleion.

The first chapter of part 2 is devoted to four dynastic tombs that Henry ascribes to the local Karian dynasts and Persian satraps—the Hekatomnids. The earliest tomb in the group is the unique monument at Beçin Kale, hitherto suggested to be a Zeus Karios temple. Beçin was known as the chief city of the region before Mylasa was turned into the satrapal capital, probably in the late fifth century B.C.E. However, as the author demonstrates, the structure is most likely a podium tomb with two parallel tomb chambers, each accessed via a dromos inside the terrace. Henry dates the construction to the late sixth century B.C.E. and suggests that the tomb was built for the earliest known members of a previous Hekatomnid dynasty: perhaps Pixodaros, son of Maussollos of Kindye, known from the Ionian revolt.

The rock-cut facade tomb, the so-called Berber İni, cut into a vertical rock face above a main crossroads just south of Mylasa/Beçin, comes next. Henry dates the tomb to the early fourth century B.C.E. and suggests that it is the tomb of Hekatomnos, father of Maussollos. His interpretation linking the monument to this dynasty is based on the architectural mixture of both Ionian and Doric elements—prominent in the andrones of the Zeus sanctuary at Labraunda—as well as the central position of the monument in the landscape. The Maussolleion at Halikarnassos then comes into play and is compared with the tomb of Cyrus the Great from Pasargadae, also placed within a temenos, and also celebrating the founding father (and divine king) of a dynasty.

Last in the series of dynastic Hekatomnid tombs is the built tomb at Labraunda. The author suggests that the tomb was originally built for one single burial and that it may well have been constructed as the dynastic tomb of Idrieus, the brother of Maussollos, who had a strong position in the sanctuary and at Mylasa.

The monograph ends with a short chapter discussing whether it is possible to define a specific Karian tomb type. Wisely, the author concludes that Karian tombs, Karian funerary architecture, and Karian culture from the sixth to the second centuries B.C.E. are more than anything a blending, or reflection, of acculturation between the Hellenic and the Persian worlds.

Overall, the work is well written and well structured, and it lives up to traditional scholarly standards. It provides an excellent overview of Karian sepulchral architecture, although this particular reader regrets that stronger contributions are not provided toward the lively current debate about Karian culture.

Anne Marie Carstens
The Saxo Institute
University of Copenhagen
2300 Copenhagen S

Book Review of Tombes de Carie: Architecture funéraire et culture Carienne VIe–IIe siécle av. J.-C., by Olivier Henry

Reviewed by Anne Marie Carstens

American Journal of Archaeology Vol. 114, No. 3 (July 2010)

Published online at

DOI: 10.3764/ajaonline1143.Carstens

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