On the E coast of Lycia, 50 km S-SW of Antalya. Founded according to tradition in 690 B.C. by the Rhodians, Phaselis was the principal commercial port on this coast, at least until the foundation of Attaleia, and shared in the Hellenion at Naukratis in the 6th c. At this time Phaselis was not reckoned as belonging to Lycia, but rather to Pamphylia, as the true and original Lycia did not extend E of the valley of the Alâkir.
Freed against her will from Persian rule by Kimon in 468 (Plut. Cimon 12), the city was enrolled in the Delian Confederacy, with a high tribute equal to that of Ephesos. When Mausolos acquired control of Lycia Phaselis aided him against the Lycian rebellion under Perikles, and concluded a treaty with him about 360 B.C. The city surrendered peaceably to Alexander, who spent some time there in the spring of 333. Taken by siege from Antigonos by Ptolemy in 309, Phaselis remained a Ptolemaic possession until Lycia was overrun by Antiochos III in 197. After Magnesia in 189 Lycia was given to Rhodes, but the gift was rescinded in 167 by the Senate, and Lycia was left free. As a result of this Rhodian occupation Phaselis, being a Rhodian colony, was officially attached to Lycia, and after 167 appears as a member of the Lycian League, striking coins of League type and adopting its magistracies. About 100 B.C., however, Phaselis seems to have been independent (Strab. 667, apparently quoting Artemidoros), and soon after that date was occupied by the pirate Zeniketes until he was suppressed by Servilius Isauricus in 78. After this the city was taken back into the League and continued to function as a full member from then on, her citizens taking predominantly Lycian names. The impoverishment caused by the pirates (Lucan, Pharsalia 249ff) was repaired under the Empire, and a visit by Hadrian about A.D. 129 was splendidly celebrated. Coinage continues down to Gordian III (238-44).
The site is now deserted and overgrown; it has recently been investigated but not excavated. It comprises a headland some 30 m high, with bays on N and S, and ground to the W and N. The city had three harbors (Strab. 666), still recognizable. The first, in the S bay, is the only one now used, and only by small craft; it was protected by a breakwater some 100 m long, of which parts survive under water. Since Pseudo-Skylax in the 4th c. B.C. mentions only one harbor at Phaselis, it is likely that this was the earliest of the three. The N harbor is more of an open roadstead, with reefs offshore connected by an artificial breakwater; there are no remains of other port installations. The third harbor lies between the other two at the N foot of the acropolis hill; it is nearly circular and was closed on the E by a mole; the city wall ran over it, with an entrance 18 m wide towards the S end. On the S bank is a stretch of ancient quay some 40 m long; ships moored to bollards which projected horizontally from its face.
The city wall is preserved only in short stretches. It ran all round the acropolis hill, across the entrance to the closed harbor, along the S shore of the N harbor, and inland for some 45 m to the W; on the seaward side of the acropolis it has been carried away by erosion of the cliffs.
The city center lay at the foot of the hill on the landward side. Its main feature is a paved avenue extending from near the S harbor to the closed harbor, with an obtuse bend in the middle, and lined with buildings on both sides. It is 20-24 m wide, including raised sidewalks. At its SW end stood a triple-arched gateway, now collapsed, which bore a dedication to Hadrian; it was erected for his visit in 129 or 131.
The buildings flanking this avenue date, insofar as they are datable, to the 1st and 2d c. A.D., but later other buildings were added, in some cases overlying the earlier ones. Inside the gate of Hadrian on the right stood a group of rooms, and on the left a large open square, free of buildings, separated from the street by a row of three large chambers; between the second and third an elegant arched doorway is still standing. Farther ahead on the left is the Rectangular Agora, so identified by an inscription; a small church of basilican form was later inserted in its NW part. Across the street is a building complex which may have been a small bath building, adjoined on the N by a building of unknown purpose which projects into the street. The N part of the street was bordered on each side by a row of small chambers, probably shops; the row on the left (W) side is better preserved, but has been overlaid by an early Byzantine bath, to which is attached a columned building of uncertain purpose.
The surface of the acropolis, now heavily overgrown, shows many traces of houses, streets, and cisterns; these are of Roman or later date, but sherds go back to the 4th c. B.C. Two buildings are recognizable towards the S end, together with a round cistern, well preserved, with two of its roof slabs still in place. On the N slope of the hill is the theater, in fair condition but overgrown. The analemmata are in good ashlar masonry and date apparently from the Early Empire. The stage building stands up to 7 m high, but the masonry, especially in the upper parts, is of inferior quality. Five monumental doors opened on to the wooden stage; below these a row of six small doors opened onto the orchestra. On the hillside below are remains of a stepped path leading up to the theater.
To the N of this inhabited area is an extensive marsh, evidently the lake mentioned by Strabo (l.c.). Its water was replaced or supplemented by an aqueduct leading S from a spring, now dry, in the slope of the hill to the N; it ran as far as a knoll across the street from the theater. It is of the familiar Roman form, its arches well preserved in the S part, and dates from the Early Empire.
On the hill just N of the city, 70 m high, is a separate fortified enclosure of Hellenistic date. Its wall is preserved only on the S side; it is 1.7 m thick and stands up to 3 m in places; the masonry is of variable style. Other remains include a gate approached by a zigzag path, a rock sanctuary to the E, and to the SW the foundations of a building with Doric columns which is probably either a temple or a monumental tomb. On the S slopes of the hill and by the shore of the N harbor are other built tombs, but they are not of characteristic Lycian form.
F. Beaufort, Karamania (1818) 61-76;
C. Fellows, Asia Minor (1838) 211; TAM II, 3 (1944)
pp. 413-16; G. E. Bean, Turkey's Southern Shore (1968)
151-64; H. Schläger & J. Schäfer, AA (1971) 542-61
NA , The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites (Trustees of Tufts University, Princeton, N.J.) [word count] [princeton16].