The Discovery of Pepouza and Tymion


On Sept. 13, 2001, the Turkish government gave the Heidelberg team the permit for an archaeological surface survey of the ancient sites of “Pepouza and Tymion” in Phrygia. In preparation for the application for the permit, a decisive trip in the summer of 2000 preceded the field work of 2001. In a paper delivered at Yalvac, Turkey, on July 2, 2000, at the Second International Symposium on Antioch-in-Pisidia, Prof. William Tabbernee of Tulsa (USA) proposed Külköy, Dumanli, and Ücküyü as the most likely locations for Pepouza based on the ancient literary evidence. He thus ruled out the numerous other suggestions (Delihirdirli, Bugdayli, Sirikli, Bekilli, Ikizbaba, etc.), which had been made since the travels in the region of Sir William Ramsay and his student, W. M. Calder, between 1883 and 1931. Tabbernee’s paper was titled, “In Pursuit of Pepouza: Searching for the Archaeological Remains of the Phrygian Center of Montanism.” In this paper he summarized all the known clues about the location of Pepouza. Three of these clues related to a monastery at or very near Pepouza. Later in July 2000 William Tabbernee led a group comprising Peter Lampe, Robert Jewett, Richard Engle, David Killen, Ayse Calik Ross and Hüsam Suleymangil to visit Külköy, Dumanliören, Bekilli, Delihirdirli, and Ücküyü, as well as Hasköy, Kayal, Gürpnar, and Selcikler. The group then still believed Külköy to be the most likely location of Pepouza and therefore planned to ask the Turkish government for permission to undertake an intensive surface survey of the Külköy site. In Külköy the remains of a Byzantine church had recently been detected, and the group discovered an unpublished Christian graffito in its quarry. 

However, in conversations with the director of the Usak Archaeological Museum, Kazim Akbiyikoglu, William Tabbernee and the group also learned about another ancient site completely unknown to the scholarly world up until now. Kazim Akbiyikoglu described a “church in a cave” that could be found there. On July 22, 2000, Kazim Akbiyikoglu led the group to this site. Tramping through a secluded canyon, through river flats oozing with mud, and scrambling up a steep slope in the drenching rain of a thunderstorm, the group climbed up to what turned out to be an impressively huge rock-carved monastery with Byzantine graffiti. Further east, the group identified traces of an extensive settlement and necropolis. As there is no known evidence for a monastery at the other proposed sites, nor indeed in the whole general area where Pepouza must have been located, the existence of this monastery near the remains of a substantial city was a strong reason to identify this unknown site as the ancient Pepouza. According to the ceramic shards, this settlement already existed in Roman times. Moreover, the location of this site south of Usak corresponds perfectly to the geographic clues related to the location of Pepouza in the extant literary sources, especially Hierokles’ Synecdemos (667,6).In light of this literary evidence, each of the earlier proposed sites appear to be situated too far south. 

As it happened, in July 2000 the group also discovered an unpublished inscription, which not long ago had been given to the Usak Museum by a local person. The important inscription enables the group also to identify the location of Tymion, 12 km north of Pepouza.

Thus equipped with two well-based hypotheses about the location of Pepouza and Tymion, the group was able to apply for an archaeological surface survey permit, which was granted in September 2001. Starting in October 2001, Prof. Peter Lampe led a team including Assistant Prof. Ayse Calik Ross and two of her archaeology students from the Anadolu University in Eskisehir, Turkey, Richard Engle of Sioux City, USA, Ugur Hosgören, archaeologist of the Usak Museum, Henning Hupe of Heidelberg, Dr. Richard Petrovszky, archaeologist of the Speyer Museum near Heidelberg, Hüsam Suleymangil of Istanbul, and Prof. William Tabbernee of Tulsa, USA. Consulting members were the archaeologist Prof. Reinhard Stupperich of Heidelberg, the survey specialist Dr. Jens Kamlah of Kiel, and the engineers Jürgen Otto and Andreas Rieger of Karlsruhe. The survey will be continued in 2002 with an enlarged and more interdisciplinary team. 


Besides the rock-carved monastery, the extensive Pepouza area comprises a necropolis with –among others—rock-cut tombs, the remains of rock-cut donkey paths, of a Roman road and bridge, two ancient marble quarries and other evidence of a sizeable city.Of particular interest are the traces of a large public building resting on Byzantine substructure walls on a terrace right above the river. The site of this building, presumably a church, is extremely endangered by the ploughing of the farmers and needs a salvage excavation. The same is true of a nearby catacomb, which is in danger of collapsing any moment and poses a life-threatening risk to anyone entering it.