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The Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Near East What is This? Provides comprehensive coverage of the history and scope of archaeology in the Near East.

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(Lat., Halicarnassus; mod. Bodrum),

city founded by Greek colonists from the northeastern Peloponnesos on the western coast of what is now Turkey around 1000 BCE, but always populated by a large number of Carians (37°03′ N, 27°28′ E). Little is known of the city prior to the classical period and Halikarnassos seems to have experienced its first flourishing during the early and middle part of the fifth century. At that time it was politically dominated by a dynasty whose most famous representative, Artemisia the Elder, fought at Salamis In 480 on the side of the Persian king Xerxes (Herodotus, 7.99). The dynasty was removed from power toward the middle of the century after civil strife in which both the historian Herodotus and his uncle (or cousin) the epic poet Panyasis were involved (Suidas, S. V. Panyasis and Herodotus).

In the fourth century the Hecatomnid dynast Mausolus and his sisters and brothers ruled Halikarnassos in turn as Persian satraps (provincial governors) from 377 to 334, when the city was conquered by Alexander the Great. These decades constitute the most important epoch in the history of Halikarnassos. The Hecatomnids initiated rich building activity both in Halikarnassos and on other sites of the Carian satrapy, thereby giving an impetus to the fourth-century “Ionian renaissance,” which can also be studied in Labraunda, Priene, and in the new temple of Artemis at Ephesus. After Alexander (r. 332–323), the city entered the epoch of the great Hellenistic monarchies. During the succeeding centuries Halikarnassos received the buildings and monuments characteristic of a provincial Hellenistic-Roman city, but generally it seems to have played a less important role. A certain flourishing in late antiquity is indicated by important archaeological discoveries. In 1404 CE the knights of the Order of St. John started building the impressive castle of St. Peter, and these constructions, which utilized ancient material from the Mausoleum (tomb of Mausolus) and other monuments, were carried on until the castle was ceded to the Turkish sultan In 1522.

An extant eyewitness report of the demolishing of the Mausoleum by the Crusaders forms the beginning of modern investigation of ancient Halikarnassos. Travelers of the eighteenth and nineteenth century have reported on its topography and monuments, but the first comprehensive investigations were carried out by an English expedition directed by Charles T. Newton In 1856–1858. In 1921–1922 Amadeo Maiuri published studies in Halikarnassos, and an important report was given by George E. Bean and John M. Cook In 1950. New excavations on the Mausoleum site were carried out by a Danish expedition directed by Kristian Jeppesen In 1966–1977 and in the 1970s a Turkish team directed by Ümit Serdaroğlu excavated the theater. Since then, excavations have been carried out by the Museum of Bodrum (Oğuz Alpözen, Akyut Özet) occasionally in cooperation with the Danish Halikarnassos Expedition (Poul Pedersen, Birte Poulsen).

Although Late Mycenaean and Protogeometric tombs have been found in the surroundings of Halikarnassos, only very few finds from before the classical period are known from the city itself. In the fifth century the central area of the city had a cemetery with large rock-cut tombs, possibly of the local nobility. This probably indicates that the city was divided into a western part, Salmakis, and an eastern part on the mainland opposite the Zephyrion Peninsula, where the Greek colonists probably first settled down. Some ornamented column drums of exquisite workmanship could perhaps originate from an early classical temple of Apollo on the Zephyrion Peninsula.

When Mausolus made Halikarnassos capital of the Carian satrapy around 370, the city was refounded on a large scale, obliterating most traces of the earlier city. The inhabitants of six neighboring towns were transferred to Halikarnassos to populate the new city.


HALIKARNASSOS. Figure 1. Reconstruction of the mausoleum. (Courtesy Kristian Jeppesen)

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The Roman writer Vitruvius gives an important description of the topography of the new city, the configuration of which he compares to that of a theater (2.8.10–15). The city was surrounded by a city wall, almost 7 km long, which ended in the Salmakis fortress on the west side of the well-sheltered harbor and the Zephyrion fortress on the east. The latter probably still contained the old temple of Apollo and in addition the palace of Mausolus, of which a large terrace wall as well as other remains have been discovered (see Pedersen, 1994b, 1995, 1996). The city received an orthogonal street-plan with a 15-meter-wide main avenue running west–east from the Myndos city gate past the north side of the Mausoleum terrace and probably continuing all the way to the Mylasa gate on the east. Outside these two gates were the cemeteries, of which the eastern was partly investigated by the English in the nineteenth century. In 1989 a rich tomb of the late fourth century, possibly belonging to a woman of the satrapal family was excavated in the eastern necropolis (see articles by Özet, Prag and Neave, and Alpözen in Isager, 1994, pp. 88–114). On the site of the earlier cemetery in the center of the city Mausolus built his monumental tomb on a very large terrace. The Mausoleum is described by Pliny (Natural History 36.30–31), and although it was demolished by the Crusaders, it has now been reconstructed (see figure 1) in most details by Jeppesen (1992). The foundations are 32.5 m (106.6 ft.) wide and 38.25 m (125.5 ft.) long. The lower part consisted of a podium, perhaps 25.2 m (82.6 ft.) high surrounded by two high bases carrying large groups of sculpture. On top of the podium was a peristyle (colonnade) of 9 × 11 Ionic columns and then followed a pyramidal roof of twenty-four steps of marble. The height of the monument has been calculated to approximately 49.6 m (162.7 ft) including the quadriga (statue of chariot drawn by four horses), on the top. The monument was unusually rich in sculptures, which no doubt added much to its reputation as one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. The actual tomb chamber was placed off axis in the rock below the building and may already have been robbed long before the arrival of the Crusaders. The location of the Mausoleum in the center of the city, fronting the marketplace probably indicates Mausolus's wish to be regarded as new founder hero of Halikarnassos.

Prominent among the other fourth-century buildings of Halikarnassos are the temple of Ares situated on a large terrace in the northern part of the city and a fine, but smaller Ionic temple, from which several architectural members have been found a few hundred meters further to the south-east in the Türkkuyusu district.

The “Doric stoa,” which is illustrated on eighteenth-century engravings may be part of the gymnasium and is probably of early Roman date. In 1987 well-preserved parts of the ancient stadium were temporarily unearthed during modern construction works in the eastern part of the city. The theater is about 110 m (361 ft.) in diameter and has fifty-three tiers of stone seats. It is of the Hellenistic type and was originally constructed in the fourth century (Ümit Serdaroğlu, “Bautätigkeit in Anatolien unter der Persischen Herrschaft,” Palast und Hütte, 1982, p. 347ff.).

Mosaics and other remains of the Late Roman period have turned up in different parts of the city. Most important among these are the remains of a large villa of the fifth century CE, which was partly excavated by the English in the nineteenth century. Additional parts of this villa have been investigated by Bodrum Museum and the Danish Halikarnassos Expedition In 1990–1993, but the total extent of this large building and its mosaic decorations is unknown (Poulsen, forthcoming).


  • Bean, George E., and J. M. Cook. “The Halicarnassus Peninsula.” Annual of the British School at Athens 50 (1955): 85–108.
  • Bürchner, Ludwig. “Halikarnassos.” In Paulys Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft, vol. 1, cols. 2253–2264. Stuttgart, 1896.
  • Højlund, Flemming, and Kim Aaris-Sørensen. The Sacrificial Deposit. The Maussolleion at Halikarnassos, vol. 1. Copenhagen, 1981.
  • Hornblower, Simon. Mausolus. Oxford, 1982.
  • Isager, Jacob, ed. Hekatomnid Caria and the Ionian Renaissance. Halicarnassian Studies, vol. 1. Odense, 1994. Further volumes in this series are in preparation.
  • Jeppesen, Kristian. “Zur Gründung und Baugeschichte des Maussolleions von Halikarnassos.” Istanbuler Mitteilungen 27–28 (1977–1978): 169–211.
  • Jeppesen, Kristian, and Anthony Luttrell. The Written Sources and Their Archaeological Background. The Maussolleion at Halikarnassos, vol. 2. Aarhus, 1986.
  • Jeppesen, Kristian. “Tot operum opus: Ergebnisse der dänischen Forschungen zum Maussolleion von Halikarnass seit 1966.” Jahrbuch des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts 107 (1992): 59–102. Detailed survey of recent work at the site.
  • Maiuri, Amadeo. ASAtene IV–V. Rome, 1921–1922. See in particular “Una nuova scultura del Mausoleo di Alicarnasso” (pp. 271–274), “II Castello di S. Pietro al Alicarnasso.” (pp. 290–343), and “Viaggio di Esplorazione in Caria, parte III—Inscrizioni” (p. 461ff.).
  • Newton, Charles Thomas. A History of Discoveries at Halicarnassus, Cnidus, and Branchidae. 2 vols. in 3. London, 1862–1863.
  • Pedersen, Poul. The Maussolleion Terrace and Accessory Structures. The Maussolleion at Halikarnassos, vol. 3.1–2. Aarhus, 1991.
  • Pedersen, Poul. “The Fortifications of Halikarnassos.” Revue des Études Anciennes 96 (1994a): 215–235. Part of a special issue entitled “Fortifications de défense du territoire en Asie Mineure occidentale et méridionale.”
  • Pedersen, Poul. “Excavations in Halikarnassos 1992.” XV Kazi Sonuclari Toplantisi II, pp. 135–147. Ankara, 1994b.
  • Pedersen, Poul. “Excavations and Research in Halikarnassos 1994.” XVII Kazi Sonuclari Toplantisi II, pp. 327–334. Ankara, 1995.
  • Pedersen, Poul. “Excavations and Research in Halikarnassos 1994.” XVII Kazi Sonuclari Toplantisi. Ankara, 1996.
  • Poulsen, Birte. “The Late ‘Roman Villa' in Halikarnassos.” Halicarnassian Studies 3 (forthcoming).
  • Waywell, Geoffrey B. The Free-Standing Sculptures of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus in the British Museum. London, 1978.

Poul Pedersen

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