Lycian Tombs Embody Spirit of Ancient Society

January 23, 2012
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Turkey's Turquoise Coast is a beautiful sight to see, and the area's historical significance makes this a must see on your Greece and Turkey cruise itinerary. The ancient Lycian civilization that once populated this region of Turkey is one of the most fascinating of its time, and many monuments, tombs and other structures carved into limestone hills and cliffs are still standing.

Travel enthusiasts and history buffs alike will enjoy International Expeditions' Turkey and Greece cruise. You travel along the Turquoise Coast and take in the sight of the sparkling blue sea before the cruise heads up the Dalyan River. Along the coast are tall cliffs and peppered into the rocky sides are some of the most elaborate ancient carved tombs from Lycian times — and they are sure to boggle the mind. These are the most intricately-designed and largest tombs built by the ancient civilization.

The Turquoise Coast region of Turkey was once home to the Lycian people, who were sandwiched between the ancient Greeks and Eastern people. This exposure to vastly different civilizations led the Lycians to develop a unique culture that can be seen clearly in ancient art and architecture.

Their civilization was the last in the region to be overtaken by the Roman Empire, and many of their monuments are still standing throughout the area, including tombs that showcase the Lycians' devotion to ancestral worship. Archeologists speculate that Lycians carved their tombs into rocks because they represented the strength of the gods, a belief that likely trickled down from the ancient civilzations that predated the Lycians. The tombs were also engraved with symbols and images such as lions, which were used as royal symbols and often incorporated into their tomb designs.

The tombs also stand out against other civilizations' funeral traditions because of where they were built. The Lycians believed that the souls of the deceased traveled to the afterlife with the help of a winged creature. Historians speculate this is why their tombs were built into cliffs and along the coast, but they were also located very near inhabited areas. Ancient Greeks separated the dead from the living, but the Lycians built their tombs right in the cities, in a similar fashion to ancient Eastern practice.

The ancient tombs that line the harbors of the Turquoise Coast and the cliffs along Turkey's Dalyan River make it easy to see how ancient Greek and Asian civilizations influenced the Lycians' unique culture. The sight of such well-preserved examples of the ancient society is more than enough to take your breath away, or at least have you reaching for your camera as you cruise down the Dalyan River.

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