Documenting the rock-paintings on Mount Latmos
Herakleia Latmos was one of the beautiful coastal cities of Karia, resting against the Latmos (Beşparmak) mountains and facing the Aegean.
When carrying out surface surveys in the city and its vicinity at the beginning of the 1990s, German archaeologist Dr. Anneliese Peschlow-Bindokat headed toward the rock paintings in the caves of Göktepe, which beekeeper Yaşar Beşparmak claimed to have seen.
For more than a decade, Peschlow scanned each cave and each stone on a field of 200 square kilometers in the region. She found various cave paintings every summer.
Among 160 groups of rock paintings, which had various depictions, she determined 500 paintings made by humans. She photographed each of them, transferring all the photos to drawings.
The concepts of “human” and “family” have especially drawn our attention in Peschlow’s magnificent findings. Compared to stickman-like, long-haired men, which were portrayed from the front, all women were portrayed from the side.
The women were depicted with full hips like the “Neolithic” goddesses in Konya’s Çatalhöyük and Burdur’s Hacılar. Various ornaments on their sides had similar features to the ornaments from the Çatalhöyük-Hacılar era.
The common points from the ornaments in these regions and the ones in Latmos provide important evidence of the fact that this Aegean coastal city, Latmos, which dates back thousands of years ago, had ties with Central Anatolia.
The first ornament (1a) is one of two ornaments next to one depicting a “couple making love” that we will see later. We called this first ornament “Latmos Mountain” based on the natural environment of the couple.
According to Peschlow, the painting that we placed between these two drawings must have been a temple, the pantheon of Latmos (1b), due to the fact that their head and hair were different from the other human drawings, the natural features of the cave and an altar pit at its entrance. Those in the paintings must have been the gods of air and water.
The third ornament (1c), the first known ancestor of the “Meander” motif, depicts the Greater Maeandros, in our opinion.
Peschlow defines the first painting as the “oldest known wedding painting in history” (3a). The painting especially highlights a couple getting married in the middle. It depicts men between three-woman groups.
We don’t know if it is necessary to comment on the second painting in the same row (3b). Is it possible to think that this painting, which was found one year before the wedding painting and could absolutely be described by folklore researchers as the “oldest known horon dance painting,” depicts something other than “dancing during a ritual?”
Going a step further, can we assume that the couple is blessed by the gods of air and water as well as the natural environment where they are making love?
Then there is an abstract painting. According to Peschlow, a woman’s breasts and sexual organ are shown here (4b). In this abstract painting, two rounds on the top depict the woman’s breasts, while the ellipse shape depicts her sexual organ.
Well, what are the meanings of two rounds below and the line inside the ellipse? Looking at the “phallus” and “testicles” of a man, can’t we say that it depicts a fertilization process? Might it not be the oldest known “hieros gamos” (divine marriage)?
In the first painting in the fifth row (5a), is it possible to claim that it depicts anything but a family of a mother, father and daughter? We don’t think so. Aren’t the concepts of “family” and “head of family” depicted very well with the man embracing his wife and daughter with open arms?
In the last painting in the same row (5b), isn’t it clear that the mother is playing with her daughter, throwing her up high in the air?
Since there are wave-like ornaments next to the mother-daughter painting, can we say that this story is set on the coast of a sea or lake?
The ceramics found in the region have common features with those in Central Anatolia and the Aegean Islands, with a rare bear statuette found on the Aegean’s east coast, arrow heads made of obsidian and tinderbox, falchions, flat axes, disk crushers and idols among the important findings to date in the region.
Author: Özgen Acar | Source: Hurriyet Daily News [February 19, 2017]