Skip to main content

In the summer of 2014 as a part of an expedition around Lake Burdur in southwest Turkey to discover the route of the Via Sebaste (a major Roman road built by Augustus in 6 BCE that passed through this area), the author discovered at Yarıköy an unpublished inscription that demarcates the boundary between the imperial estate containing the village of Tymbrianassos and the territory Sagalassos. Yarıköy itself is a small village that sits a few kilometers south of the southwestern tip of Lake Burdur. It was moved here after an earthquake in 1971 destroyed the older eponymous village, whose ghostly remains can still be seen about 1 km away.

To date, at least seven examples of these boundary markers have been found in the area: three found at the nearby village of Düver/Düğer (two first published by Ramsay, 1886, 128-129, and a third by Bean,1959, 85, 30Y), two were announced by L. Robert as being found in pre-1971 Yarıköy, but never published (Robert 1960, 596 = BE 1961.733), a sixth from the territory of nearby Hacılar that is now in the Burdur Museum (Horsley and Kearsley 1998), and a seventh discovered by both French and Waelkens possibly in situ at a point about halfway between Düğer and Yarıköy (see Waelkens 2000, 172). It is likely, therefore, that this newly discovered stone is one of the two examples seen by Robert at old Yarıköy, but moved to new Yarıköy after 1971 when the older village was destroyed.

As the multiple copies of this text indicate, on the authority of a letter authored by the divine Claudius (ἐ̣ξ̣ ἐπιστολῆς̣ θεοῦ Σεβαστοῦ Γερ̣μανικοῦ Κ̣αίσαρος), the boundary between the village of Tymbrianassos and Sagalassos was set by Quintus Petronius Umber, legatus pro praetore, and Lucius Pupius Praesens, procurator, both men whom we know from other sources, including epigraphical, originally held these posts under Claudius and continued in them under Nero. It thus appears that at the end of Claudius’ reign, he wrote a letter to Quintus Petronius and Lucius Pupius directing them how to resolve the disputed boundary, but when he died on 13 October 54 CE, the stipulations of his letter had not yet been carried out, but on the authority of the letter they were, probably early in Nero’s reign.

This talk will discuss the use of letters to communicate imperial decrees to the provinces by the local Roman authorities, and more specifically the contents of this unpublished copy of the boundary-stone and its relationship to the other copies. It will further be argued, as it has been by Ramsay and Waelkens contra Bean, that these boundary stones were set up along the Via Sebaste, not the Düğer Çayı (a stream) as Bean supposed. Finally, based on an inscription published by Mitchell (1976), a new path of the Via Sebaste will be proposed that runs along the southeast side of Lake Burdur through the modern city of Burdur, rather than skirting past the territory of Sagalassos by running on the northwest side of the lake as is usually supposed (see, for instance, map in French 2014, 19).