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PESSINUS (BALLIHİSAR)

 Once important Phrygian settlement

300 DSC08894If you're visiting Sivrihisar in Western Anatolia you might want to drop in briefly on the ruins of Pesssinus scattered about the village of Ballıhisar 14km away. The pretty stream running through the village appears to have started life as an ancient canal.

This was once a Phrygian settlement with an important temple to Agdistis, a hermaphroditic fertility god whose followers sometimes castrated themselves, rites that were later incorporated into those of the goddess Cybele.

Over time Agdistis too became a goddess and in her temple was kept a piece of black meteorite called the baitylos. In 205 BC the then Attalid ruler gave this to Rome, thereby ingratiating themselves with their would-be conquerors. Ultimately, though, Pessinus fell, like everywhere else to the Romans in 25 BC. It appears to have been virtually abandoned by the fourth century.

In the early 19th century extensive remains of a Roman city still seem to have survived, but today there's not a great deal to show for the site, although three great necropoli stretch out in all directions.200 DSC08890

The most obvious surviving monument is the odeon cut into the hillside with, perched above it, the remains of a Temple dating back to the reign of Tiberius (AD 14-37) which appears to have been devoted to the imperial cult. Of the agora at the foot of the odeon little remains today. And as yet the once important Temple of Cybele has not been identified.

A small on-site museum houses finds from Belgian excavations here.

Transport info

Without your own wheels you're best off hiring a taxi in Sivirhisar, having agreed the cost of the return fare plus waiting time before setting off.

 

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