Claros is a prophecy center of Colophon, one of the twelve Ionic cities.
Claros is built between two cities; it is 13 kilometers south of Colophon and
two kilometers north of Notion. The Temple of Apollo here was a very important
center of prophecy as in Delphi and Didim. The oldest information about this
sacred site goes back to the sixth and seventh centuries B.C. through the
Homeric Hymns. A sacred cave near the Claros Temple of Apollo, which was an
important place both in the Hellenistic and Roman eras, points to the existence
of a Cybele cult in earlier periods here.
Claros’ Apollo sacred side was first discovered by S. Schuchardt. Later, in
1907, Theodore Macridy found a column of a propylon, a monumental entrance
building. In 1913, Macridy worked with Charles Picard and together they found
the propulon in 1913. At the same time, they found a large exedra.
The excavations were suspended during World War I and were restarted by Louis
Robert in 1950 and lasted until 1961. After 27 years, in 1988, Professor
Juliette de La Geniere started a series of supervising excavations. In
1988-1989, during systematic cleaning work, archaeologists found structures that
had remained under the alluvium.
The propylon located at the beginning of this sacred site, which acted as an
entrance to passengers who came by sea, was built in the second half of the
second century B.C. The building was built in Doric style and has a square plan
and it rises on three crepises (krepis). There are two columns on its northern
side. Orthostats, walls, antes and columns bear the names of children who sang
hymns to Apollo and the names of delegates who came to ask for advise from the
oracle of Apollo.
There are honor monuments related to the ancient cities, governors of Asian
states, and leading personalities of the Roman era on the two sides of the
sacred road that passes between the propylon and the temple and ends on the
eastern side of the temple. On them, there are marks of bronze sculptures of
people who owned these monuments.
The Temple of Apollo measuring 26 meters by 46 meters was built in Doric
style. The temple in the peripteros plan (6 by 11 meter columns) rises on a
fifth crepis. In the cella of the temple (the room of the cult sculpture), there
are also sculptures of Apollo, Artemis and Leto. This shows that here, there was
also a cult of Apollo’s sister Artemis and their mother Leto. From the fragments
that have been found, it seems clear that the 7-8 meter high Apollo sculpture
was standing while Artemis and Leto were also standing. The moulages of these
monumental sculptures were reorganized on the western side of the temple. The
Emperor Hadrian (second century A.D.) completed the peristyle of the temple
whose constructed started in the third century B.C.
is a small temple that belonged to Apollo under this temple that was built in
the Archaic period along with an altar. Under the cella part of the temple there
was a sacred place whose stone arcs are seen today and in this place, prophecy
was not done by a woman named Pythia as at Delphi, but rather by a male oracle.
The inscriptions found in Claros provide no information about prophecies, but a
number of inscriptions have been found in Bergama, Sivas, Amasya, Kayseri and
Konya that record the counsel of Claros’ Apollo. It is also known that a temple
was made for Claros Apollo in Sagalassos, one of the cities of Psidia.
The oldest piece of information about the function of the Temple of Apollo in
Claros dates back to the time of Alexander the Great. According to the Greek
historian Pausanias, in his dream Alexander was told that he would set up a
large new city at the base of Mt. Pagos (Kadifekale). After this dream the, king
consulted the Apollo oracle at Claros and asked him to interpret the dream for
him. He set up the new Smyrna after the oracle gave him the go-ahead to proceed.
In the prona (entrance part) of the temple, there are two stairs on the north
and south, and they unite in a corridor made out of blue marble. This corridor
stretching along the east-west line is 0.70 meters wide and 2.10 meters high.
The wall altar separates into two and leads to underground halls. The adyton
(sacred room) where the prophesising was done is formed by two underground halls
with arches. It is under the cella which has the cult sculpture. In the eastern
hall with arches, there are bands of stone seats. There is also an omphalos made
out of blue marble, which was the sacred stone of Apollo. A similar omphalos was
found in Delphi.
The oracle and the secretary were sitting in this hall which was like a
waiting room. The hall in the west had no other entrance than the door opening
to the hall in the east. The oracle could enter here only in dark and in it
there was a rectangular well which kept the holy water. After drinking from this
water, the oracle would issue his prophecies by singing in the form of a song.
Some 27 meters east of the Temple of Apollo, there is an altar measuring nine by
18.45 meters. Between the temple and the altar, there are four rows of blocks
that were used to tie about 100 animals. The stone blocks in rectangular shape
with an iron ring on top are unique and they provide valuable information about
the procedure of sacrificial ceremonies. There is a stelle on the north side of
this place where the ceremonies were conducted. The decretum that was found in
Claros tells us that these holidays dedicated to Apollo were held every five
years. On the north of the Temple of Apollo, there was another smaller temple in
Ionic style along with an altar built parallel to the temple of Apollo. At this
altar, archaeologists found a sculpture of Artemis that belonged to archaic
period, which shows that this smaller temple was built for Artemis.