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We know that Lycia existed in the second millennium as the Lycian contribution to the Trojan wars is recorded (1200 B.C.). Generally speaking, however, records of Lycian cities go back as far as the 5th centl1ry B.C., whereas we cannot state with certainty when they were founded, saying only that Lycia existed much earlier than that, during the 2nd millennium, which seems to support this general evidence. Tlos was known to exist in the 2nd millennium, when it was called ‘Talava,’ whereas an axe was found by coincidence at the Tlos site that dates back to this period. Similarly, finds of this sort in other settlements in Lycia will allow us to preclude a date for the first settlements in each city. During the 2nd century B.C., we know that Tlos was a member of the Lycian League.
Two wealthy philanthropists were responsible for much of the city’s building activity in the 2nd century A.D. One of these was Opramoas of Rhodiapolis, while the other was Licinnius Langurd of Oenoanda. The latter even aided Tlos with a sum of 50,000 denars.Tlos was still inhabited during the Byzantine period. and is one of the few ancient towns which was able to maintain considerable status in the area until the 19th century.
The walls around the acropolis and the large ruined buildings date from the Ottoman period. The highest parts of the acropolis were inhabited by Kanly Ali Aga, and used by him as a winter quarters during the 19th century.
The wall to the east of the acropolis belongs to the Lycian period. To the east and north of the acropolis are the rock tombs, which form an impressive view from some distance. The necropolis of Tlos is contained within the Roman walls, whereas Lycian sarcophagi bearing inscriptions can be found here.
The Roman walls encircle the acropolis where it is left exposed without a natural rock wall. The eastern part of the outer stone walls is in sufficiently good shape to indicate their original monumental proportions. A gate pierces the walls at the south-eastern corner.
Almost all the main buildings of the city are situated outside the walls, including the stadium. This building, which was supported by the walls, contained 14 rows of seats. The building standing opposite the stadium, which has an entrance portal 4 meters’ high, divided into three sections, and crowned with an arch, must have been a basilica. We notice that the last part of the wail to the east of this building had been used as an aqueduct.
At the southernmost part of the ruins are found the remains of the paleastra and the gymnasium, near the baths. In many Roman sites; these three buildings are found side by side. Next to the baths in this group is another bath which sports a circular terrace. This is a particularly magnificent building.
East of the gymnasium is a large Byzantine church. The heaps of rubble between the church and the baths most probably indicate the existence of a temple at that spot. The large terrace to the east was the site of the agora of Tlos.
A path leading eastwards from the village coffee-house takes us to the theater. The skene of this theater was highly ornamented, and the theater as a whole has survived well. It was built by Opramoas for the sum of 60,000 denars. These days, a part of the inscription of the theater under the northern analemme wall together with a fragment of the Izrara Monument, dating from the Lycian period can be seen today.
The actual monument has been removed to the Fethiye Museum. On it are portrayed highly dramatic battle scenes in relief including the mounted Izrara engaged in battle with a mounted soldier, the mounted soldier fighting a Hoplite, the battle of the Hoplites and the siege of the fortress. The fortress portrayed in the reliefs may possibly have been the Tlos Castle.
A large Roman tower, which has survived intact to the present, can be seen to the north of the square where the village coffee -house stands.
One can also find several sarcophagi scattered among the fields north of the theater which date from various periods.