A Cybele Statue in the Fortress of Kurul (Ordu)

Senyurt Y., DURUGÖNÜL S.

OLBA, vol.26, pp.305-344, 2018 (AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 26
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Journal Name: OLBA
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Scopus, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.305-344
  • Gazi University Affiliated: Yes


A statue of Cybele, found during the excavations in 2016 in the fortress of Kurul, within the borders of Ordu (Kotyora) in the region of eastern Black Sea, has once more proven that the fortress had been used not only for defence purposes but also for cultic reasons. The seated statue of Cybele has been found placed in a rectangular formed niche (naiskos) which takes place in an enclosed space with differing wall technics and phases. The Cybele of Ordu reflects all features attributed to her ever since: Her being placed in the entrance of a fortress, being seated in a niche (naiskos) and close to water sources, the absence of lions as in early versions or the absence of tympanon or phiale as in later depictions. That the Ordu statue is a Cybele, is clear when compared with the 'hellenized' Cybele statues; their iconographies are similar. The Ordu Cybele resembles the Classical Period Cybele of Athens, Pireus Moschaton and of Lebadeia as well as the Hellenistic Period Cybele of Pergamon or Palatine. The dating of the statue on stylistic bases leads us in sense of comparison material to the Pergamenean 'school' or to other important centres of Hellenistic statuary such as Kos or Aigai. The Ordu Cybele still carries 'Barock' tendencies not really being 'Classistic' yet and bearing a clear plain Hellenistic understanding which leads us to the mid or just to the beginning of the second half of the 2nd century BC. A support for this dating is offered by the form characteristics and decoration of one of the preserved capitals of two pilasters, once situated at both sides of the niche. Comparable examples herefore are dated to the 2nd century BC in Samos and Pergamon. Coins once placed in the niche and historical events are also taken into consideration for the dating and understanding of the politics of Mithradates VI. As a matter of fact coins of this king were placed underneath the statue of Cybele; finds dating earlier then the 2nd century BC and later then the period of Mithradates VI have not been found here or elsewhere on the excavation site. This makes it once again clear that the statue was produced anyway before the death of the king. One possibility is that the statue was produced for the cult place of this site by sculptors who were familiar with the art trends of the 2nd century BC, before being converted to a fortress by Mithradates VI. So this means that the statue was moved from the cult place to the entrance of the fortress by Mithradates VI. The second possibility is that it was brought by him, after announcing himself as a king in Pergamon, from Pergamon or a centre under the influence of Pergamon, all the way to his fortress in Ordu. In this way he must have made his propaganda and at the same time he must have seeked for mercy from the goddess Cybele, as the political events started turning out to be negative for him. As a result, the stylistic characteristics of Cybele do not overlap with the dates 90-64 BC as Mithradates VI must have reorganized the cult place as a fortress with its entrance and niche for the statue. This shows us that the statue was not planed for this place but was produced much earlier, just as the capital of the pilaster. Both have been dated to the 2nd century BC.