Reading a Grave’s Context from Ancient Sources and Material Culture: Grave of a Healer, a Member of the (Legendary) Ophiogen Dynasty (?) from ParionHasan Kasapoğlu
Parion is one of the important port cities of the ancient Troas region. This ancient city islocated within the borders of the modern-day village of Kemer in Biga District in Çanakkale province. This study’s subject is grave M229 and its Context, which were found in 2019 in the southern necropolis of Tavşandere at the entrance of the village of Kemer (i.e., the ancient city of Parion). The gifts for the dead of M229 comprise 18 unguentaria, a jug, a mug, a bowl, a oil lamp, a glass rings, 5 agate stone beads, a bronze spoon, a bronze mirror, metal parts of a wooden crate, a medicine-ointment mixing stone, a pyxis made of bone, and a medicine box. The grave’s Context were evaluated historically, typologically, and iconographically. As a result of these evaluations, the grave appears to date from the end of the first century AD to the beginning of the second century AD. The bone medicine box found in the grave is the only example that was uncovered in Anatolia. The Isis-Fortuna figure on the medicine box is a health goddess equated with Hygeia. The agate beads found in the wooden crate inside the grave provide suggestions regarding the social status and occupation of the grave dweller. The bronze spoon inside the wooden coffin and the pyxis, medicine-ointment mixing stone tray, and medicine box on the northern exterior of the coffin may also be tools healers used in simple treatments. Based on information obtained from ancient sources and the treatment and health-oriented objects in the grave, it is considered that the individual in the the grave may be a healer from the Ophiogen family.
Antik Kaynaklar’dan Materyal Kültüre Bir Mezar Kontekstinin Okunması – Parion’dan (Efsanevi) Ophiogen Sülalesi (?) Mensubu Bir Şifacı MezarıHasan Kasapoğlu
Parion Antik Troas Bölgesi’nin önemli liman kentlerinden biridir. Antik kent bugünkü Çanakkale İli, Biga İlçesi, Kemer Köyü sınırları içerisinde yer almaktadır. Çalışmanın konusunu Kemer Köyü’nün girişinde yer alan Parion Antik Kenti GüneyTavşandere Nekropolisi’nde, 2019 yılında bulunmuş M229 nolu mezar ve konteksti oluşturmaktadır. M229’un ölü hediyeleri 18 unguentarium, 1 testi, 1 maşrapa, 1 kâse, 1 kandil, 2 cam yüzük, 5 agat-akik taşı, 1 bronz kaşık, 1 bronz ayna, 1 ahşap sandığa ait metal aksam, 1 ilaç-merhem karıştırma tablası, 1 kemik pyksis, 1 ilaç kutusudur. Çalışmada, buluntular tarihsel, tipolojik ve ikonografik olarak değerlendirilmiştir. Değerlendirmeler sonucunda mezarın MS 1. yüzyıl sonu - MS 2 yüzyıl başına ait olduğu anlaşılmaktadır. Mezarda bulunan kemik ilaç kutusu Anadolu’da bugüne kadar ele geçmiş tek örnektir. İlaç kutusu üzerindeki Isis-Fortuna figürü Hygeia ile eşdeğerde tutulmuş bir sağlık tanrıçası olarak verilmiştir. Mezar içerisindeki ahşap sandık içerisinden ele geçen agat-akik taşlar – taş boncuklar da mezar sahibinin sosyal statüsü ve işi anlamında öneriler yapmayı mümkün kılmaktadır. Ahşap tabutun içindeki bronz kaşık ve tabutun kuzey dış kısmındaki pyksis, ilaç-merhem karıştırma taşı-tablası ve ilaç kutusu da basit nitelikli tedavide kullanılmış şifacı aletleri olmalıdır. Mezar kontekstindeki tedavi-sağlık odaklı diğer objeler ve antik kaynaklardan elde edilen bilgilere dayanarak, mezar sahibi bireyin Ophiogen ailesi mensubu bir şifacı olabileceği düşünülmektedir.
With Uzundere, Parion covers the entire land mass between Bodrum Cape and Kartal Yuvası and lies within the boundaries of today’s Kemer Village, Biga district, Çanakkale province. The southern Tavşandere necropolis, one of the necropolises of the ancient city, is in a small valley between the southern gate and the hills to the east of the city, immediately after the village cemetery on the entrance route to Kemer Village. In the necropolis, where excavations have been conducted since 2005, more than 300 graves and 6 crematoriums have been unearthed. According to the data obtained, it was used continuously from around 630 BC until the end of the second century AD. Additionally, it has been determined that the most intensive use phase of the necropolis was during the Roman period. The grave numbered M229, which is the subject of the study, was unearthed in the 2019 studies of the necropolis in the northern region of the 1535–2300 grid, according to the urban grid system.
The grave was placed with the head in the southeastern direction and the feet in the northwestern direction. The head and feet are covered with vertically placed, trapezoidalshaped, Lakonian-type roof tiles. In the grave, understood to be of the tile-grave type within the general grave typology determined in Parion, the individual was placed in the burial pit in a wooden coffin. It was covered with three concave, trapezoidal, Lakonian-type roof tiles in a horizontal position after the gifts for the dead were left inside the coffin; therefore, this hybrid type of grave is a tile tomb with a wooden coffin. Although the skeleton is quite deteriorated, from dental evidence, it is understood that the individual had been an adult between the ages of 25 and 35. Inhumation burial custom and dorsal burial style were applied to the grave. Inside the wooden coffin, grave goods—including the gifts for the dead and the personal belongings of the grave indweller—were placed on the head and feet of the individual. These gifts of the dead, presented to the grave’s occupant by their family, are 18 unguentaria, a jug, and a mug. A locked wooden crate, agate stone beads, a bronze mirror, a bronze spoon, and two glass rings belonged to the deceased. On the outside of the coffin, an oil lamp and a bowl were other gifts for the dead. There was also a special group of gifts comprising a bone pyxis, a bone medicine box, and a medicine-ointment mixing stone that were found externally to the north of the grave. The materials in this group could also be the individual’s personal belongings. Many ceramic containers were placed vertically and carefully to prevent contained liquids from spilling. These containers may have been left as gifts for the dead by the family after they were filled with liquid (could be water or wine). There is also the possibility that these containers were left in the tomb after libations were consumed during the burial ritual; however, the placement of the containers reduces this possibility. We believe that the large number of vessels, considered gifts to the dead, should be considered in parallel with the social status and dignity of the deceased individual.
In the second category, the grave goods used by the deceased in daily life were left in the grave by family members after death. The rings, locked wooden crate, agate beads, bronze spoon, bronze mirror, medicine-ointment mixing stone tray, bone pyxis, and bone medicine box are the finds in this second category. These grave items allow us to obtain important data regarding the individual within the scope of material culture. Primarily, the glass rings and the mirror are gender-oriented special jewelry and ornaments. The bronze spoon inside the coffin and other materials outside the coffin suggest that a fiction can be imagined: the powdered (plant) material from the bone medicine box is diluted with some liquid in the pyxis, and then it is mixed in the stone mixing table until it reaches the proper consistency and is applied to a wound. However, it is important to consider that there were no surgical materials in the grave; therefore, it could be concluded that the grave inhabitant could have been a person who could self-apply a simple drug/ointment treatment. There is also information that the agate stones found in a locked wooden crate were used to treat venomous snake bites in ancient times. It is known that the Isis-Fortuna figure on the lid of the medicine box (Kat. 35) is a health goddess equated with Hygeia. Furthermore, Isis’s close relationship with snakes can be viewed iconographically.
This latest information also reveals that the applied treatment by the grave’s occupant may have a cultic-magical link. It is possible to supplement information provided by ancient sources to the results obtained from material and iconographic assessment, so much so that one of the ancient authors Strabo (Strabo XIII, Chapter I, 14) mentions that the men of the Ophiogen family living in Parion treated snake bites. Although Strabo defined those who used this treatment as Ophiogen men, when all data are evaluated, it is thought that a woman in the M229 tomb may have been a healer from the Ophiogen family who lived in the late first century to early second century AD.