In the framework of the UNEP Mediterranean Action Plan, the Coordinator of the Programme "100 Historical Sites of the Mediterranean" carried out a mission to Turkey at the request of the World Heritage Centre.
Taking into consideration the size of the site and the importance of the discoveries made, and also that the Lycian District is now open to mass tourism, there is an urgent need for protective and restoration measures. The implementation of the following actions, which could increase the touristic and cultural values of the site, have not been undertaken due to the lack of financial support:
- insertion of castings of the sculptured frieze of the inscribed column of Xanthos, and complete restoration of the monument,
- anastylosis of the Temple of Leo at Letoon, of which 75% of the architectural structure is preserved and requires only a few additional materials.
The Xanthos site includes an archaeological area approximately covering the ancient city. This area is crossed by a well-travelled earthen road, the re-routing of which would be advisable. An overall study on the development of the site is indispensable.
With regard to the Letoon site, the protected zone is insufficient: the area surrounding the theatre is not included and, to the south, ruins which are probably Paleochristian can plainly be seen emerging from the alluviums.
Furthermore, the vast necropolis zone which extends to the borders of the Xanthe, between Xanthos and the Letoon, is unprotected.
Taking into account the intensive agricultural activity of the fertile alluvial soil and the recent appearance in the countryside of numerous greenhouses for tomato-growing, the proposed boundary, although compatible with the present situation, appears insufficient in the short-term.
A management plan including environmental control and a study of the conservation of monuments threatened by the seasonal rising of the phreatic water of the Letoon, is highly desirable.
A road crosses the site. Made of gravel in the past, it was asphalted in 1989. Not only is it used by an ever-increasing flow of tourist traffic, but it also services several big villages of the Xanthe Valley (Esen Cay) involving a heavy flow of tractors, trucks and minibuses. This road successively skirts the monumental door of the Old City, the theatre, and a large tomb set on a pedestal. These ancient monuments are therefore constantly threatened by the vehicles using this road. It would be appropriate that this road be re-routed so as to avoid the ancient zone.
At present a dirt road exists which skirts round the acropolis of Xanthos and afterwards rejoins the asphalt road. Its rehabilitation would allow the preservation of the access to the mountain villages whilst protecting the site. The necessary expropriations would not be excessive. It would appear desirable that this solution be studied and implemented.
The theatre excavations encroach on the road referred to above. It is indispensable to develop the surrounding area for both practical and aesthetic reasons, in order to:
- improve the appearance of the theatre and its approaches which are highly frequented by tourists,
- better understand the stages and characteristics of its construction.
Reinforcement and restoration
The General Directorate of Monuments and Museums/Ministry of Culture, wishes that the Paleochristian mosaics of the Agora Church be restored, the reinforcement of the mosaics of the Great Paleochristian Cathedral be continued, that the nave be covered, and that the container of the so-called "Dancers" Sarcophagus, damaged by acts of vandalism, be replaced.
This work was undertaken during the 1991 Campaign.
Protection against water
The first urgency was to halt the collapse of alluviums alongside the present access road to the sanctuary by the construction of a small support wall, and to dig a new irrigation canal which would divert the waters of the archaeological site onto the strip of land, expropriated by the French Mission, running alongside the road.
The consolidation of the mosaics of the Temple of Apollo will be terminated by their repositioning and final cleaning.
The through traffic of tractors, trailers, trucks and cars is permitted at the southern point of the site, alongside the Paleochristian church and the Roman nymphaeum. However, even when excavations are not in process, the vehicles cross the sanctuary using the terrace of the temples. This access, which is very damaging to the aspect (dust) and the preservation of the monuments, should be forbidden in the future.
The theatre is used each year by the community of Kumlu Ova to celebrate the "tomato festival". There is a danger of subsidence of certain unstable architectural blocks. Reinforcement works should be undertaken at the north-east gate.
The Ministry of Culture informed the Permanent Delegation of Turkey to UNESCO that the studies regarding the Conservation Plan for the site of Patara were on the point of being completed in July 1992. This Plan should be transmitted to the Secretariat as soon as it is available.
At Xanthos the mosaics of the Paleochristian Church had been partially removed, consolidated and replaced. The "Dancers" Sarcophagus, which was damaged in 1969, has been completely restored and retains its antique aspect.
At Letoon, the Hellenistic mosaic of the Temple of Apollo was removed, consolidated and reinstalled in its original location; one of the irrigation canals which runs along the road servicing the site had been cemented to avoid water seepage; a wooden support of 5 x 15 m was erected at the boundary of the excavations, alongside the road, to avoid rockfall and winter landslides, and to limit flood damage; various measures were undertaken to increase security regarding excavation deposits, such as the replacement of the wooden doors by iron ones, and the sealing of openings by a grill.
The administration of the village of Kinik (Xanthos) approved the principle of the reuse of the ruins of the old primary school of the village, situated below the Xanthos Acropolis, to set up a second excavation deposit area. A final plan must be elaborated in 1994 and submitted to the General Directorate of Monuments and Museums which make the final decision.
Furthermore, the ever-increasing traffic of tractors and trucks on the road which crosses the site of Xanthos, now asphalted, to reach the villages of Cavdir and Alamut, has caused cracks in the blocks of the Monumental Arch called the "Vespasien Gate" because of the vibrations. Over many years it has been proposed that the road should be reserved for tourist traffic only and that the neighbouring villages be serviced by a road which skirts the site and which already exists in the form of a footpath. But to da this proposal has not been followed up.
Finally, it must be noted that in May 1994, the Municipality of Kinik set up at the summit of the Byzantine-Roman Xanthos Acropolis a two-mast television relay, three parabolic antennae and a cement guard house. Although this relay was constructed on the rock and therefore caused no damage to the antiquities, it is evident that the aesthetic impact on the landscape is not in the best taste.