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Mausoleum and Sacred area of Hecatomnus

Date of Submission: 13/04/2012
Criteria: (i)(iii)(iv)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Permanent Delegation of Turkey to UNESCO
State, Province or Region:
District of Milas, Province of Muğla
Coordinates: N37 18 53.88 E27 46 57.97
Ref.: 5729

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The Mausoleum of Hecatomnus is located on the East side of Hisarbaşı Hill in the Milas District of Muğla.

In 1675/76 German scholar Jacob Spon visited Milas - which was known as “Mylasa” at the time and discovered the podium of the mausoleum and the Menandros Column. He included the engraving(s) of this column in the travelogue he published with his British colleague George Wheler following this initial visit to the site. The mausoleum has been studied by different scholars (1775: Richard Chandler; 1932:  Alfred Laumonir; 1954: Prof. Dr. Aşkıdil Akarca; 1987: Assist. Prof. Walter Voigtlander, 1994-1995 Prof. Dr. Frank Rumscheid). Although the monument had been defined in various earlier studies as a “temple”, recent research has proven that it is a “mausoleum”, similar to the Mausoleum atHalicarnassus, Bodrum (Tomb of Mausoleums). In fact, scholars argue that the Mausoleum of Hecatomnus was a precedent in terms of its architectural form to similar monuments constructed in the later periods.

With regard to its architectural features, it is possible to date the mausoleum to the early 4th century B.C. Considering the burial customs of the period when Hecatomnus was a satrap - burial of the founder and/or members of the dynasty within the city centre - and taking into account that Mylasa was still the capital, the mausoleum, could most certainly belong to Hecotomnus and his family. In addition, the bas-reliefs, on the sarcophagus, and the iconography of the wall paintings, support the argument that this mausoleum belonged to Hecatomnus.

The Mausoleum and the Sacred Area of Hecatomnus encompasses: Temenos Wall, Menandros Column, the podium, and the mausoleum, bearing room, burial room, sarcophagus and dromos – entrance passage leading to the tomb.

Temenos Wall (130 m x 90 m)

Hisarbaşı Hill dominates the skyline of the city. There is a terrace surrounded by the temenos walls with a height of10 m. The inner walls, supporting the terrace, were built of travertine blocks, and the exterior walls are covered with double row of bossage marble blocks. The remains of the temenos walls are dated to the reign of Augustus.

Menandros Column

A monumental column, which is dedicated to Menandros and decorated with Corinthian style stands at the eastern edge of the podium. There was probably a Menandros statue on top of the column. According to 17th century travelers’ engravings, the column had also an inscription. It read “The public erected statue of Menandros, son of Uliades and benevolent and the descendant of Euthydemos”. The Menandros column can be dated to the reign of Augustus by virtue of its style and inscription.

Podium (29 m x 36 m x 3 m)

The mausoleum stands upon a podium or basement, raised five steps above the level of the ground. The exterior walls of the podium were made of rectangular blocks of Sodra marble, which is uncommon to the region. In the interior wall, granite material was used. The podium is 3 m above the lesbian cymatium decorated base profile. This podium, which steps off from profile with five steps krepis, ends to base of the sarcophagus.


The exceptional mausoleum consists of three main parts including: “Load-bearing Room" “Burial/tomb Room” and “Dromos and the sarcophagus.” The Load-bearing Room, a marvellous architectural design of its period, is located exactly above the burial chamber. This room is built in a pyramidal structure with the sliding of travertine blocks at each row. The function of this room is to lessen the load of the burial room.

The Burial Room, containing the sarcophagus, is 4,65 m long, 3,70 m wide and 3,10 m high. Situated in east - west direction, it places central axis of east side of the upper podium. This room with a magnificent door, designed on the East side of the chamber, opens to the dromos. The wall blocks with no joints display the mastery of the masonry at that time. Each stone edge is carefully shaved and anasthyrosis was formed. The burial room has three shelves, used for the gifts of the dead, and two of them are at the Southeast and one of them is at the Northeast of the room.

Dromos, built with the same materials and techniques as the burial room, is 8.06 m long, 2.02 m in base width and3 mhigh, which was kept with the same height as the burial chamber. The door providing entrance from the outside is about 5 tons of monolith marble block (1,88 m x 1,18 m). It has a lock system which could be understood from the door block and holes under the lintel block.

Sarcophagus (2.78 x 2.12 x 1.55 m)

In the burial room, a marble sarcophagus is placed horizontally in the North-South direction.  "Ion cymation" is seen on the roof cornice of the sarcophagus and its lid has a gable roof form. The sarcophagus has a farewell scene on the front side and right side, a hunting scene on the back side and a scene of kings and queens sitting on their seats and standing figures on the left side. These figures of dynasty, influenced by the Persian and Greek, take part in classical artistic artworks. There are also paintings depicting the king and queen with servants or relatives on the narrow walls. There is a star-shaped vault decorated with gilded rosette motifs.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

The Mausoleum and the sacred area of Hecatomnus is an outstanding example of the funerary architecture with regard to its design and artistic value during the ancient period. It had considerable influence on the design of the Mausoleum atHalicarnassus, in Bodrum. In addition, "Hecatomnus Frieze Sarcophagus" with its size and quality is unique inAnatolia, during the Classical and Hellenistic periods.

Criterion (i): The Mausoleum of Hecatomnus and the Sacred Area associated with it apart from its architectural qualities – is of paramount importance for its sculpture and wall painting works. This use of the combination of various works of art is what makes the property exceptional from other monuments in the Classical Period.

Criterion (iii): It is a unique representative of a mausoleum structure and the cult of the dead in Anatolia in the Antiquity.

Criterion (iv): The Mausoleum of Hecatomnus was a precedent in terms of its architectural form, design and construction techniques to the similar monuments constructed in the later periods. It put forward important contributions on how to complete the re-construction/representation of the burial room of the Mausoleum atHalicarnassus, Bodrum (Tomb of Mausolus) which is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The Mausoleum’s in-situ position and its sacred area maintains authenticity of its architectural structure in present day. Different renovation applications that are original restorations in that age can be observed on the eastern terrace wall. Although late period structuring on the podium caused the removing of blocks of the platform at some points and taking out part of the marble blocks, this damage doesn’t disrupt the authenticity.

The Mausoleum and sacred area are under protection by the Turkish Legislation for Preservation of Cultural and Natural Property, Law No.: 2863. İzmir II Regional Council for Conservation of Cultural and Natural Heritage has registered the sacred area of Mausoleum as a 1st degree of archaeological site with the decision dated 13.04.1985 and numbered 916.

Comparison with other similar properties

It is difficult to find parallels with the mausoleum and sacred area of Hecatomnus as it constitutes a unique example of the funerary architecture with regard to its architectural and artistic design. In fact, there was no parallel as to this type of mausoleum even in the Roman period ofAnatoliawhen the sarcophagus tradition was spreading. The only monument to which the mausoleum and sacred area of Hecatomnus can be compared is the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, Bodrum since both monuments were the products of similar historical, cultural and artistic context.