Juliopolis (Iuliopolis) in Historical Sources

Written sources mention Juliopolis under various names. One of them, Gordioukome, shows that the settlement was dated before the Roman Empire period.

Cleon of Gordioukome transformed the village into a city and renamed it Juliopolis (Ἰουλιούπολις) in honor of Emperor Augustus (27 BC - 14 AD) with whom he fought against Marcus Antonius in the Battle of Actium (31 BC). Juliopolis was one of the five Bithynian cities mentioned by Galen (AD 129 - c. 200/216) where a grain called zeopyros, which is "inferior to wheat but superior to Thracian rye", was cultivated. Then the city became one of the dioceses of Galatia Prima. Church records also mention Juliopolis as one of the episcopal centers in the region from the 4th century AD.


The Chronicon Paschale, a source dating to the 7th century, states Juliopolis as one of four formerly remarkable cities in Bithynia, along with Nicomedia, Nicaea, and Apameia. In the 9th century, Juliopolis was renamed Basilion in the name of Emperor Basil I (867-886 AD). There has been no confirmed record of the city after the 11th century.

The location of Juliopolis was one of the significant factors that contributed to the development of the city. As recorded in several ancient travel books (c. 3-4th centuries AD), the city was on the Skopas River (Aladağ Stream) along the route known as the Pilgrim Road. Extending from Constantinople to Ancyra (Ankara) and even the Levant, this road was used for pilgrimage and military expeditions.


French, D.H. (2016). Roman Roads & Milestones of Asia Minor, Vol.4 The roads, Fasc.4.1 Notes on the Itıneraria. British Institute at Ankara, Electronic Monograph 10.

According to Pliny the Younger, the town was of regional importance due to its strategic location at the entrance to Bithynia, through which all travelers would pass. As known, after the proclamation of his empire, Hadrian arrived in Juliopolis on 11 November 117 after Ancyra on his journey to Rome, which started from Mopsucrene, close to Tarsus. 

In addition, Roman Emperors such as Septimius Severus (193-211) and Caracalla (211-17 AD) also used this route during their eastern campaigns. Another significant factor in the development of the settlement was its proximity and connection to Ankara, one of the most important cities of Anatolia, from the period of Diocletian (284-305) until the Seljuk conquest in the last quarter of the 11th century. Ankara, the capital of Galatia, was a thriving commercial center as it was a military base and the intersection of many roads of strategical importance. Therefore, such a location seems to have had notable effects on the traffic density passing through Juliopolis along the Pilgrim Road.

Julıopolıs’te Arkeolojik Araştırmalar

Archaeological Studies in Juliopolis

Juliopolis Ancient City is located approximately 122 km northwest of Ankara, in Nallıhan District Çayırhan District. It is near Eskişehir and Sarılar and Yardibi villages, which were flooded in 1956 during the construction of the Sarıyar Dam.

The above-water part of the ancient city is located on the northeastern shore of the reservoir.

This area was investigated as part of the salvage excavation carried out by the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. Archaeological features of the site include the necropoles (which were divided into eastern and western parts by the Skopas River (Aladağ Stream) and had been previously connected by a bridge), a north-south oriented defense wall built with the opus mixtum technique on the western side of the Eastern Necropolis, and the remains of an Early Byzantine church in the Eastern Necropolis.

According to Procopius, Justinian had another wall built 150 m away from the main wall in Juliopolis to prevent the floodwaters from weakening the main wall.

Excluding regional studies in the 19th and 20th centuries, recent research shows that the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations started its first salvage excavation in 1991 after the Turkish Electricity Authority wanted to use the area for ash storage. Later, the necropolis was discovered to belong to Juliopolis after the Juliopolis-minted coins found in the tombs, and David H. French defined the location of the city using the three milestones found near the site.

Unfortunately, the Ancient City of Juliopolis was actively looted from 1991 until 2009, when the excavations started again by the Museum Directorate. In this sense, these excavations are of great importance in preventing destruction and obtaining more information about the ancient city. These studies continued seasonally between 2009 and 2021 (except 2014).

The epigraphic and historical-geographical studies of Akdeniz University Mediterranean Languages and Cultures Research Center (ADKAM) in 2011-2014 enriched the research carried out within the framework of the excavations. 


The Mediterranean Cultural Heritage Research Association (AKMAD) has joined in research on the ancient city in 2021 to contribute to the cultural heritage awareness in the region

Some of the various artifacts from the excavations are exhibited in the Juliopolis showcases in the Ankara Excavations section of the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. 

Among 764 tombs excavated until 2021, the most common types are the rock-cut cist graves with various cover systems cut into the bedrock.

This is a feature suitable for the geology and the topography of the area, and this type of burial is followed by ones directly into the ground using stone covers and chamber tombs cut into the rock.

The tombs contain a variety of grave goods, including precious and semi-precious jewelry, coins, metal, glass, bone and ceramic objects, and a vast iconographic repertoire thought to be associated with the cults practiced by the inhabitants of the city. The strigils found together with perfume and oil containers in many tombs indicate the existence of a bath-gymnasium complex in Juliopolis.

Yararlanılan Kaynaklar

Arslan, M. ve Metin, M. (Ed.) (2013). Juliopolis. Ankara: Ankara Kalkınma Ajansı.

Büyükkarakaya, A.M., Alpagut, A., Çubukçu, E. ve Cavalli, F. (2018). Juliopolis (Iuliopolis) Antropolojik Araştırmaları: İlk Çalışmalar. Ankara Araştırmaları Dergisi Cilt 6, Sayı 2: 111-126, DOI:10.5505/jas.2018.43433

Devecioğlu, Ü. (2013), Roma İmparatorluk Dönemi Juliopolis Şehir Sikkeleri, (Yayımlanmamış Yüksek Lisans Tezi), Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü, Gazi Üniversitesi, Ankara.

Onur, F. (2014), Epigraphic research around Juliopolis I: a historical and geographical overview, Gephyra, 11, 65-83.

Detaylı referans bilgisi için bkz. Büyükkarakaya, A.M., Vorobyeva, E., Dolmuş, M., Metin, M., Karadağ, D.K., Güleryüz, Ö., Doğan, E., Bütün, E., Ulusoy, İ. ve Sertalp, E. (2021). Juliopolis Dijital Arkeoloji Arşivi Çalışmaları. 1921-2021 Asırlık Çınar Anadolu Medeniyetleri 100 Yaşında kitabı içinde, Editörler: Yusuf Kıraç, Umut Alagöz, Zehra Fürüzen Taşkıran, Asuman Alpagut, Grafiker, Ankara; ss.323-338.