- Across the river from Xanthus, 2 1/2 miles to the
south-west and 2 miles from the coast, is the well-known
sanctuary of Leto. Until 1962 little was to be seen
beyond a theatre and a mass of blocks marking the site of
a temple; since then the French excavators have uncovered
the major part of the sanctuary and adjoining building,
working largely under the water-table, and have recovered
many interesting document concerning it. The excavation
is continuing at the time of writing, and the publication
is not yet complete.
- (George E. Bean. Lycian Turkey. 1978).
- Letoon (Roman Letoum) was not a
city in antiquity but rather a sanctuary precinct
associated with the worship of Leto and her children,
Artemis and Apollo. A sacred site since perhaps the 7th
century BC, Letoon was administered by Xanthos, the
capital city of the Lycian Federation approximately 3 1/2
kilometers to the south-west. Lycia was initially
unaffected by the Roman occupation of Asia Minor in 167
BC. This peaceful independence lasted until 42 BC when
Xanthus was destroyed during the Roman Liberators' civil
war. Following the war, Xanthus was restored and Lycia
experienced a tentative co-existence with Rome until the
5th century AD. Letoon continued to serve as a center for
cult worship until perhaps the 7th century AD when the
site was abandoned.
- The archaeological site of Letoon
is approximately midway between the modern Turkish cities
of Fethiye and Kas and is an easy hour's drive from
either. Located in the agricultural community of
Kumluova, the ruins overlook fertile fields and rows of
greenhouses growing tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and
- The theatre is the largest and
most complete structure found at the Letoon sanctuary and
dates from the first half of the 2nd century BC (Le Roy).
A regional earthquake in 141 AD most likely prompted a
major Roman reconstruction of the original theatre, and
the existing ruins date from this 2nd century renovation.
Excavations at Letoon began in1962 under the direction of
H. Metzger in conjunction with a French archaeological
mission to excavate the ancient site at at Xanthus. The
sancturary of Leto (Letoon) was inscribed on the World
Heritage List in 1988.
- The 76 meter wide cavea exceeds a
semicircle and faces the northwest. Carved mainly from
living rock, the ima cavea (lower seating section)
contains 17 rows of seats divided into 11 cunei by 10
staircases; the summa cavea contains 20 rows of seats in
20 cunei. A praecinctio (walkway) separates the two
seating sections. Stone staircases at the rear of the
praecinctio provide access to the summa cavea and a row
of circular post-holes can be found at the front,
immediately behind the upper row of ima cavea seats. A
second row of post-holes can be found in the summa cavea,
eight rows down from the top. It could be speculated that
these holes were related to a velarium or shade-providing
awning. Both the ima and summa cavea have an upper most
row of seats with continuous backs.
- Two vaulted passageways run under
the summa cavea and provide access to the praecinctio on
the left and right side of the cavea. The entrance to the
west archway is decorated by "plain pilasters supporting
triglyph frieze with pediment above; east doorway, larger
and more richly decorated, has rectangular niches in
spandrels, 3-fascia architrave and triglyph frieze with
bearded heads of Dionysus, tragic and comic masks and
other reliefs in metopes (Sear 381).
- The orchestra has an estimated
diameter of 30 meters although at least half remains
unexcavated. No remains of a podium or scaenae frons
(stage and stage house façade) are visible at the
George E. Lycian Turkey: An Archaeological Guide.
2nd ed. London: John Murray Ltd., 1989.
Patty and Kemal ."Lycian Sites." 15 February 2009
Frank. Roman Theatres: An Architectural Study.
Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press,
R.A. Argos and the Argolid: From the End of the Bronze
Age to the Roman Occupation. Ithaca NY: Cornell UP,
Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites (Eds.
Richard Stillwell, William L. MacDonald, Marian Holland