The vast majority of the monuments shown here are rock monuments built for religious/cultic purposes. It is believed that they were built to worship gods (particularly the Phrygian mother goddess Matar) and present votive offerings. A great majority of the monuments are built facing an eastward direction. Generally they are divided into three main groups: façades, niches, and altars / idols.
Niches: Technically, they have no difference than the niches located in the center of the façades. These monuments are only consisting of a niche without a surrounding façade. They are shallow cavities made in oval or rectangular shape on the steep faces of the rocks, usually at heights easily accessible from the ground. Most of them also have a simple frame carved in low relief.
Altar and Idols: Three-dimensional cult structures carved from the bedrock, for the purpose of worship, and offering of sacrifices and votive gifts. They are usually built on the top or edge of accessible low lying rocks. Typically they have the low relief of one or two (rarely three) idols with simple rounded heads and rectangular bodies, symbolizing the goddess/god. Some altars have a 'seat' shaped top, instead of idols. They are defined as 'stylized idol' by some researchers (this term is used here too) or as 'throne' by some others. Many altars also have one or more steps that lead to the idol(s). Some have only a flat platform instead of an idol, while some others have only idol(s) with no steps. But basically it is thought that all these structures were used for similar ritualistic/cultic purposes.
Fortresses (Kales): In accordance with the general literature, in this website the word 'kale' (Turkish for 'fortress') is used. Phrygian kales in the highland region are usually built on high rocky hills in order to control the entrances and surroundings of the valleys where the settlements are located. They have a natural defense structure with steep rocks surrounding them. The defenses are strengthened with stone walls erected in between gaps among the rocks. A large part of these kales continued to be used (sometimes for different purposes) in the Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine periods.
Phrygian Inscriptions: Phrygian is an Indo-European language. It is most closely related to the Archaic Greek. The Phrygian script is basically same with the Greek alphabet, there are a few additional Phrygian characters. According to the dating of the inscriptions, it is at least as old as Greek. Inscriptions are divided into two groups as old (Paleo-Phrygian) and new (Neo Phrygian). Old Phrygian inscriptions are dated between 8th and 4th centuries BCE. New Phrygian was written in the Greek alphabet belonging to the Roman period, and was used only between the 1st and 3rd centuries CE. The most of the inscriptions are written sinistroverse (from right to left) but there are also considerable number of dextroverse (from left to right) and boustrophedon (starting either from left or right but changes direction in alternating lines) incriptions. Although Phrygian can be read phonetically, it has not been fully deciphered yet. The Phrygians left very little written work compared to their contemporaries. Most of these are in the form of votive inscriptions and are found on religious structures such as rock façades, niches and altars. In addition, there are usually one-word graffiti written on ceramic or metal vessels and thought to be related to daily life.
Dating: Due to the insufficient evidence about Phrygians, the issue of dating rock monuments is quite troublesome. Existing findings are only sufficient to propose dividing the Phrygian history into a few periods at most. Almost all the dates used in these pages are based on Berndt-Ersöz's (2006) proposals: Early Phrygian (950-800 BCE), Middle Phrygian I (800-600 BCE), Middle Phrygian II (600-550 BCE), Late Phrygian (550-330 BCE).
Berndt-Ersöz, S. 2006. Phrygian Rock Cult Shrines. Structure, Function and Cult Practice, Leiden.
Brixhe, C. & M. Lejeune. 1984. Corpus des inscriptions paléo-phrygiennes, Paris.
Haspels, C. H. E. 1971 The Highlands of Phrygia. Sites and monuments, Princeton.
Tüfekçi-Sivas, T. 1999 Eskişehir-Afyonkarahisar- Kütahya İl Sınırları İçindeki Phryg Kaya Anıtları, Anadolu Üniversitesi Yayınları No:1156, Eskişehir.