In antique times in Anatolia, the region between the Meander (Menderes) and Indus (Dalaman) rivers in the south was called Caria. The inhabitants were Carians and Lelegians. In his Iliad, Homeros describes the Carians as the natives of Anatolia, defending their country against Greeks in joint campaigns in collaboration with the Trojans.

As one of the first cities in Carian region, Mugla, located inland, could not benefit from the naval trade and was therefore not so affluent as its contemporaries like Halicarnassos and Mylasa. The antique name of Mugla is open for discussion. Various sources refer to the city as Mogola, Mobella or Mobolia.

There are almost no ruins to enlighten the history of Muğla. Whatever exists were found quite accidentally. On the high hill to the north of the city, the presence of some insignificant ancient remains indicate that the acropolis was located here. Two inscriptions unearthed within the city are from the 2nd century B.C., attesting to Rhodian domination.

In the 13th century B.C., following the invasion by Ramses II, the Carian region was under Egyptian rule for some time. The Anatolian tribes were defeated during the Trojan War and the Dorians settled along the southern shores in 1000 B.C. In 546 B.C., the Persians enslaved the Lycian King Croesus and took over the region when Caria became a satrapship governed by kings of its own race.

In 334 B.C., Alexander arrived in Anatolia and, following the shore line, conquered first Halicarnassos (Bodrum) and then Mugla. After his withdrawal from the region, Muğla went through a dark period of tumult. In 188 B.C., with the aid of the Romans, Muğla fell under the reign of the Pergamum Kingdom. However, Attalus III, the King of Pergamum, bequeathed all the kingdom, including the Muğla region, to the Romans in 133 B.C., by virtue of which the city became a Roman province. For some time the area changed hands among various generals and dictators. In 395 A.D., when the Roman Empire was divided into two, it became part of the Eastern Romans (Byzantines).

The Byzantine reign came to an end in 800 A.D. when the Abbasid Caliph Harun Al-Rashid arrived in the region, whereupon the Islamic influence became predominant.
Following the Manzikert (Malazgirt) War, Anatolia was "Turkified" and some sources mention the arrival of Suleiman Shah (Kilij Aslan I) in 1074 A.D.

During the decline of Seljukians in 1284, the region was called Menteşe due to the domination by Menteşe Beg. During the reign of the last Chief of Menteşe, Ilyas Beg, by late 14th century (1390-1391), the region was con-quered by Bayezid I (The Thunderbolt) and, following the invasion of Tamerlane (Timur), it was captured by the Ottomans in 1424 which was the starting point of dominant Turkish rule.


The Directorate of the Muğla Museum is in the old prison behind the courthouse. In late 1992, the excavations carried out at Kaklıcatepe near Özlüce village revealed numerous animal and plant fossils in February, 1994.

The fossils exhibited at the Muğla Museum are of creatures that lived 9-5 billion years ago. These were habitants of a vast area between Eastern Asia and Spain before they became extinct. As these fossils were first discovered in the Tervel territory in Spain, this period is called Turolian.
During the excavations, numerous fossils of giraffes, horned animals, rhinoceros, proboscidians, wild boars, horses and carnivorous animals, as well as various vegetation were unearthed. Some of these fossils are exhibited in the Natural History section of the Museum. Another part of the Museum open to the public is the Ethnographical Section where outfits and daily household utensils from various parts of Muğla are exhibited.

The Archaeological pieces are stored at the Muğla Museum for the time being while work is under way to open the Archaeological Section.


The antique Stratoniceia city is at Eskihisar village, located on the Yatağan-Milas highway 6-7 km. west of Yatağan, Muğla.

The city was founded in the 3rd century B.C. The Syrian king, Seleucus I, arranged for the marriage of his wife, Stratonice, with his son Antiochus who founded the city in honour of his erstwhile stepmother and present wife.

According to Strabon, wanderer and writer, the city adorned with beautiful buildings, was later given to Rhodes as a present at an uncertain date. The Rhodians later lost their dominance but took over again in 197 B.C. The Roman Senate decreed Caria's independence in 167 B.C., thus ending the Rhodian sovereignty. The city was captured by Mithridates in 88 B.C. Labienus, at the head of his Parthian hordes, attacked the city in 40 B.C. From the coins found during the excavations, the Stratoniceians started minting their own money in 167 B.C., when they gained their independence from Rhodes, until the time of Gallienus (253-268 B.C.).

The acropolis is on the hilltop on the south, fortified by a ringwall around the summit. To the north, on a terrace at the hillside (just beyond the present highway) there are remains of a small temple with an inscription stating that it was devoted to the cult of Emperors. Below this is a large theatre. The cavea is divided by stairways into nine cunei and there is a single diazoma. The stagebuilding is now in evidence to a large scale by virtue of excavations.

Eskihisar village, abandoned now, was built on the ruins of the ancient city.

The city was surrounded by walls of which only insignificant ruins are now discernible. In the northeastern corner of the settlement, there are remains of a mighty fortress, solidly constructed of large, square blocks with some limestone mortar. However, it must have had some repairs, evidenced by inferior masonry with many reused inscribed stones and columndrums in certain portions. The main entrance gate on the north is in massive broadand-narrow masonry. From the ruins near the gate, it is evident that it had a column over it. The gate has two entrances with a nymphaeum in between. Beyond the gate is a colonnaded square and a road.

At the centre of the city, there is a bouleterion in the form of a small theatre. The single door on the west side of the building is the entrance gate. This building was thought to be the Temple of Serapis but the inscription found in excavations proved this to be erroneous. On the outer wall of the Bouleterion facing north, the price list of Diocletianus and the regulations for its application are written in Latin. The lower rows of seats in the building have survived.

The agora is purported to be to the west of the Bouleterion. However, the price list on the north wall and the colonnaded road unearthed during excavations indicate that the agora was around the Bouleterion. To the west of the city, there is the gymnasium where the youth of antique Greek and Roman period received mental and physical education and took part in sports activities. The excavations revealed the exedra in the palaestra, as well as two rooms on the left and on the right.
The Sacred Road, lined with tombs and starting from the entrance gate, passes through the necropolis and reaches the Temple of Hecate at Lagina. The necropolis now lies beneath the coal mine.

Excavations, presided by Prof. Dr.  M. Çetin Şahin, are still under way at Stratoniceia. The pieces unearthed are exhibited at the excavation site.


The Temple of Hecate at Lagina is within the Turgut region of Yatağan, Muğla. The ruins of Lagina may be reached by an asphalt road of 9 km., which branches to the right past the thermal power plant on the Yatağan-Milas highway.

The Lagina sanctuary, which was a prominent cult centre of the Carians, is still famous today and is also known by the name of Leyne.

Recent research has revealed that this region was inhabited from the Antique Bronze Age (3000 B.C.) up to the present. The kings of Seleucus, by virtue of great constructional efforts, built up the Lagina sanctuary as a religious centre, and the city of Stratoniceia, 11 km. away, was the political centre.

The inscriptions at Lagina and on the walls of Bouleterion at Stratoniceia reveal that those two cities, were connected by a Sacred Road, and during festivities, a splendid ritual procession carried the key of the temple from Lagina to Stratoniceia.
Hecate, the deity of Lagina, is the grandchild of Caios and Phoibe, Titan descendants of the sun. Her father is Perses and her mother is Asterie.
Asterie and Leto are twin sisters. Hence, Apollon, Artemis and Hecate are cousins.

An Anatolian deity, Hecate reigns over air, land, and sea. Therefore, in works of art she is represented as a single body, but, generally with three heads. She is empowered to open the door of Hades of the underworld. Hecate is also the mistress of the dead. She is present at funerals and takes delivery of the dead spirits. She is the sender of bad dreams (nightmares), ghosts and spectres, but, as sender, can also defend man against them. At the same time, Hecate rules over oracles, magic and spells. Oracles and witches are Hecate's priests.

Her principal attributes are a female dog, a female wolf, a mare, a snake, a hatchet, a dagger, a key, a torch, an earthenware pot and a crescent moon.
At the Lagina sanctuary, there are propylon (monumental gateway), the interconnecting Sacred Road, altar (sacrificial and dipping place), peribolos (wall encircling the sanctuary) Doric stoa and the Temple of Hecate.

The sanctuary is surrounded by walls of about two meters in height, which also form the back wall of the stoa. The monumental entrance building, with three entrances and an apsis at the western end supported by four Ionian columns, is connected to the stoa with a door.

From the monumental entrance gate to the altar, there are ten rows of steps leading to the stone-paved road.

The temple, encircled with five rows of steps, located on an Attic Ionian pedestal, with a single row of columns with Corinthian capital, is at the centre of the sanctuary. The temple is pseudo-dipteral with 8x11 columns, and is built in the Corinthian style. It includes a pronaos with two Ionian columns.

The archaeological excavations at the Lagina sanctuary are significant in being the first one carried out by Turkish scholars. The work was first instigated by Messrs. Osman Hamdi and Halit Ethem. In 1993, the archaeological excavations and restoration work were resumed, presided by the Directorate of the Muğla Museum, with architect and archaeologist Ahmet Tırpan as scientific advisor. The frescos of the temple were taken to the Archaeological Museum of Istanbul by Mr. Osman Hamdi where they are exhibited. Four separate subjects appear on the frescos. ( In the east, scenes from the life of Zeus; on the west, the battle between gods and giants; on the south, the meeting of Carian deities; on the north the battle of Amazons).


Within the boundaries of Ula, in the Gökova Bay, the Island of Cedreae ( the Cedreae antique city) is one of the most interesting sites both from the archaeological and natural point of view, where cultural tourism is highly concentrated. The Island of Cedreae may be reached by boats either from Gökova-Akyaka or from Çamlıköy.

With numerous towers in regular ashlars, the temple of Apollo, succeeded by a Christian church; a good-sized theatre in good condition, and an agora which is still discernible, the remains of the antique harbour, are worth a visit at the Island of Cedreae. The sand along the shore is worthy of notice which rarely exists within the geographical zone of our country. The carbonate in the spring waters flowing into sea envelops the fine sand particles, forming the sand called oolit and pizolit. Within the Ula region, the calcium carbonate accumulates on fine particles with each movement of the waves and the intake by these particles of carbonate increases. This phenomenon is unique within the climatic zone around Anatolia and in the surrounding seas. The formation of these sandy particles takes a long time and thus cannot be easily replaced.

It is rumoured that Cleopatra, the famous Egyptian queen, owed her beauty to these sands. That is why the island is also called the Island of Cleopatra.