The necropolis is one of the best preserved and extensive of its kind in the world. This city of the dead contains tumuli, sarcophagi and house shaped tombs lying stretched along both sides of the road extending 2km to the north. Most of about the 1200 tombs were constructed with local varieties of limestone. The extent of this necropolis attests again to the importance Hierapolis had in the Antiquity. It is worth taking one’s time to wander amongst the tombs, that date from antiquity to early Christian times, and marvel at the ostentation that these residents of Heirapolis afforded to their tombs. It has a fairyland quality.
Tomb of King Antiochus II Theos (Belevi Mausoleum)
Belevi, on the road between Ephesus and Sardis
It is a two-storey grave-monument, formed by a high pedestal including a burial-chamber and an upper level, with a rectangular cella-like hypaethral building surrounded by a peristastis.
The foundation of the mausoleum was square; each side measuring some 29.65 m, suggesting a length of 100 feet of 0.2965 m. The mausoleum was two stories. On the ground level there were three steps supporting the base mouldings. Each plain socle was surmounted by torus, [cavetto] and Lesbian cyma. Ten courses of large neatly cut ashlars, 69–88 cm high, which constituted the facing of the podium, made for a total height of 11.37 m.A low architrave, 45 cm high, and a higher Doric frieze ran around the top of the podium. The south side had a deep recess that was cut into the rock core for the burial chamber, which was placed in the centre and sealed from outside. This was done in order to conceal what was in the monument and to protect the monument from tomb raiders. The chamber to which Antiochus II was buried in was a small vestibule with a rectangular back room for his body to be put in a barrel-vault. There was an unfinished false door on the north side of the structure. The top storey had 3 steps measuring 1.12 m high. The top slope served as a stylobate for a Corinthian Peristalsis, with eight columns on each side. The roof had flat marble tiles.
This is a graceful, two-chamber monument with an Ionic facade of four semi-columns which support the entablature and the pediment. In the pediment’s hollow, a semi-declining couple is depicted in fresco. The three fleuron points which decorate the pediment retain their intense red and blue colours untouched, while the whole vaulted roof of the antechamber is painted with water lilies and fleuron (anthemia) in white and violet tones on a light blue background. The tomb gets its conventional name from these flowers.
The facade’s entrance was blocked by simple stone plinths, while the passageway from the first to the second chamber used to close with a monumental two-leaved marble door, which today we see fallen to the chamber floor. Inside the main death chamber, a four-sided stone base is preserved which contained some kind of metal vessel or reliquary with the bones of the dead.