Eurymedon Bridge, Antalya, Turkey | CruiseBe
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Eurymedon Bridge


History and museums
,
ancient, greko-roman landmark



The Eurymedon Bridge was a late Roman bridge over the river Eurymedon (modern Köprüçay), near Aspendos in Pamphylia in southern Anatolia. The foundations and several remnants (spolia) of the Roman structure were used by the Seljuqs to build a new bridge in the 13th century, the Köprüpazar Köprüsü, which stands to this day. The bridge is marked by a significant displacement of its course in the middle, following the ancient piers.

 

Roman bridge

Structure

The shape and course of the Roman-era bridge have been reconstructed digitally, based on the still extant remains of the ancient structure: parts of the ramps, the abutments, as well as the foundation of a pier. Several pieces of the original bridge were found scattered in the river bed and on both banks, but given the fact that they had been dislodged from their original position, they were not considered during the reconstruction.

As reconstructed, the bridge had a length of 259.50 m and a width of 9.44 m, featuring nine semicircular arches. It crossed the river at a straight angle, although its otherwise straight course bent slightly to the left on its right end. The two ramps provide important information on the overall height of the structure. The gradient on both is similar (12.3% for the left, 12.2% for the right), and on both ends, the slope ends already over the bank, before the main part of the bridge, which means that the level of the bridge itself remained constant, at a level c. 4.1 m higher than the later Seljuq structure.

This middle section stood on six arches, complemented on the two banks by three smaller arches (one on the right and two on the left) which served as spillways in case the river overflowed. At its normal level, the river flowed between the three central arches, constrained by double-wedge-shaped reinforcements of masonry, placed at the two outer pillars and intended to prevent their undermining by the river. These masonry structures were - according to the archaeological record - markedly higher on the upstream side (8.15 m) than on the downstream (4.76 m). In addition, wedge-shaped breakwaters were added on the piers, although not all piers feature them on both sides. The clear spans of the three central arches have been determined at 23.52 m for the central arch and 14.95 m for the two flanking arches, while the two piers supporting the central arch were measured at 9.60 m.

The gaps in the right end of the structure reveal the hollow chamber construction method of the bridge deck, typical of several Roman bridges in Asia Minor, e.g. the Aesepus Bridge. The great height of the ancient structure is further verified by the discovery of 1.5 m long iron threaded rods, which, bound together with hooks and loops, were used to reinforce the masonry in the bridge's foundations. The main body of the bridge was built using concrete, which survives in at least one Seljuq-era pier as a foundation.

Dating

The exact date of the bridge's construction is uncertain. The date of construction is closely connected with the Aqueduct of Aspendos, parts of which were re-used in the bridge. In the outer shell of the bridge alone, 250 pipe-shaped stones from the aqueduct's main pressure conduit were re-used. Since the aqueduct has been known to have functioned until into the 4th century AD, that provides a terminus post quem for the construction of the Eurymedon bridge, although it is still possible that an earlier bridge already existed on this location. This bridge could possibly have been destroyed in the large earthquake of May 363, which also ruined the aqueduct, thus explaining the use of the latter's duct stones in the rebuilding of the bridge.

Seljuq bridge

In the early 13th century, the Seljuq Sultan Kayqubad I (1219–1237) built a new bridge over the remains of the late antique structure, which had collapsed, probably also because of an earthquake. The Seljuq builders followed closely the course of the Roman remains, even in sections where the piers had been partly moved downstream from their original position; as a result, the Seljuq bridge features a quite sharp displacement. This zigzag course, formed by two successive, 90 degree bends, in combination with the pointed arches give the Seljuq-era bridge an appearance that is quite distinct from that of its Roman precursor.

The Seljuq bridge is also considerably reduced in dimensions, something that allowed the full use of the Roman remains. Thus, for instance, the reduction of the width to almost half the original made the integration of halfway surviving ancient piers possible. The medieval arches were also 4.1 m lower than the Roman ones, and the length of the bridge was shortened, so that the new bridge ramp began at the place where the Roman structure had already reached its final height level.

The bridge is mainly constructed of stone blocks, while parts of the antique structure have been reused, including the duct stones, which were built into the new ramp. Restoration works in the late 1990s in the bridge's crumbling breastwork also revealed stone inscriptions in Greek and Arabic.


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