Ancient City of Alexandria Troas

Ancient City of Alexandria Troas
Ancient City of Alexandria Troas

The ancient city was founded by Antigonos Monophthalmos and named Antigoneia during the early Hellenistic Period in 311 BC., as a result of a forced migration (Synoikismos) for the people of Neandreia, Larisa, Kolonai, Hamaxitus, Cebrene and Scepsis, through which the new population was composed. It was solidified by Lysimachus in 301 BC. under the name Alexandria Troas and the city became a Roman colony with the name colonia Augusta Troadensis, before 12 BC., during the reign of Emperor Augustus. Retired soldiers, who had fought for Rome, tried to turn this city into a Roman one and it was after that period Alexandria Troas began to advance.

In 1st century AD., Paul the Apostle visited the city twice and set sail for Greece from the ancient city’s port in order to introduce Christianity. It is known thanks to the narratives in the Bible that Paul the Apostle stayed in the city for a while after his second travel and had conversations about Christianity. Significant water structures such as baths, fountains and water delivery systems were built in 2nd century AD. thanks to the support of Roman Emperor Hadrian.

Reign of Emperor Hadrian became a period during which the city developed financially and colossal columns, which were produced using granite defined marmor troadense, were exported to various Roman settlements all over the Mediterranean basin. Although Alexandria Troas was considered as one of the candidates during the phase of changing Empire’s capital by Constantine the Great in 4th century AD., this idea was not realized. The life in the ancient city, whose name is mentioned in some Christian texts from 5th to 8th century AD., declined and continued only until 11th-13th centuries AD.

It was determined that the ancient city, which is today surrounded by walls longer than 8 km in length, used to spread over a terrain about 4500 decare. The structuring, which expanded over terraces since the city’s foundation, shows continuity with the structures on the new terraces widened during the Roman period.

The most significant section of the Roman Colonial city, which spreads over a vast terrain from Aegean Sea to Kestanbol Thermal Spring, which is about 4,5 km to the east, is the Forum area on which intensive archaeological researches and excavations continue. This area used to constitute the center of the Roman settlement and today, there located are the Kryptoportikus in the west, which enables passage to down agora, Hellenistic stoa and Hellenistic period market structure behind it.

The north of the area is limited by the east-west oriented street of Decumanus. To the east, on the other hand, there lies Odeion, which is yet to be excavated, podium hall, of which excavation has been completed, and the Polygonal structure behind it. On the Forum plateau, a podium temple, which is likely to have been dedicated to Emperor August and goddess Rome, and a forum fountain, in front of the temple’s north face, were placed. This temple is the first religious structure of the period in which ancient city was turned into a Roman colony. Around the forum area and at its borders, there is an underground vaulted gallery to the west, and two porches to the east and the south, which are likely to have been divided in the middle by a colonnade. To the north, on the other hand, existence of one more porch placed over the vaults of the street is very probable. Except from the Forum, Herodes Atticus Bath, monumental fountain structure, eastern gate, Maldelik- Capitolium, walls and the ancient port are among the main structures to be seen today.

The systematic surface researches were initiated by Prof. Dr. Coşkun Özgünel and turned into systematic excavations beginning in 1997 by Prof. Dr. Elmar Schwertheim and this team. The excavation and the researches have been conducted by Prof. Dr. Erhan Öztepe from Ankara University and his team since 2011.