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Ancient City of Assos

Ancient City of Assos
Ancient City of Assos

Ancient City of Assos

The ancient city of Assos, located at the outskirts of a volcanic hill on the southern coast of the Troad, was one of the most opulent cities of Asia Minor during the classical antiquity. Assos most likely became a Greek city state (polis) in the 7th century BC, after the arrival of newcomers from Methymna on Lesbos (Midilli). The settlement at Assos has continued to flourish through the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman periods until today. Assos was apparently living its golden age in the fourth century BC when Aristotle and several other students of Plato preferred to live here between the years of 347-345 BC. Assos was also visited by St. Paulus in 57 BC.

The ancient city of Assos is a typical example of a Greek city with all well- preserved structures that define it, including the acropolis, the necropolis, the theatre, the gymnasium, the bouleuterion, the agora, the fortifications, and the harbor. Assos was first excavated by an American team (1881-1883) sponsored by the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) and under the direction of J. Clark and H. Bacon. Two-thirds of the artifacts recovered during these excavations were taken to the American team to be taken to Boston based on the regulations of the Act of Antiquities of that time. Following nearly a century of interval, Ü. Serdaroğlu restarted archaeological excavations in 1985 and continued until 2005. Archaeological excavations at Assos have been directed by N. Arslan from Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University since 2006.

Assos is noted with a strong fortification system extending some 3.5 km in length. These 2.50 m thick walls were supported mainly by square buttresses, though there is one example the buttress is semi-circular. The fortifications first built in the 6th century BC underwent to changes until the 3rd century BC. The Doric Temple of Athena (540/530 BC) crowning the acropolis of Assos represents a unique example for having a frieze with mythological scenes. These friezes at present are kept at museums located in Boston, Louvre, Istanbul, and Çanakkale. The Acropolis was transformed into a fortress in the Late Byzantine Age and a new fortification was built around it. The necropolis (cemetery) in front of the West Gate was continuously used from the 7th century BC to the 3rd century AD. The use of inhumation and cremation as a burial custom varies from time at the necropolis. The deceased were deposited in jars, stone urns, and sarcophagi. Monumental chamber tombs were also built in the Roman period.

The gymnasium is located to the north of the I road that linked the West Gate with the agora. The square courtyard (52 x 52 m.) is surrounded by a colonnade composed of Doric style columns. Repaired by Quintus Lollius Philetaeirus in the Early Roman Imperial era, the Gymnasium was converted into a church in the 6th century AD. The agora, which was the most important public area of the city, consists of an artificial space on the southern slope of the acropolis. This space is surrounded by a temple from the west, the bouleuterion from the east and two stoa buildings from the south and the north.

The boulueterion (council house) was built I towards the end of 4th century BC in a square plan (20.60 x 20.60 m), covered by a wooden roof carried by four columns. This bouleuterion with a seating capacity of 500 people apparently had wooden seats. The stoa buildings, which borders the south and the north of the agora, were two-storey high and hundreds of meters in length. T: he bathhouse located on the terrace to the south of the agora was built by Lolia Antiochis at the beginning of the 1st century AD. This bath was converted into a church by Helladios in the 5th century AD.

The theater could be numbered among the typical Greek theaters with a horseshoe orchestra. This theater, which was built at the end of the 4th century BC, has an estimated seating capacity of 5000 people. The balustrades added to the first row of the seats during the Roman period indicates that gladiator and animal fights also took place here after changes made in the building. on the seats of the theater imply that certain people representing different professions (e.g., masons, blacksmiths, and leather workers) sat separately in The names inscribed groups during this period.

The ancient city of Assos also scene to I intensive habitation during the Early Byzantine period. While there were many churches outside and inside the fortifications, the density of residences occupying the in the southern and western parts of the city is remarkable. Excavations were conducted in the Ayazma Church and the Western Church located outside of the city. All these churches identified in the city have a basilical form defined by three aisles. The Xenodochion (guest house) and the bishopric reception hall located behind the West Gate are other important public buildings representing the Byzantine period at Assos.

There are two harbors in the south of the city. Each harbor is formed by a mole. The foundations of one of these moles are still seen under the water.