- Foundation - History
is believed that the name of Priene is not Greek but is
related to pre - Greek names of Cretan origin, such as
Praisos and Priansos. In recent years, the theory gains
weight that Priene was one of the cities of the Kingdom of
Ahhiyava, which is believed to have been founded in the
Miletus region, and that its name also derives from that
origin. Therefore, our knowledge of the initial foundation
of the city, whose existence goes back to the 2nd millennium
BC, rests on hypotheses. The fact that the location of the
pre - 4th century BC Priene has not yet been able to be
determined up to the present day, plays an important role in
to the information gathered from ancient sources, Pausanias
has written that Priene was founded by Aipythos, son of
Neleus of Athens, and by Philotas of Thevai, and that the
native population was Carian, whereas Strabo gave the
information that the city was founded by Philatos and that
it was then called Kadme.
is also believed that Priene was founded (like Pitane,
Myrina, Kyme and Ephesus) by Amazon queens.
on the other hand, basing their claim upon the results of
certain research, say that the first city was actually
located at its present site, but because of the rising level
of the land, o due to its filling up with alluvial deposits,
it had remained inland and that during this period the
outlet of the city was provided by the port of Naulochos.
other hypothesis is that the city was situated not in the
Maeander valley, but in the northern part of the mountains
of Samsun (Mycale). Furthermore, it is dentified with the
much destroyed city of Melie situated within the ruins of
the fortress visible here. In this case, the city would have
outlets via two ports, one in the north, and the other in
the south (Naulochos).
question of where? and by whom? the city of Priene, one of
the oldest settlements of lonia, was first founded, is open
to debate. The information gathered from ancient sources and
from recent theses differ widely. Nevertheless, to conclude,
it is accepted that Priene was asmall city, that it was
situated on a peninsula close to Miletus and that it had two
The site of this first city could not be determined and no
cocrete findings have been obtained. The only piece found is
the electrum coin discovered in Clazomenae. This coin, with
the head of Athena on it, and which can be dated back to 500
BC, is evidence that priene was attached to the lonian
city which, it is cartein, was linked to the Panionion from
is foundation onward, was, like all lonian cities, attacked
by the Kimmers in the mid 7th century BC, but since this
sack was of a transitory nature, the city recovered in a
the end of the 7th century BC, Priene was captured by the
Lydians and remained for some time under the rule of this
6th century BC was the most prosperous era of Priene , as
for all other lonian cities. In the beginning of this
century. Bias, one of the "Seven Sages" was born
in Priene, and he put into order the laws of this city. This
brilliant era ended in 545 BC when Mazares, the commander of
the Persian king Cyrus, attacked the city, burnt it down
completely and enslaved its people. After a difficult
period, Priene participated in the lonian revolt against the
Persians started in 500 BC and joined the Battle of Lade
with 12 ships. However, as a result of the Persians
completely destroying the lonian fleet, the city was sacked
again. The Persian fleet, defated after its attacked on
Athens, had to retreat and take refuge in the bay in front
of Mycale, whereupon the Spartans attacked and burnt the
whole Persian fleet (479 BC). The "Attic - Delian Sea
League" was founded immediately following upon this
battle and victory, and Priene joined it in 450 BC. In 442
BC the Samos - Priene war came to an end throught the
mediation of this league.
to the mid - 4th century, the city, thought at times under
the influence of Athens, was more under the domination of
the death of Mausolus (353 BC) the Persian satrapies came
under the rule of Athens, According to findings and remains,
the refounding of the city of Priene coincides with this
the Hellenistic period, which began with the victory of
Alexander the Great over the Persians and his capturing of
Anatolia, all lonian cities showed great prosperity.
Alexander the Great gave the cities autonomy and abolished
the excessive taxes paid to the Persians.
is known that when Alexander besieged Miletus and the city
resisted, he came to Priene and stayed there for some time
(see The House of Alexander) and the made a donation to the
Temple of Athena.
the death of Alexander the Great, his commander Lysimachus
(287 BC) came into power. Lysimachus acted as mediator
between Samos and Priene to solve the misunder - standing
about borders that had been going on for a long time. He
reconciliated the two parties and gave Dryussa (north of
Mycale) to Priene (283 - 82 BC). This misunderstanding which
began with the foundation of the city was caused by the
fertile land which lay to the north of Mycale, on which
Samos was making continual attacks to gain posession.
the Hellenistic period, the city came under the rule of the
Ptolemaic and Seleucid Kingdoms and the Kingdom of Pergamum.
Orophernes who had spent his childhood in Priene, came to
rule the Kingdom of Cappadocia in 158 BC, but when he was
banished from the throne a short time later, he left the
state treasury to Priene for protection. His brother, King
Ariarathes V of Cappodocia, asked for the treasury to be
given back, but the Prieneans replied that they could only
give it back to the person who had entrusted it to them and
rejected the request, whereupon Ariarathes V and the King of
Pergamum, Attalus II, attacked Priene together and destroyed
the city completely (155 BC). Later in time, the treasury
was given back to Orophernes who, in return for this
kindness, made a considerable donation to the city and
worked hard for its prosperity.
made in 196 and 188 BC were not able to put a stop to the
fight over borders betveen Samos and Priene. In 135 BC,
throught a decree issued by the Senate of Rome, Dryussa was
definitely joined to Priene and the misunderstanding was
the death of King Attalus II of Pergamum in 133 BC, his
lands were attached to Rome in conformity with his will, and
Priene thus came under Roman rule.
the Roman period, Priene went through very difficult days
because of the many wars and especially the attacks of
pirates, and could only achieve a more peaceful period
during the reing of Emperor Augustus.
the Ist century BC, one of the arms of the Maeander river,
flowing out to the sea, provided a connection to the port,
but as time went by, the alluvial mud brought down by the
river caused the sea to move continually away from the city,
and the connection to the port was cut off. This caused
interest in the city to lessen, and Priene gradually began
to be abandoned.
the Byzantine period the city was a bishopric, and findings
prove that, until the fall of the empire, it was still
populated. At the end of this period Priene was completely
AND RESEARCH WORK
site of the remains of the city was first opened to the
world of science in 1673 through a jorney of English
businessmen however, research work undertaken in the 18th
and 19th centuries were more orientated on the Temple of
Athena. Systematic excavation and research work only began
when, in 1894 R Kekule and Karl Humann visited the city and
decided to do archaeological research.
work, begun in 1895 under the supervision of Karl Humann for
the Berlin Museum, was continued after his death under the
supervision of Theodor Weigand. In 1898 excavation was
stopped and sutdies to be prepared for publication were
begun on the city, of which a great part was revealed.
recent years, superficial research work is from time to time
carried out in Priene by the members of the German Institute
of Archaeology in İstanbul.
believed to have been rebulit in 350 BC, lies to the south
west of the area of Söke, within the boundaries of Güllübahçe
village, on the southern slopes of the Mycale mountain. The
city was bounded on the north by the steep stretches of the
Mycale, rising like a fortress, on the south by the Maeander
valley, and on the south - east by the mountains of Latmos
(Beşparmak). It was not a harbour city anymore, and its
outlet to the sea was secured by the port of Naulochos.
states the distance of this new city to the sea as being 7.5
kilometres whereas today this distance is more than 15
is a most beautiful example of ancient town plannig. A
focter especially important to ancient town planners was to
have the whole town facing southward. This enabled the
buildings to be protected from the sun in summer, but to
receive more sun in winter. This implementation can be
observed perfectly in Priene.
city was built in accordance with the "grid
system" developed by architect Hippodamus of Miletus.
side streets, generally 3.5 metres in widht were built in
steps beceuse of the sloping ground, and they largely
impeded carriage transportation.
block (insulae), 47.20 x 35.40 metres in dimension, formed
by main and side streets crossing at rigt angles, generally
contained four houses.
and other buildings open to the public (temples, agorae,
gymnasiums, bouleuterion, etc.) mostly covered the whole of
a block or were continued on a second one, and were situated
in the central part of the town.
city had three gates of which one was in the west, and the
two others in the east. The "East Gate" situated
to the north - east of Theatre Street and which could be
reached by a long, stone - paved ramp, was the main gate of
to the south - east gate named the "Source Gate"
there was a tower with an epigraph on it, the technique of
which provides proof that the tower was built at the same
time as the city.
West Gate opens onto the widest street of Priene.
for the city was provided from the sources at Mycale. It was
brought down by aqueducts to the reservois located to the
north - east of the city, and from there was distributed to
the whole city by baked earthen pipes. Through this
distribution many fountains (Nymphaea) were built in Priene.
Some of these were situated to the south of the Athena
Temple, at the eastern end of the Sacred Stoa, and in the
southeastern corner of the theatre.
CITY WALLS - THE ACROPOLIS
wals surrounding Priene were 2 metres wide and 6 metres
high. The front and rear faces of the wals were built of
squared stone blocks while the space in between was filled
up with rubble and mud. This construction technique, called
"emplekton" is characteristic of the Hellenistic
period. The watch towers were built in two storeys and apart
from the wals. Thus, if the towers were destroyed they could
be rebuilt without any harm coming to the wals. The wals
between the towers were usually masoned in the shape of
sawteeth in Troy.
Acropolis, located on a very steep mass of rock in the rear
part (north) of the city, was also surrounded by wals and
watch towers. The connection between the Acropolis and the
city walls was severed here, since there was no need for it
on this streep hillside.
the Byzantine period the walls were repaired and made more
solid with some additions. During this period, the citadel
in the Acropolis was given special attention and it was
enlarged towards the north. The connection between the city
and the Acropolis was provided by steps cut into the rocks.
knowledge of the Priene necropolis is extremely small,
however certain findings seem to indicate that the
necropolis was situated to the east of the city.