Assos Ancient City

Assos Ancient City

Assos is an ancient city located on a rocky hill along the coast of the Aegean Sea. The Tuzla River, known as Satnoieis in ancient times, flows to the north of the city. Today, the remains of this ancient settlement are situated in the modern Turkish village and resort town of Behramkale.

Assos was founded in the 1st millennium BCE by settlers from the nearby island of Lesbos, now part of Greece. During the 4th century BCE, the city experienced a period of great prosperity under the rule of Hermeias, a student of Plato, who governed not just the city but the entire Troad peninsula. In 348 BCE, Aristotle came to Assos and founded a school where he taught for three years.

Assos Ancient City

The famous student of Aristotle, Alexander the Great, expelled Persian troops from Assos in 334 BCE. Subsequently, his successors exercised nominal sovereignty over the city. From 241-133 BCE, the Kingdom of Pergamon ruled over Assos. Later on, it was assimilated into the Roman Empire and eventually emerged as a religious center associated with Saint Paul in 55 AD.

According to the Bible, just before his third missionary journey to Jerusalem, Saint Paul walked alone from Alexandria Troas to Assos, accompanied only by the Spirit, in reference to John 14:18 "The Spirit gives life; physical things do not. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their fleshly selves." Once in Assos, he rejoined his colleagues and sailed off towards Lesbos.

Assos, located on the Aegean Sea coast of western Anatolia, is an ancient city with a rich history. It was converted to Christianity in the 5th century AD and was listed as an episcopacy from then until the 14th century. In the Byzantine period, it remained an important provincial city for regional and interregional trade.

The city was called Machram in Byzantine times, and it is believed that the current name of Behramkale was derived from it. The area was conquered by the Turks in the early 14th century, but the harbor remained important until the 18th century for the trade of cortices of Valonea oaks.

To enter the archaeological site, visitors must climb over the hilltop mosque in Behramkale and pay an entrance fee. A walk along the Roman walls and a small cistern leads to the 118 m high acropolis, which houses the foundations of a Doric-order Athena temple (14 x 30 m.) dating back to 530 BCE. Of the original 38 columns, only 6 remain. The acropolis is secured by a 14-m.-high ancient city wall and gate, along with 4th century BCE towers that are still intact.

Past the entrance gate is an ancient paved road that leads to a large gymnasium (52 x 52 m.) from the 2nd century BCE, followed by the ruins of a 5th-6th century church to the northeast. Further down the road, there is another ancient building complete with Hellenistic period shops and two-storey Doric columns.

Next on the lower road is the ancient bouleuterion (21 m x 21 m), and after that is a Greek theatre from the 3rd century BCE that could seat up to 5000 spectators. Outside of the city walls lies a large necropolis containing numerous Greco-Roman tombs dating back as far as 1000 BC.