|S a n c t u a r y o
f A t h e n a P o l i a s
a t N o t i u m
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The Sanctuary of Athena Polias at Notium
Throughout the course of the Peloponnesian Wars - the wars between the Hellenes in 431-404 BCE, Notium played a significant role, serving as naval base for the Athenians.
The Spartan admiral, Lysander, built (407 BCE) a fleet with Persian aid and won a naval battle off Notium, and Alcibiades was driven from Athens.
But now the news of the late disaster at Notium had reached the Athenians at home, and in their indignation they turned upon Alcibiades, to whose negligence and lack of self-command they attributed the destruction of the ships. Accordingly they chose ten new generals--namely Conon, Diomedon, Leon, Pericles, Erasinides, Aristocrates, Archestratus, Protomachus, Thrasylus, and Aristogenes.
The numerous wars between the Spartans and the Athenians were fought to colonize the coastal towns of Anatolia and ended with the defeat of the Athenians.
The harbor of Notium was considered an alternative to the harbor of Ephesus but did not became so popular as Ephesus.
In 334 BCE, the city was invaded by Alexander the Great. Following his death, Lysimachus punished Colophon for its support of Antigonus in the post-Alexandrian civil wars by semi-depopulating it in 302 BCE. He deported most of the inhabitants to Ephesus and Lebedus. Part of the remaining population emigrated to Notium, which hence forth was called Neo Colophon, "New Colophon" or else "Colophon-by-the-Sea".
In Roman times, the city entered upon a new era of prosperity both in commerce and social life. Temples, agoras, and bouleuterions, buildings housing social activities were built throughout the period. Towards the end of the Roman era, the harbor of Notium lost its prior importance as the Caystrus River sediments gradually silted the harbor.
The Archeological Excavations
The excavations of the city theater and the northern necropolis was started by a team under the supervision of Prof. E. Atalay in the years 1985-86, but canceled by the sudden death of Prof. E. Atalay.
In 1992, a project - also supported by the Ministry of Culture of Turkey, the Grand Circle Foundation (USA) and the Ludwig Institute of Monument Research (Vienna-Austria), was started in order to remove the thick cover of vegetation that had caused great damage to the remains of the city and to explore Notium.
Notium (New Colophon)
The city is surrounded by a 4 km long Hellenistic city wall. Today, most of the city wall - giving a clear idea of the plan of the city, has been revealed. It was built of regular square blocks and fortified with square towers; Roman mortar repair work can be observed on some of the faces.
Two gates to the city are still visible: one on the west, the other on the north. The north gate was used for trade. Other gates must have existed, however. There was also an entrance with steps at the south-eastern end.
In the center of the city, overlooking the splendid view to the Temple of Apollo at Clarus, many structures have been revealed - the Temple of Athena, primarily.
The ruins themselves are poorly preserved, but there is a magnificent view from the top of the acropolis to Samos in the south, Kusadasi in the south-east and to Ephesus.
The Temple of Athena
The frieze was adorned with garlands made from sprays of bay leaves which supported the heads of bulls.
The Temple was consecrated to Athena Polias (Athena of the City) and was built in the 2nd century, in the reign of Hadrian.
To the east of the Temple can be seen the remains of the foundations of an Altar measuring 5.30 x 7.72m.
The Temple and the Altar were surrounded on all four sides by stoas (porticoes with colonnades) of the Doric order. The exterior dimensions of the temenus (enclosure), including the stoas, were 17.10 x 38.15m. Shops were arranged along the outer faces of the stoas on the east, west and south.
The non-axial arrangement of the stoas, the Temple and the temenus is reminiscent of the plan of the temenus of Athena at Pergamum. This arrangement, which was contrary to what was usual in Roman art, perhaps arose from the fact that the citizens of Notium in the Roman period wished to conform to the traditional style in which the aforementioned buildings of the Hellenistic period were built.
The remains of a small Temple are to be found to the north-east of the Sanctuary of Athena, but it is not known to which God the Temple was dedicated.
There were originally two agoras (market places) on the acropolis: one centrally placed, the other to the east; however, neither of these has yielded any well-preserved remains.
Close by the east side of the agora, which lies in the middle of the acropolis, are the ruins of a bouleuterion.
In recent years, a restoration project to preserve the ruins of the Temple of Athena, has been planned.
The theater, is one of the relatively well-preserved structures of the city with a seating capacity of approximately 6000 and 27 rows of seats.
Athena and Arachne
Arachne was a weaver who acquired such skill in her art that she ventured to challenge Athena. The Goddess wove a tapestry depicting the Gods in majesty, while that of Arachne showed their amorous adventures. Angered in the first place by the challenge, and then by the choice of subject, Athena tore it to pieces, and in despair Arachne hanged herself. But the Goddess out of pity loosened the rope, which became a cobweb; Arachne herself was changed into a spider, whence the name of the zoological class to which spiders belong, Arachnida.
Read the full story here.
If you have your own vehicle, at the roundabout where the roads from Kusadasi, Pamucak and Selcuk meet, continue straight toward Seferihisar; the highway ahead has been widened and surfaced. After 25km there's a poorly marked junction, with a sign pointing inland to Ahmetbeyli and Menderes. This is a recognized stop for buses; in your own vehicle bear seawards and park behind the excellent 600-meter beach.
The Kusadasi-Seferihisar minibuses, departing every 30 minutes, pass through Ahmetbeyli village which is close to the ancient site.
Located on the top of the hill of Ahmetbeyli Beach, the city covers an area of 500x1000 meters on two adjoining hills to the east of the beach.
Here you can also enjoy a good fish dinner or a swim at the town's wide beach.
Copyright ©1998-2003 Roy George