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Temple of Athena (Assos)

Assos (Greek: Άσσος), also known as Behramkale or for short Behram, is a small historically rich town in Çanakkale Province, Turkey. Aristotle lived here and opened an Academy. The city was also visited by St. Paul. Today Assos is a Aegean-coast seaside retreat amid ancient ruins

Though officially named Behramkale (pronounced [beh'ramkale]), most people still call the town by its ancient name of Assos. The town is on the Biga Peninsula, although the peninsula is known by its ancient name, Troad. The town itself is on the Adramyttian Gulf (Turkish: Edremit Körfezi).[1]

 

It is possible to see much of the surrounding area from the top of a Trachyte Crag. From this temple, it was possible to see Lesbos in the south, Pergamum in the southeast, and Mount Ida of Phrygia in the east. To the north, the Tuzla River flows. To the northwest, there is the gate to the city of two massive Hellenic columns that still exist today.[1]

 

Assos had a harbor, which was the only good harbor on the 80 kilometres (50 miles) of the north coast of the Adramyttian Gulf. This made Assos a key shipping station through the Troad.

The city was founded from 900-1000 BC by Aeolian colonists from Lesbos, who specifically are said to have come from Methymna. The settlers built a Doric Temple to Athena on top of the crag in 530 BC.[2] From this temple Hermias of Atarneus, a student of Plato, ruled Assos, the Troad and Lesbos for a period of time, under which the city experienced its greatest prosperity. (Strangely, Hermias was actually the slave of the ruler of Atarneus.[1]) Under his rule, he encouraged philosophers to move to the city. As part of this, in 348 BC Aristotle came here and married King Hermeias's niece, Pythia, before leaving to Lesbos three years later in 345 BC. This 'golden period' of Assos ended several years later when the Persians arrived, and subsequently tortured Hermias to death. [2]

 

The Persians were driven out by Alexander the Great in 334 BC. Between 241 and 133 BC, the city was ruled by the Kings of Pergamon. However, in 133 BC, the Pergamons lost control of the city as it was absorbed by the Roman empire.[1]

 

St. Paul also visited the city during his third missionary journey through Asia Minor, which was between 53-57 AD, on his way to Lesbos. From this period onwards, Assos shrunk to a small village, as it has remained ever since. Ruins around Assos continue to be excavated.[2]

 

The pillars from the ancient port lay in the harbor for over a millennia. Eventually they were probably sold.

 

In the early 1900s an attempt was made to move the contents of the Temple of Athena. Much of the art has been moved to museums like the Louvre.[1] The art found includes pictures both of mythical creatures and heraldic events.

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Taken on October 20, 2009