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the Panionian, the centre of politics and religion, was situated on
Prienian soil, the city was one of the earliest Ionian settlements. The
first city was probably a peninsula with two harbours. It participated
in the battle of Lade in 495. According to tradition Bias, considered
to be one of seven world famous philosophers and wise men lived here in
the 6th century B.C..
In 350 B.C. the new city of Priene was founded on its present site, was much nearer sea than now and had a port Naulochos. Priene never played an important role in politics, at first it was subject to the influence of Athens, then it passed to the kingdom of Pergamon and finally to Rome in about 2nd century B.C.. Nevertheless the works of art of the 4th century and the Hellenistic era recovered here are among the foremost creations of Greek art.
Priene is built on the Hippodamian system, a grid pattern, and is the oldest and finest example of this type to be found among the Hellenistic cities. The atmosphere of the town as it was in antiquity still lingers in the well preserved streets lined with buildings. The city faces south, roads running east-west, and the side streets rising in steps, run north-south. The blocks these roads created were precise in dimensions 47.2 x 35.4m and in general each block had four houses, although public buildings were often a multiple of these blocks. The town was supplied with water from the mountains via an aqueduct which enetered from the north east into three standing pools befor being distributed throughout the city by earthenware pipes. Water flowed from fountains at many points in the city (see photograph below). The city was enclosed by a stong wall with outstanding rustica masonry, buily entirely of local marble (see below).
|Temple of Athena|
|The temple of Athena was built by Pytheos, the architect responsible for the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, considered to be one of the ancient wonders of the world. The Athena temple became the classic model for Ionic architecture. According to Vitruvius Pytheos published a book dealing with his principles of architectural designs.|
|The temple was a peripteros with 11 columns on long side and 6 on the short sides. It was almost 30m in length and 50feet high, each column rising 43feet. It was constructed with local Mykale marble. The ornamented sections were painted red and blue. The construction of the eatsren part was started in middle of 4th century B.C. and was completed by Alexander the Great. The western half was not started until middle of 2nd century B.C.. The only part of the temple altar remaining is the foundations.|
|The temple terrace, faced in massive rustica masonry is at one of the highest parts of the site and can be reached from the stoa by steps.|
|Built in the 3rd century B.C., this formed the centre of the city. Like all market places in Greek cities this was an open space where public meetings were held, festivals celebrated and business conducted. An altar dedicated to Hermes occupied a central position in the square. Stoas were built on three sides. The main thoroughfare passed along the northern side. The stoas were Doric in style. The area in front of the stoas were filled with memorial staues. Bronze figures next to marble satues painted in bright colours and the surrounding buildings in vivid blues and reds would have created a very exotic atmosphere compare to modern tastes.|
|On the west
were a row of shops and shops were also in the eastern and western
sections of the south stoa. There was a seperate market-place for
In the second period of prosperity in Priene, late 2nd century B.C. the agora was surrounded by new buildings of impressive size. Of these the main one was the large colonnade, or Sacred Stoa. It is 116m long, built by King Ariarathes of Cappadocia, and is raised along its length by six steps. At the top of the steps is a 6.5m promenade paved with marble and open to the sky. The Sacred Stoa was 12m deep with 49 Doric columns along its facade.
|One of the best preserved buildings in Priene. Off the Agora at the eatern end, on the side street that leads to the Athena temple. This was a hall with an altar in the middle with steps, used as seats, rising parallel to the walls on three sides. It could seat 640 people. The hall was roofed with a wooden structure, supported by rows of pillars on each side as the original span of 14.5m was too large. There were probably windows in the upper walls on each side. This was probably a meeting place for the senate, ie a bouleuterion not an ekklesiasterion, or people's parliament. It would have been too small for the latter. The building adjacent to the east is the Prytaneion where the executive committee of the bouleuterion would have carried out their daily duties.|
|This theatre is one of the principle sites not only of the Hellenistic period in Priene but also throughout antiquity. The building still retains most of its Hellenistic features. It served as both a theatre, for cultural activity, and as a people's parliament, the ekklesia. This fact is indicated by the presence of a water clock, the base of which can still be seen. The theatre was probably 50 rows deep and would have held 5000 people being accessed by 6 steep narrow stairways. The orchestra was floored with beaten earth and there was an altar in the middle of the prohedria, which was in the horse shoe-shaped curve of comfortable seats reserved for people of rank.|
every theatre altar in antiquity, this was scared to Dionysus and
performances would have started with sacrificial rites. The armchairs
presented by A man called Nysios, and the altar presented by Pythotimos,were built in 2nd century B.C.. The water clock pedestal below has hollows on top to allow water to flow in and out.
The preskenion is very well preserved. It consists of a colonnade supporting an architrave, built in 2nd century B.C.. Performances at this stage were given in the orchestra, although some may have been on the roof of the preskenion. Howvere later all would have been on the roof of the preskenion and at this point another row of 'best seat' five rows up were constructed to give an eye level view of the stage. The skene itself was a two tiered structure only the lower story of which remains.
|This byzantine basilica was a nave flanked by two aisles. The entrance vestibule had two doors. the pulpit still stands in the nave but only the foundations of the alter have survived.|
majority are now overgrown but they still create an atmosphere of
bygone days. Many are built of well cut stone with high rooms. The
remains of stairs suggest many were two storied. The walls of some of
the houses are plasterd with stucco so the lower part looks like
marble. There were windows with shutters of baked clay pierced
with six arch shaped holes. The roofs were tiled. The finest, largest
and best preserved house is by the road on which the theatre is
situated behind the Athena temple.
|This contained 26 rooms and it was thought to have belonged to a man of means. An
altar dedicated to Zeus Olympios stands in the house and indicates the
owner was probably a stephanephoros, the wearer of the wreath, who
was in charge
of all sacrificial processions for a year, the cost of all these
festivals would come from his own pocket. The netrance was in the
centre of the front and entered into a small courtyard. It seems to
have been divided into men's and women's quarters., bothnperistyle
At the western end of the main thouroughfare is what is known as Alexander's House, reputedly where he stayed during his siege of Miletus in 334 B.C. . It subsequently may have become a shrine to him. There is not an awful lot to see besides the lower parts of the walls.
|Street fountain||Rustica masonry of city walls|