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ASSOS 

THE ANCIENT GREEK CITY in ASIA MINOR

''THE CITY OF THE ACADEMY OF ARISTOTLE''

The ancent Ionian City ''ASSOS' which is also known as Behramkale (in Turkish) or for short Behram, is a small historically rich town in the Ayvacık district of the Çanakkale Province, Turkey. During Pliny the Elder's time (1st century CE), the city also bore the name Apollonia.

Today, Assos is an Aegean-coast seaside retreat amid ancient ruins. Since 2017 it is inscribed in the Tentative list of World Heritage Sites in Turkey.

Though the town is officially named Behramkale , most people still call it by its ancient name of Assos. The town is on the southern side of Biga Peninsula, better known by its ancient name, Troad. Assos is located on the coast of the Adramyttian Gulf.

Much of the surrounding area is visible from the ancient Temple of Athena, built on top of a trachyte crag. The view from this temple on a clear day extends to nearby Lesbos in the south, Pergamum in the southeast, and Mount Ida in Phrygia in the east. To the north, the Tuzla River flows. To the northwest, two massive Hellenic columns still mark the gate to the city.

Assos had the only good harbour on the 80 kilometres (50 mi) of the north coast of the Adramyttian Gulf. This made Assos a key shipping station through the Troad.

Assos from the Gulf

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The city was founded from 1000 to 900 BC by Aeolian colonists from Lesbos, who specifically are said to have come from Methymna. The natural cleavage of the rock into joint planes had already scarped out shelves which it was comparatively easy for human labour to shape. The settlers built a Doric Temple to Athena on top of the crag in 530 BC. 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.  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 for Lesbos three years later in 345 BC. In the Academy of Assos, Aristotle became a chief to a group of philosophers, and together with them, he made innovative observations on zoology and biology. When the Persians attacked Assos, King Hermias was caught and put to death. Aristotle fled to Macedonia, which was ruled by his friend King Philip II of Macedon. There, he tutored Philip's son, Alexander the Great. There is a modern statue of Aristotle at the town entrance.

This 'golden period' of Assos ended several years later when the Persians arrived, and subsequently tortured Hermias to death.

Assos Temple of Athena

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Temple of Athena in Assos, overlooking the Aegean Sea

Banquet_Assos_Louvre_Ma2829.jpg

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Sculpted architrave from the Temple of Athena in Assos (Louvre Museum, Paris)

Assos / Behramkale

Road to 'Behramkale'' Turkish castle and Assos

 
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