First settled: by the Greek colonists in the
11th century BC
Open: 8am- 7pm daily
8am- 5pm daily (winter)
Description of Priene Archeological Site
The settlement is spread on the slopes of
a mountain. Upper part of Priene is known as an Acropolis.
Most of residents lived in the Lower City below. Priene layout
is a perfect plan of straight streets that run in the North-
South as well as East West direction. Most important sites of
the city include ancient amphitheater that used by ancient
residents for play performances, religious ceremonies and
discussions. Central Plaza of Priene was the heart of
political, commercial and spiritual life of the city. You can
find temple of Zeus (main Greek god) as well as a magnificent
temple of Athena, goddess of Wisdom and daughter of Zeus.
According to Greek pagan religion she was born without
conception and unlike other gods and goddesses of the ancient
pantheon she emerged from the head of her father. Judging by the
size of the complex the cult of Athena was the central in the
lives of Priene's residents. Archeologists also discovered
presence of other religions in this cosmopolitan and vibrant
city. One of the sanctuaries was devoted to Egyptian gods.
Additionally there was a small Jewish community that once lived
in Priene. They constructed small synagogue as a cultural and social
center for its diaspora.
of Priene Archaeological
first settled by the Greek colonists in the 11th century BC.
There have been much speculation on the origin of the name, but
it is probably has pre- Greek origin. The origin of the first
settlers have also been hotly debated by historians. Some claim
that it was settled by Athenians under leadership of Aegyptus,
other claim it was established by the Greeks from Thebes under
leadership of Philotas. While others site some Greek sources
that claim that Priene was actually found by the Amazon queens.
These fierce women- warriors have been a subject of many Greek
myths. Whatever might the true story, Priene grew around
Samsun Mountain also known as Mikale. Today the city is
surrounded by open plans and hills, but in the ancient times it
actually stood on the shores of the Aegean Sea that was source
for food as well as a means of transportation. Over centuries
river Maeander that you still can see flowing past abandoned
ruins silted the harbor, making it unusable.
the 7th century BC Priene was sacked and badly damaged by the armies
of Ardys of Lydia, but it quickly regained its previous
importance and role in the region. Being part of the Ionian
League its residents attempted to preserve its independence
despite increased presence of other great powers in the region.
Finally they succumbed to armies of Persian king Cyrus around
540 BC. However shortly thereafter Priene rebelled against its
masters on several separate occasions. The largest was
undertaken in 499- 494 BC. It was finally conquered by Alexander
the Great during his conquest of the Persian Empire. Great
Greek/ Macedonian general ordered construction of the new temple
in 334 BC that was dedicated to Athena Polias.
In 129 BC Priene became part of the Roman Republic and part of
the province of Asia Minor. During war with King of Pontus,
Mithridates, his armies managed to capture the city steal
everything they could carry away with them. After establishment
of the Empire the city started to venerating the cult of the
living god Emperor Octavian Augustus. It was performed in the
Sacred Stoa as well as Temple of Athena. After Christianity
became the dominant and official religion of the country Priene
became seat of the bishop as a sign of its size and importance.
Two of them even travelled to the Byzantine Councils to discuss
matters of the church life and theology. This includes bishop
Theosebios who was present at the Council of Ephesus in 431 and
Paul who travelled to the capital of the Byzantine Empire
Constantinople in 692 for another council. Priene went into
decline in the early Medieval times. Receding sea made its
existence harder and more expensive. By the time Turkish
Ottomans captured Priene in the 13th century it was a mere
ghost of itself. Soon Priene was abandoned and re- discovered only
in the 19th century.
Theatre or Amphitheatre (Priene
Theatre or Amphitheatre held a special place in Ancient Greek Society.
It was site where plays were performed for the citizens. Additionally it
could hold enough spectators who could witness religious rituals that
were held here on important and special occasions. Priene residence
could also father for discussion of philosophical questions, political
disputes and other subjects. Basically it was a form of social media
minus the anonymity.
The Bouleuterion (Priene
The Bouleuterion is a Priene site of official gathering of Boulea or city
Council that discussed important matters of the states as well as made
decisions about life of Priene and its residents.
Temple of Athena Polias (Priene
of Athena Polias was constructed in Priene in 334 BC on the orders of Alexander