Northwest steps, from SE, Priene, Bouleuterion

Detail of molding on NE corner of altar base, from SW, Priene, Bouleuterion

North and E seats, from S, Priene, Bouleuterion

Detail of altar, from SW, Priene, Bouleuterion

E seats and center of building, from NW, Priene, Bouleuterion

Central section of Bouleuterion, from SW, Priene, Bouleuterion

Context: Priene
Type: Bouleuterion
Summary: Bouleuterion or meeting hall in center of city, next to the Prytaneion; oriented to the south.
Date: ca. 200 BC

Length of south side 20.25 m.; length of west side 21.06 m.; length of east side 21.18 m. Span of roof (1st building phase): ca. 14.50 m.; roof span in second building phase: 10.65 m. Height of seats 0.37 - 0.39 m.; depth of seats 0.27 m.

Region: Ionia
Period: Hellenistic


Almost square in plan, the bouleuterion contains rows of seats on its west, north and east sides: 16 rows on the north, and ten each on the west and east. The south wall contains a rectangular niche or exedra with arched roof. Stepped aisles lead diagonally up to the rows of seats from the central floor area, or "orchestra," in which stands a marble altar. Regularly-spaced piers, six on each of the north, west and east sides, would have supported the wooden roof. The building was entered through doorways in the north, west, and south walls.

Date Description:

Relationship to adjacent North Stoa (ca. 150 B.C.): the rear wall of the stoa effectively blocks the light which would have entered through the arcuated niche in the south wall, and therefore the bouleuterion must be earlier than the stoa. The style of the profile carving at the base of the altar - lotus and palmettes - dates to the second century B.C.


Construction of the bouleuterion began in ca. 200 B.C. During a later phase of reconstruction, the span of the roof was judged to be too wide, and the piers were accordingly brought closer to the center. Buttresses were also added between the piers and the side walls. The building was destroyed - probably by fire - at some time during the Christian period; beyond the north-west corner of the bouleuterion, a small chapel was built, and traces of Christian burials were discovered near the north wall.

Other Notes:

The bouleuterion provided seating for 600-700 people, a large number considering the population of Priene. Thus it may have been an Ekklesiasterion, or meeting hall for the Assembly of citizens, rather than a bouleuterion or meeting hall for council members alone. The exedra in the south wall, with its arcuated lintel, also served as a light well for the bouleuterion; it is uncertain whether additional windows existed higher in the walls.

Other Bibliography:

Wiegand & Schrader 1904, 219-231, figs. 209-223, pl. XV; Schede 1964, 62-67, figs. 75-80;Dinsmoor 1975, 295-296, fig. 108;Lawrence 1983, 352-355, figs. 348-350; Koenigs 1983, 174, pl. 43.1.