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SMYRNA (Izmir) Turkey.

The early Hellenic settlement lay on a small peninsula, inhabited since the beginning of the 3d millennium B.C., on the NE coast of the gulf of Smyrna. This site is now a hill E of the town of Bayrakli, 4 km N of Izmir. Strabo (14.646) reported that it lay 20 stadia from the city of his time, on a bay beyond it, and gave the exact location.

The earliest Protogeometric pottery found in abundance at Bayrakli reveals that the first Hellenic settlement was founded in the 10th or even the 11th c. B.C., confirming the traditions (Eusebios, Eratosthenes, pseudo-Herodoteian Life of Homeros), which place the Aiolian and Ionian migration relatively soon after the collapse of the Mycenaean civilization. The Protogeometric pottery of Bayrakli is closely related to that of Athens, but it is also individual and probably of local manufacture. Geometric pottery (ca. 825-675 B.C.), in each of its three phases, also shows some Attic influence and relationship with neighboring E Greek centers, but is likewise of local origin.

The oldest building of the Hellenic settlement is an oval house consisting of a single room built ca. 900 B.C.; its wonderfully preserved courses of mudbrick and intact ground plan present the best available example of early Greek building, and in fact is the oldest one in existence. In the 9th c. rectangular houses appear: these likewise consist of a single large room but have stone foundations. Three well-preserved examples have been uncovered. In the next level, from before the middle of the 8th c. to the mid 7th, the oval house is dominant and rectangular ones rarely appear.

The earliest Greek defensive system dates back at least to the 9th c. Originally a deep core with thicknesses of mudbrick and stone packing in some places, and a facing of stout, irregular masonry, it was restored or enlarged more than once down to the late 7th c.

The early Hellenic stratum (1050-650 B.C.) reveals a simple existence based mainly on agriculture. There are no cultural artifacts except pottery, no sign of imports from the E, and of course no evidence of writing. The settlers, however, kept alive the custom of singing tales of their ancestors' achievements; they must have preserved as an oral tradition the song of the deeds of Achilles and Agamemnon, and the tales of the Achaean heroes who preceded them in colonization. Thus emerged the Homeric epos, composed in both Aiolian and Ionian dialects. Smyrna, on the border of Aiolis and Ionia, was probably the actual birthplace of Homer and the Iliad, in the second half of the 8th c. B.C.

The city enjoyed its greatest prosperity between 650 and 545 B.C. The houses of this period are of the megaron type, consisting of a porch and two rooms; in one example two megara were coupled to form a relatively elaborate house type, composed of a porch, three rooms, and one courtyard, and some houses had terracotta bathtubs. The houses were always oriented N-S or W-E, indicating some axial planning as early as the 7th c.

The well-preserved temenos terrace of the temple, with walls of carefully fitted polygonal and rectagonal masonry, is now entirely uncovered. The first monumental structure of the sanctuary dates from the third quarter of the 7th c.; it was destroyed by Alyattes (Hdt. 1.16; 14.646) about 600 B.C., rebuilt and its temenos enlarged about 580, and completely ruined by the Persians about 545 B.C. The temple in its last phase, with its carved Proto-Aiolic capitals, was the earliest monumental sanctuary of the E Greek world; it was dedicated to Athena, according to the inscription on a small bronze bar recently excavated.

The houses have yielded bird bowls, charming examples of vases in the wild goat style, and statuettes in bronze, ivory, and terracotta. Fragments of delicately carved stone statues date from about 600 B.C. The abundance of Cypriote and Syrian statuettes and of Lydian pottery demonstrates the international trade developed by the Ionians after the middle of the 7th c. After 580 Attic imports provided models for the new style of E Greek black-figured vase painting.

The city was insignificant during the 5th-4th c.; the houses were of the long type and still arranged on an axial plan. In the time of Alexander the Great, however, the population outgrew the peninsula, and a new, larger city was founded on the slope of Mt. Pagos. Coins of Marcus Aurelius, Gordianus, and Philippus Arabus, show Alexander sleeping under the plane tree, on Mt. Pagos, and the two Nemeses who directed him in a dream to build a city here.

Strabo (14.646) described Smyrna as the finest Ionian city of his time, the turn of the 1st c. B.C. The city was centered around the harbor, on flat land where the Temple of the Mother Goddess and the gymnasium also stood. The streets were straight and paved with large stones. The orator Aelius Aristeides, who came from Smyrna, also mentions the straightness and the paving, and states that the two main thoroughfares, the Sacred Way and the Golden Road, ran E-W, so that the wind from the sea cooled the city. Some years ago an ancient road was unearthed, running E-W. It was well paved, 10 m wide, and had a roofed-over pavement for pedestrians along the side near the mountain; possibly it is part of the Sacred Way. Strabo also mentioned a stoa called the Homereion (probably in the shape of a peristyle house).

Nothing remains of the theater on the NW slope of Mt. Pagos, or of the stadium on the W. A silo built by Hadrian once stood near the harbor, indicating that the commercial agora lay close to the docks, but it has not been located. On the other hand, the state agora is well preserved: a courtyard 120 by at least 80 m, with stoas on the E and W sides (excavated for 35 and 72 m respectively). These stoas were 17.5 m wide and had two stories, each of which was divided into three, longitudinally, by two rows of columns. On the N side a similar two-storied colonnade consisted of a nave and two aisles, 28 m wide. The main stoa of the agora was called a basilica. There is also a magnificent vaulted basement beneath the N colonnade, still in splendid condition. The N aisle in the basement was composed of shops, which must have opened onto a street in Roman times. Court cases were heard in an exedra in the W part of the N colonnade. The stoa on the S side, not yet excavated, must also have had two stories with a nave and two aisles.

After an earthquake in A.D. 178 the city was reconstructed with help from Marcus Aurelius. This is confirmed by a portrait of his wife, Faustina II, still visible over an arch of the W colonnade, which must have been restored shortly after the earthquake. Stylistic considerations probably date construction of the N stoa to the end of the 2d c. A.D.

Aelius Aristeides relates that ca. 150 B.C. an altar to Zeus occupied a central position in the agora. Two high reliefs depicting a large group of gods, possibly connected with the altar, have been uncovered, on which Demeter is shown standing next to Poseidon. It may well be that placing these deities side by side was intended to demonstrate that Smyrna at that time dominated commerce by both land and sea.


Bürchner, RE III A 734ff; F. Miltner, WJh (1931) Beibl. 127-88; C. J. Cadoux, Ancient Smyrna (1938); E. Akurgal, “Smyrna à l'époque archaïque et classique,” Belleten 37 (1946) 72-80; id., Bayrakli (1949); id., Die Kunst Anatoliens (1961) 8-16, 178-88, 282-84; id., AJA 66 (1962) 369-79; id., Ancient Civilizations and Ruins of Turkey (1970) 119-24; J. Cook, “Old Smyrna,” BSA 53-54 (1958-59); id., “Greek Settlement in the Eastern Aegean and Asia Minor,” CAH (1961); id., The Greeks in Ionia and the East (1962) 1-35; id., “Ionic Black-figure,” BSA 60 (1965) 114-53; R. V. Nicholls, “Fortifications,” ibid. 53-54 (1958-59) 36-137; J. K. Anderson, “The Corinthian Pottery,” ibid. 138-51; J. Boardman, “The Attic Pottery,” ibid. 152-81; L. H. Jeffery, “Inscriptions,” ibid. 59 (1964) 39-49.


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