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HALIKARNASSOS (Bodrum) Turkey.

City in Caria on the N coast of the gulf of Kos. Originally one of the three mainland members of the Dorian hexapolis, founded according to tradition by Anthes or one of his descendants from Troezen. Later the city was expelled from the hexapolis, ostensibly because of the misconduct of her citizen Agasikles, who took home the tripod he had won at the Triopian games instead of dedicating it on the spot to Apollo (Hdt. 1.144). Strabo (653) observes that after the death of Kodros, king of Athens, Knidos and Halikarnassos were not yet in existence, though Rhodes and Kos were. By the 5th c. the city had become wholly Ionian; the inscriptions are in Ionic, and Herodotos and Panyassis wrote in that dialect. At the same time there was a strong Carian element in the city; the citizens' names are equally divided between Greek and Carian, and the two are often mixed in the same families. Vitruvius (2.8.12) records a tradition that the Carians, driven to the hills by the Greek settlers, were later attracted down to the city by the excellence of the water of Salmakis, a suburb where a Greek had set up a tavern, and so became civilized.

After the Persian conquest in the 6th c. Halikarnassos was ruled by a Carian dynasty, represented at the time of Xerxes' invasion of Greece by the queen Artemisia, who joined his forces in person and was regarded by him as one of the wisest of his advisers (Hdt. 8.68-69, 101-3). She took part in the battle of Salamis in her own ship (Hdt. 8.87-88). In the Delian Confederacy Halikarnassos was assessed at one and two-thirds talents, indicating her modest importance in the 5th c. Towards the middle of the century, as an inscription shows (SIG 45), the government was in the hands of the tyrant Lygdamis II, grandson of Artemisia, but the decree was issued at the same time by the Council of the Halikarnassians and Salmakitans, apparently a first step towards a modified democracy. This Lygdamis was subsequently expelled, with the help, it is said, of the historian Herodotos.

Halikarnassos became of real importance when Mausolos, satrap of Caria from 377 to 353, made it the capital of his satrapy in place of Mylasa. The city was rebuilt, with a wall over 4.8 m long, and manned by the forcible transplantation of the inhabitants of six of the eight Lelegian towns on the Myndos peninsula (Strab. 611). The Carian element in the city was in this way considerably strengthened. Mausolos was succeeded by his sister—wife Artemisia II, who built (or at least completed) his tomb, the Mausoleion. When the Rhodians attacked Halikarnassos in an attempt to take Caria, Artemisia defeated them and retaliated by capturing the city of Rhodes (Vitr. 2.8.14-15). On her death in 350 she was followed in quick succession by the other children of Hekatomnos, Idrieus, who married his sister Ada, and Pixodaros, who expelled Ada to Alinda and shared the rule with the official Persian satrap Orontobates.

Halikarnassos was one of the few places which resisted Alexander in 334. After much fierce fighting the defenders set fire to the city and withdrew to the headlands on either side of the harbor. Alexander sacked the city and passed on to Lycia, leaving the task of blockading the headlands to Ada, with whom he had previously had friendly dealings. When they surrendered, she was appointed ruler of the whole of Caria (Arr. 1.20-23; Diod. 17.24-27). Pliny (HN 5.107) states that Alexander incorporated six towns in Halikarnassos; their names are those of the neighboring Lelegian towns. This however seems to be a confusion with the Mausolean synoecism.

After Alexander's death the city came into the possession of the Ptolemies until 190; after Magnesia she was left as a free city, and seems to have remained so thereafter. Plundered by Verres in 80 B.C., restored by Quintus Cicero in 60, plundered again by Brutus and Cassius, the city prospered less than most under the Empire; the Imperial coinage is somewhat scanty and the title of neocorus does not appear. Later the bishop of Halikarnassos ranked 21st under the metropolitan of Staurupolis (Aphrodisias).

Distinguished citizens included the historians Herodotus and Dionysios, Herakleitos the epigrammatist, and Phormio the boxer, Olympic victor in 392 B.C. but found guilty of corruption four years later.

The ruins have been almost entirely obliterated by the town of Bodrum, though much of the city wall is still standing; the masonry varies between polygonal and a somewhat irregular ashlar. On the W side two solid towers remain from the tripylon mentioned in Arrian's account of the siege by Alexander; the present road to Myndos passes this point. On the NE, outside this line of wall, is a stretch of exterior wall apparently belonging to an earlier scheme of defense that was soon abandoned; this was probably the wall attacked by Alexander. The Mylasa gate must have been in this region, but has not survived. The acropolis hill, now called Göktepe, rises to a height of 160 m; on its SE slope is the theater, still fairly well preserved in 1815 but now completely denuded, with only a few blocks of the seats remaining. In 1857 the substructures of the Mausoleion and some of the sculptures were discovered; the site was subsequently buried, but recently excavation has begun again. Apparently the peribolos and associated buildings were never completed. Of the other buildings investigated in the 19th c. virtually nothing remains, though the modern town is full of ancient stones, many of them sculptured or inscribed. Tombs are mostly rock-cut chambers; these are numerous on the slopes of Göktepe, frequently arranged in groups.

Vitruvius gave a picture of the city in antiquity in the passage already cited. He compared it to the cavea of a theater, with the agora by the harbor representing the orchestra, and a wide street running across halfway up, like a diazoma; at the middle point of this was the Mausoleion. On the summit of the acropolis was a shrine of Ares with a colossal statue, on the right horn, by the fountain of Salmakis, a temple of Aphrodite and Hermes, and on the left horn the palace of Mausolos. From this palace there was a view to the right over the agora, harbor, and wall circuit, while below it on the left, “hiding under the hills,” was a secret harbor, to which the king could issue commands from the palace without anyone being aware of it.

Apart from the Mausoleion, no building mentioned in this passage has been located. The shrine of Ares (fanum, which need not have been a full-scale temple) should be on the summit of Göktepe, where there is nothing now but an oblong platform. Salmakis is placed with near certainty on Arsenal Point on the W side of the harbor. The fountain is now under water; fresh water rises in the harbor a short distance off the point, but there is no sign of the temple. The street and agora have long since been obliterated, and no trace of the palace has been found on or near the headland (originally called Zephyrion) which forms the E horn of the harbor and now carries the castle of the Knights of St. John. The smaller secret harbor played a part in Artemisia's defeat of the Rhodians; hiding her ships in it, she led them by a canal (fossa facta) into the main harbor to seize the Rhodian ships. This canal is apparently the river referred to by Pseudo-Skylax (98); there is no river, or even stream, at or near Bodrum. The position of this second harbor is a puzzle. “Under the hills” is in any case unintelligible, and sub montibus has been emended to sub moenibus, but even so no secret harbor is discoverable in the region of the castle headland. There is a line of submerged wall on the E side of the main harbor which has been attributed to it, but a situation actually inside the harbor is obviously inappropriate. It seems that the secret harbor must be merely the open roadstead on the E side of the headland, with a canal across the isthmus to the main harbor. Mausolos' palace would then have stood on the landward side of the isthmus; looking S, the main harbor would be on the right and the second harbor on the left.

The territory of Halikarnassos adjoined that of the independent cities of Myndos on the W and Theangela on the E, but the exact boundaries are not determinable.

The great castle of the Knights of St. John was built in the 15th c., largely of materials taken from the Mausoleion and other ancient buildings; much of the stone came from quarries still to be seen at Koyunbaba a few miles N of Myndos. The castle houses three small museums containing objects from the surrounding countryside, including some from recent underwater explorations.


W. J. Hamilton, Travels in Asia Minor (1842) 32ff; C. T. Newton, A History of Discoveries at Halicarnassus, Cnidus and Branchidae (1863)MI; id., Travels and Discoveries in the Levant (1865); L. Ross, Reisen auf den griechischen Inseln IV (1852) 33-39; G. E. Bean & J. M. Cook, BSA 50 (1955) 85-171MI; Bean, Turkey beyond the Maeander (1971) 101-14. Mausoleion: W. B. Dinsmoor, Architecture of Ancient Greece (1950) 257-61.


hide References (5 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (5):
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 17.24
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.144
    • Herodotus, Histories, 8.68
    • Herodotus, Histories, 8.87
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 5.29
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