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.
) 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.
III A 734ff; F. Miltner,
(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
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.