City in Caria or
Lydia, 30 km E of Aydin. A Seleucid foundation, apparently on the site of an earlier Athymbra, founded according to Strabo (650; cf. Steph. Byz. s.v. Athymbra
) by a Spartan Athymbros, by a synoecism with two other
cities, Athymbrada and Hydrela. The founder was Antiochos I (Steph. Byz. s.v. Antiocheia), who acted in response to a dream and named the city after his wife Nysa (otherwise unknown). A letter of Seleucus and
Antiochos dated 281 B.C. is addressed to the Athymbrianoi, and this name survived to the latter part of the
3d c. (IG
XI, 1235). It seems that the name was changed
from Athymbra to Nysa at some time towards 200 B.C.;
the earliest coins, of the late 2d c., have the latter name.
At Acharaka, on the territory of Nysa, lay the celebrated
Plutonion and the cave Charonion.
Strabo was educated at Nysa, and his description of
the city (649) can be verified in the existing ruins. It is,
he says, a sort of double city, divided by a stream which
forms a ravine; part of this is spanned by a bridge connecting the two cities, and part is adorned with an amphitheater under which the stream flows concealed; below the theater is on one side the gymnasium of the young
men, on the other the agora and the gerontikon. All
these buildings are identifiable, though in some cases
The bridge was a huge platform nearly 100 m long,
spanning the ravine below the theater, but very little is
left of it. Parts of the substructure of the amphitheater
and a few of the seats on either side of the ravine survive
in the scrub. The theater, on the other hand, is well preserved: of Graeco-Roman type, its cavea is more than
a semicircle; there are 23 rows of seats below the single
diazoma and 26 above it. Nine stairways divide it into
eight cunei; these are doubled above the diazoma. The
front of the stage building is visible, with the usual five
doors, but the back part has not been excavated. Low
down on each side of the cavea is an arched vomitorium.
Not mentioned by Strabo is a fine tunnel, about 100 m
long, through which the stream runs just below the theater. It makes an obtuse angle in the middle and at one point has a light-shaft in the roof. The builder's name is recorded in an inscription on the wall by the angle, but
it is only partially legible.
The gymnasium lay on the W side of the ravine; its
position is recognizable but virtually nothing survives.
The baths, later covered by a church, were at the S end,
but these were of late construction and did not exist in
Strabo's day. Some 150 m N of the gymnasium are the
ruins of a library, also later than Strabo's time. It apparently had three stories, but the lowest is now mostly buried and the highest almost entirely destroyed. The plan of the middle story is recognizable, and shows the
usual separation of the bookshelves from the outer wall
to protect them from damp.
In the agora on the E side of the ravine little remains
but a few stumps of columns. Near its NW corner the
gerontikon, or Council House of the Elders, is preserved
virtually complete, though a good deal reconstructed. It
forms a semicircle, with twelve rows of seats and five
stairways, enclosed in a rectangle supported at the back
by four large double half-columns. The floor is paved
with regular limestone blocks. There is no indication that
the building was ever roofed. On the S side, behind the
speaker's platform, are three entrances between four
large solid piers; behind these was a row of eight columns, the bases of which remain.
Another late building, between the agora and the
amphitheater, has been dubiously recognized as a bath.
Its spacious vaulted rooms contain many niches for statues, but it is in poor condition and the ground plan is not complete.
Nothing remains of the city wall which presumably
existed in Hellenistic times. There are a few stretches of
a Byzantine wall, but the circuit cannot be traced.
About 3 km W of Nysa lay the village of Acharaka;
the road joining them crossed several gullies, and some
traces of the bridges survive. The healing establishment
of the Plutonion ccmprised a temple of Pluto and Kore
and a remarkable cave called the Charonion; Strabo
) gives a circumstantial account of the cure. Little remains of the temple, just E of the village of Salavatli. It has been conjecturally reconstructed with a very
unusual plan, including two parallel walls running the
length of the interior. The peristyle had twelve columns
on the sides and six at the ends; the orientation is N-S,
with the entrance apparently on the N. At present a row
of six unfluted column drums and a few other blocks are
visible. The Charonion, by Strabo's account, should be
somewhere above the temple, but no cave exists in this
position today. A little to the W is a deep ravine, in
which rises the sulphur-bearing stream that gave the place
its healing properties; this has been proposed as the
Charonion, but here again no cave of any consequence
is to be found.
W. von Diest, Nysa ad Maeandrum
; C. B. Welles, Royal Correspondence in the
(1934) no. 9; D. Magie, Roman Rule
in Asia Minor
(1950) 989-91; G. E. Bean, Turkey beyond the Maeander
G. E. BEAN