Tuesday, 7 May 2013


Assos is typical of many of the towns

Assos from afar

are due to see over the next few days – typical in an archaeological sense as well as a modern day sense. There is a fairly steep hill where from the top, you can overlook the surrounding countryside and once upon a time in the past, someone said “I will build a fortress / citadel / temple / town…. on the top of this hill in order to show how powerful / important / wealthy…. I am”.

Assos Acropolis Plan

So on the top of this hill, we have an Acropolis, the “Temple of Athena”, surrounded by some city walls within which are numerous city buildings such as the Agora, Bouleuterion, Shops, Houses etc and outside of the city walls are a large number of Sepulchres  because burials were not allowed within the city walls unless you were very very important. One of the claims to fame for Assos is that Aristotle founded a school here and married the Kings adopted daughter.

Assos Macro plan

So the city plan eventually lands up with the a straight road heading towards the town from inland, it crosses the river

Assos Ottoman Bridge

(this is actually an Ottoman Bridge rather than Assos street down through mousoleuma really ancient one) and the road continues through the Mausoleum and uphill towards the city gates

Assos street through mausoleum towards gate

which are on the right hand side of this picture

Assos sarcophogi and walls

and far below the citadel which can be seen to the top of this picture.

Assos sarcophogii

The Sarcophagi have of course all been open and looted – the only time things are found inside one is if it is discovered buried underground.

Assos street out of agora

Having passed through the City Gates, we proceed along a street into the Agora (aka Market) where we could buy a tribulum

Assos Tribulum

or a wooden bowl into which you can put the threshed wheat. These two items are obviously not original roman products but sitting by the side of the road, they looked as if they could have been.

Threshing Bowl

The plan of the Agora is reasonably typical other than the two stoa (a long colonnaded covered area) are not parallel and the lower stoa is built onto a revetment (because of the hillside) and hence has a basement.

Assos Agora Plan

Assos south end of stoa

This picture shows that top stoa on the plan above has been cut into the hillside and the citadel is at the very top of the photograph.

Assos view of bouleuterion

At the end of the Agora is the Bouleuterion which functions as the Council Offices / Council Chamber and sometimes also as a small theatre.

To our right, is a view of the island of Lesbos

Assos theatre and sea beyond

and the theatre (built around 400 to 300 BC)which has been built into the hillside.

Assos view inside theatre

Assos plan of theatre

The stage was originally a two storied affair

Assos theatre possible inside wall

with passage ways into the hillside to enable access / egress. At some time. adjustments were made around the Orchestra  to enable a wall / balustrade to be installed to protect the patrons from gladiatorial fights or animals which might be in the Orchestra.

Assos Harbour St Paul LesbosFar below is the town’s harbour from where St Paul set sail for Lesbos. 

Proceeding up to the temple on the top of the hill, we pass a watch tower

Assos Citadal Tower

stop to admire the view over the plains

Assos View from Acropolis-1

pass the cistern within which water is stored

Assos Cistern

so that the city has its own water reserves in case of siege

and we get to the Temple of Atheni. When it was originally built it looked like this

Assos Acropolis Model

and part of its front facade is now in the Archaeological Museum in Istanbul

Assos - front of temple in Istanbul

These days, all that is left is the base of the temple plus a number of columns which have been re-erected.

Assos Accropolis View

The knobs protruding from the sides of each of the stones are there to assist lifting them into place. Sometimes these are cut off and the surface is then given a fine finish.

Assos View of Acropolis

From the temple, there is a fine view over the sea and the island of Lesbos.

Assos View from Acropolis

Assos is indeed a lovely place and one can learn a lot about town design by walking around it. It is also relatively untroubled with visitors (as compared to Ephesus or Pergamum).

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