When it was first built, Priene was about 6 kms from the course of the River Meander but over the years, the Meander continued to meander and eventually the town could not call itself a town with a nearby port.
It was laid out in a strict rectangular format
and in its day, it would have looked quite spectacular and organised.
And so on a very wet thundery day, we walked around the rectangular street pattern and climbed over remains
Appropriately, we came across an old roman
drain in the path which had three inlets and one outlet although it would not have coped with the volume of rain that day.
The buildings here were much smaller than those we had seen elsewhere leading us to assume that some were offices since we were close to the Bouleuterion at this point.
The Temple of Athena Polias was built around 330BC, it is said using funds provided by Alexander the Great.
Its design is similar to all temples but there were a few interesting elements we had not seen before such as
these lines drawn on the temple platform by the original stonemasons to act as a guide for the next layer of stones,
the remains of a staple used to tie two stones together. The staple was inserted into holes in each stone and then “glued” in place with molten lead. here ancient metal thieves have managed to remove the top part of the staple but not the lead encased element.
Here the track cut in the floor to guide the roller on the bottom of the door is clearly evident as is the door post hole in the top left of the photograph.
The temple was of course positioned such that it could be seen from afar and from it you could also see afar. This is the view (with heavy rain approaching across the plain) from the temple platform over where the River Meader used to be
We had no explanation for this flower pattern carved into the temple floor. It was not in a significant position and we have no idea why it is there.
This time, there was a variation on the usual circular segmented games pattern carved into the floor.
The Theatre was well preserved but reasonably standard. There were some seats in the front row for important people and clear evidence on the hill of it being extended as some time.
A stage platform was still in evidence
and for the first time we saw the remains of
a Clepsydra (a water clock) at the front
for use when timing orators. This one looked like it was not one of the simple ones but exactly how it worked is a mystery.
The Bouleuterion was unusual in that for the first time, we were in a rectangular debating
chamber where protagonists could sit opposite each other. Built around 200BC it was roofed but later supporting pillars were erected (resting on some of the seats) to support sagging roof beams. Council offices were next door.
The Great Temple of Didyma
This temple was home to the second most important Oracle in the Ancient World (after Delphi). Dating from at least 600BC, it was destroyed by the Persians in 494BC and rebuilt by Alexander the Great whose arrival (if you wish to believe it) in 334BC at the ruined site caused the temple waters to start flowing again and brought the oracle back to life.
In its day, it must have been a magnificent building (although unfinished).
The first impression is of size and weight
because everything about it is massive and heavy and an aerial view shows how big it was.
The decorations are very ornate but show
evidence of the temple being unfinished
as here where the patterns stop on the top side of these stones but continue on the bottom section where carvers would not have been able to get to once the stone was laid (i.e. the underside was carved before the stone was put into position.
The big surprise here is that have entered what you think is the temple (i.e. climbed the steps and wandered about between the
large pillars, you then find a tunnel leading into the rock wall.
The roof of the tunnel shows the usual carved pattern. Walking down the tunnel takes you into an inner courtyard
within which was the oracle when the temple was built, and later (bottom plan above), a Byzantine Church.
This view looks down towards the spring at the rear of the picture
this is the general area of the spring
Whilst settlement in the Miletus area dates back to 3500 BC, the current grid patterned
dates from around 600BC. It too had a large port in those days but it also suffered from the meanderings of the River Meander.
The original port entrance was on the left of this photograph
and the original port was in the middle right.
When you approach the city, the first building you see is the Theatre which is large by any standard.
Most of the stage area has gone and therefore there is an uninterrupted view of the seating.
Beautifully preserved underneath the theatre are the various tunnels through which the crowds went when accessing their seats.
When it was originally built, it sat around 5000 and in roman times it was expanded to seat 15,000.
More information can be found out about the Theatre here.
The Faustina Baths
The baths are impressive because of their size. During their life they were rebuilt a
and this picture of part of one side shows at least four different rebuilds using materials gleaned from elsewhere.
This arch is within the baths and separates probably the cold area from the warm area.
From the other side of the arch, we are in a warm room which is about 80 metres long
with 6 side alcoves beneath which were the furnaces to generate heat and steam for the hot room.
The Frigidarium is well preserved and on one
wall near the entrance is a fragment of the original marble wall covering.
Attached to the Baths is the Museum (a meeting hall where statues of the Muses were displayed)
this is large
and tucked away in an alcove, was for me, the best part of Miletus – a fragment of original Roman plaster
One could stand very close to it without fear
of an attendant telling you to stand back and I could see the original brush strokes as the artist attempted to reproduce stone panel edges.
There is a reasonably good website with a lot of information about Miletus here and here – the second one is a little heavy on graphics by trying to impressive but within it are some good images of what Miletus might have looked like.