With Maps and Plans



Route 4.
Kulakli ................. 5 hrs.
Assos ................. 4 hrs.
Kap Baba ............. 5 hrs.

     Taken from Mr. Pullan’s notes of a journey in 1866.
    . . . From Kulakli (nowadays Gülpinar1) to Assos there is a road over wild mountainous country; covered with brushwood for 2 hrs. The village of Bourgas is here reached. Thence county improves in character, and the scenery in grandeur. In front is a plain about 200 feet above the level of the sea, dotted with trees, and bordered on the left by low mountains, on the right by the sea, from which rise – black with olive plantations – the highest mountains of the island of Mitylene, so near, that the positions of the villages on their side can be distinguished by the naked eye. Beyond the plains, and bordering the sea, towers the isolated rock on which was situated the acropolis of Assos – the most conspicuous object in the landscape. In 2 h. the village of Behram, adjoining the ruins, is reached.
       Behram(Assos) 4 hours.     The description of the ruins by Mr. Abbot, of the Foreign Office, who visited Assos subsequently to Mr. Pullan, is so complete that we give it in full: -
     ‘ “L’on peut étudier dans ses murailles le plus belle exemple de construction hellénique que les siècles nous aient conservé,” – Texier, “Asie Mineure,” p. 201, ed. 1862. “ The ruins of Assos give perhaps the most perfect idea of a Greek city that anywhere now exists.” – Leake, “Journal of a Tour in Asia Minor,” ed. 1824, pp. 128, 129.
up     ‘The town is said by Strabo (“Geog.” lib. xiii. c. 1) to have been a colony from Methymne (Molivo). The Æolian cities enjoyed a peculiar system of self-government, forming together a kind of Hanseatic League. Their rulers, elected either for life or for a term of years, were called Æsymnetæ. After the establishment of the Persian empire, Assos was named to supply the Persian monarchs with wheat. During the confusion which proceeded the overthrow of the Persian monarchy, Assos for a short time regained its independence (B.C.350), - see Strabo, “Geog.” lib. xiii.c.1 – and an Eunuch named Hermeias obtained the rulership. He invited the philosophers Xenocrates and Aristotle to reside at his court, and gave his niece in a marriage to the latter. The Persians, however, succeeded in regaining possession of Assos, and Hermeias was put to death. The philosophers escaped to Greece. After the death of Alexander, Assos formed part of the kingdom of Lysimachus, from whose rule it passed to the Kings of Pergamus; and, finally, at the death of King Attalus III., was incorporated in the Roman empire, B.C.130. St. Paul and St. Luke visited it on their way from Alexandria Troas to Mitylene (Acts xx.13). Assos was one of the earliest Greek colonies to receive Christianity. Maximus, Bishop of Assos, was present at the Third General Council at Ephesus A.D.431). After this the name of Assos disappears from the page of history. Its name of Behram is said probably be derived from one of the generals of the conqueror Orkhan, who ravaged this part of Asia Minor. The date of the Byzantine, or mediæval towers on the acropolis is unknown. Strabo speaks of Assos as celebrated for its fortifications and school of philosophy (“Geog.” lib. xiii.c.1): Assos is fortified and well walled, having a steep and long ascent from the sea and harbour, so that the musician Stratomius seems naturally to have said of it, ‘Come to Assos, so as the quicker to attain the summit of destruction.’”
     ‘The harbour is furnished with a large mole. The Stoic philosopher Cleanthes was born here, who succeeded to the school of Zeno of Citium, and who submitted it to Chrysippus of Soleus.
     ‘The line of Stratomius is a parody on the verse of the “Iliad,” lib vi. ver. 143, and the pun a good example of a Greek joke: -

up     ‘The term sarcophagus is derived from a stone which was found in the neighborhood of Assos, Pliny, “Nat. History,” lib. xxxvi. c. 27. – “At Assos in the Troad the sarcophagus stone is quarried from an easily split vein of rock. The bodies of the dead being buried in it are said to be consumed within forty days, all except the teeth. According to Mucianus, the mirrors also and strigils, clothes and shoes placed with the corpses, become petrified. There are stones of the same sort in Lycia and in the East, which, if bound onto the bodies of persons, eat into the flesh.” And also, lib. ii. c. 98: “In the neighborhood of Assos in the Troad, a stone is found which consumes all substances.” This sarcophagus stone was said to be good for gout! Pliny, lib. xxviii.c.37: “and there is another remedy for gout – old oil mixed, beaten up with a sarcophagus stone, and with cinquefoil bruised in wine, either with chalk or ashes;” and (lib.xxxvi.c.28): ”The briny Assos stone alleviates gout, the feet being put in a vessel made of it.” Celsus also recommends (lib.iv.c.24) the use of “the stone which eats into the flesh and which the Greeks call ‘sarcophagon.’”  What this stone was is, I believe, unknown.
     ‘These passages from Strabo and Pliny comprise with Acts xx. 13,14 as far as I am aware, all that is said of Assos by ancient writers.
‘When we were at Assos in November 1864, The Turk Government were employing a detachment of soldiers, under the command of a bimbashi, in quarrying from the ruins all the largest stones for shipment to Constantinople for the construction of the new docks, at the arsenal there.
‘The remains at Assos may be divided into three classes – buildings, walls, and tombs.
     ‘Buildings. – The acropolis.  Not a vestige remains of the Doric temple which stood here, except some capitals ranged in a line to form a fence. M. Texier removed the friezes and all other stones of value; they are now in the Louvre. Now the very site can hardly be distinguished. This temple was of a peculiar Egyptian character, and is fully described by him1. On the north side, on an artificial platform cut out of the rock, and overhanging the village of Behram, stands a square building, with a low dome, now used as a mosque; it was evidently previously a Byzantine church. The inscription over the entrance is in barbarous characters, and is said to be in commemoration of the building of the church by a bishop of Scamandria, but this interpretation seems very unsatisfactory. It is not given in Boeckh. Behind the mosque is a lofty square tower, loopholed, in good preservation, and to the west of it another tower in ruins. These towers are roughly built, and of comparatively modern date. Near the towers are some arched vaults, probably of the same period. Some antique remains – a part of a cornice, and broken portions of a column – are let into the walls of the mosque; and some others lie scattered about, but nothing of any interest. The view from the plateau of the acropolis is very fine. In descending the path from the summit, the traveller should notice the curiously contorted columnar shape of the basalt.
up     On the south or sea-side of the hill were situated the principal buildings, and here has the work of the recent destruction been most active. There seem to have been two terraces, one at the base of the acropolis, the other lower down on the slope leading to the sea. The upper terrace is backed by walls built against the rock, and may perhaps have had a corridor forming one side of the agora. This line of wall is of beautiful workmanship, with small apertures cut in it at regular distances, probably for drainage, but having an ornamental effect. In front of the walls are the remains of some large buildings, the size and oblong shape of which is traceable in the foundations of huge blocks. At the east gate of the principal building stood two monoliths, said to be the largest in the place – one a column, and the other an immense square block, leaning against it, as though having fallen from an entrance gate. The column was the only one left standing in the place. The Turks had commenced digging a trench round it, and hoped to have it prostrate in a few days. To the eastward are the remains of a small building supposed to have been a nymphæum. It consists of two chambers; part of the wall on three sides of the larger one still remain. Built into the back wall of the principal chamber is a semi-circular slab, and on the ground lay a large stone, hollowed out as though to receive water. There are remains also of other buildings, but there appears to have been a land-slip from the overhanging precipice, and the ruins left are a mere chaotic heap. The lower terrace is a heap of ruins, the purposes to which the buildings on it were put quite indistinguishable. From this lower terrace one looks down to the theatre. Leake speaks of it as being “in perfect preservation.” Texier says: “Un vaste théâtre, dont les sièges sont encore en place; mais le proscénium est en grande partie écroulé. » It is now nothing but an enormous quarry, the seats piled upon one another in indescribable confusion, from the attempts made to carry off the stones. I only noticed two seats in situ, and two small arches, which seemed to have supported the steps leading from tier to tier; the proscenium is clearly marked out, but covered with earth and overgrown with grass and weeds.From the theatre a rude path conducts to the scala, or landing-place, where there is a small fishing village and breakwater. The ancient mole mentioned by Strabo was E. of this. Some traces of it are visible from the sea. Retracing our steps to the upper terrace, on the west side, and just within the principal gate, stood the Doric temple of Augustus. The blocks which formed the architrave were lying, ranged side by side, on the path leading to the sea, ready for shipment.
up     ‘On another block of somewhat larger proportions, we found one-half of the inscription given by Leake, engraved in small characters and much defaced. This reads as follows, and is supposed to have stood over a gateway: (This part of the temple) “was repaired out of the rent of the lands which Kleostratos, a son of the city, and by birth of the race of Apellikon left for the repair of the city.” (for Apellikon, see Strabo.)
     Walls. – The most interesting and best-preserved remains at Assos are the walls. They afford one of the most perfect examples extant of the mode of fortification adopted by the ancient Greeks. The line of walls was so arranged as to take advantage of the strength of the position, and divided the town into two parts, between stands the acropolis. The partition wall is of less strength than the outer walls. The walls are constructed of the local granite of trachyte, and are finished, with great care, of bevelled blocks of great size. No cement or mortar is used. The western walls are in the best preservation. We found the best-preserved wall, that near the tombs, to be, as nearly as we could measure it, 27 ft. 10 in. high, exclusive of coping. The towers are all square, with one exception. For a description of this round tower and its adjoining bastion, see Texier. He supposes it to be Pelasgic. It looked to me, however, quite as probable that its rude construction may date from as late as a prehistoric period. The walls appear to have had a double facing, and the interspace filled up with rough blocks forming a path along the top. Texier estimates the circumference at 3,103 mètres.
up     Gates. -  These are the most remarkable of the remains at Assos, and bear in their construction evidence of the very highest antiquity, presenting examples of the horizontal arc in use by the Greeks, previous to the introduction of the true or key-stone arch. The principal gates are three, one in the partition wall and two leading to the open country. They are all close together.
     ‘The principal entrance gate, engraved by Texier, had just been destroyed by the Turks, previously to our arrival. The principle of the Greek pseudo-arch was, that it was formed by cutting, as it were, the shape out of the wall instead of building it up by stones supporting each other. This pseudo-arch is used in the well-known lion gateway at Mycenæ, and forms a kind of frame to the sculptured lions. I noticed a similar arch at the recent excavations near Bounarbashi. There are  other examples, at the tomb of Tantalus and elsewhere. The use of the horizontal arch is, on all hands, allowed to be a proof  of great antiquity.
Texier says: “Supposer que ses murailles ne remontent plus au-delà du cinquième siècle avant J.-C., c’est leur assigner la limite la plus rapprochée qu’il soit possible.”
Tombs. – The tombs of the ordinary Greek sarcophagus shape, decorated with sculptured wreaths, are nearly all in ruins. The following are the measurements of the most perfect one: - Length, 12ft.; width, 4 ft. 11 in.; height, 5 ft. 10 ½ in..; thickness of the stone, 7 ½ in.
     ‘The inscriptions we saw were in Greek characters, but much defaced. I am not aware of any Latin inscriptions having been found at Assos. This would seem to show that the town retained its Greek character to the last.’

up     To return, take the road to Cape Baba . . .

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