Abydos, Hellespont

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For other uses, see Abydos (disambiguation)

Abydos (Greek: Άβυδος), an ancient city of Mysia, in Asia Minor, situated at Nara Burnu or Nagara Point on the best harbor on the Asiatic shore of the Hellespont. Across Abydos lies Sestus on the European side marking the shortest point in the Dardanelles, scarcely a mile broad. The strategic site has been a prohibited zone in the twentieth century. Hero and Leander's story took place near Abydos.

Abydos was first mentioned in the catalogue of Trojan allies (Iliad ii.836). It probably was a Thracian town, as Strabo has it, but was afterwards colonized by Milesians, with the consent of Gyges, king of Lydia, around 700 BC. It was occupied by the Persians in 514 BC, and Darius burnt it in 512. Here Xerxes built two bridges of boats and crossed the strait in 480 BC when he invaded Greece.[1]

Abydos thereafter became a member of the Delian League, until it revolted from Athenian rule in 411 BC.[2] It allied itself to Sparta, until 394 BC; King Agesilaus of Sparta crossed here while returning to Greece. Abydos then passed under Achaemenid rule, until 334 BC. Alexander the Great threw a spear to Abydos while crossing the strait and claimed Asia as his own.

Abydos is celebrated for the vigorous resistance it made against Philip V of Macedon in 200 BC,[3] and is famed in myth as the home of Leander. It minted coins from the early fifth century BC to the mid-third century AD.

The town remained until late Byzantine times an important toll and customs station of the Hellespont, its importance thereafter being transferred to the Dardanelles, after the building of the "Old Castles" by Sultan Mehmet II (c. 1456).

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