Priene

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Priene (Ancient Greek: Πριήνη, Priēnē) was an ancient Greek city of Ionia (and member of the Ionian League) at the base of an escarpment of Mycale, about 6 kilometres (4 mi) north of the then course of the Maeander (now called the Büyük Menderes or "Big Maeander") River, 67 kilometres (42 mi) from today's Aydin, 15 kilometres (9 mi) from today's Söke and 25 kilometres (16 mi) from ancient Miletus. It was formerly on the sea coast, built overlooking the ocean on steep slopes and terraces extending from sea level to a height of 380 metres (1,250 ft) above sea level at the top of the escarpment.[3] Today, after several centuries of changes in the landscape, it is an inland site.

Priene possessed a great deal of famous Hellenistic art and architecture. The city's original position on Mount Mycale has never actually been discovered; however, it is believed that it was a peninsula possessing two harbours. Priene never held a great deal of political importance due to the city's size, as it is believed around 4 to 5 thousand inhabitants occupied the region. The city was arranged into four districts, firstly the political district which consisted of the Bouleterion and the Prytaneion, the cultural district containing the Theatre, the commercial where the Agora was located and finally the religious district which contained sanctuaries dedicated to Zeus and Demeter and most importantly the Temple of Athena.

Contents

Historical geography

Earliest cities

The city visible on the slopes and escarpment of Mycale was constructed according to plan entirely within the 4th century BCE. It was not the original Priene, which had been a port city situated at the then mouth of the Maeander River. This location caused insuperable environmental difficulties for it due to slow aggradation of the riverbed and progradation in the direction of the Aegean Sea. Typically the harbor would silt over and the population find itself living in pest-ridden swamps and marshes. The underlying causes of the problem are that the Maeander flows through a slowly subsiding rift valley creating a drowned coastline and that human use of the previously forested slopes and valley denudes the countryside and accelerates erosion. The sediments are progressively deposited in the trough at the mouth of the river, which migrates westward and more than compensates for the subsidence.

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