Priene (Greek Πριήνη ) was an ancient city in Asia Minor in the west of modern Turkey. The ruins of the city lie at the present location in the district Güllübahçe Soke of Aydın Province.


Priene is located north of Miletus on the mountainous peninsula of Mycale. The exact location of the first settlement of the Priener is not known. The town's origins lie in the mists of history. According to Pausanias took Greek immigrants, namely Ionians and Thebans, the city of the Carians. Priene was a member of the company founded in the 8th century BC at the latest Ionian Cities and was after the destruction of the Carian city Melie protective power of the federal sanctuary Panionion. Written mentioned, the city comes in connection with the incursions of the Cimmerians in the 7th century BC, who plundered the whole region, the Phrygian kingdom and also almost destroyed the Lydian. Then flared with Samos disputes over fertile land in the north of the mountain train of Mycale, which were to continue until the end of the 2nd century. To Priene 645 fell under the dominion of the Lydians. In the early 6th century BC Priene lived in the legislature Bias, one of the Seven Sages. As 545 BC the Persians attacked the Lydian Empire, prevented most of the Ionian cities this loyalty. Priene and the neighboring city of Magnesia are destroyed after the conquest and have been sold into slavery the inhabitants. The extent of this devastation is doubtful, since the Greek cities were already committed to a little later charges. Priene participated in 494 with twelve ships of the naval battle off the island of charge (ionic revolt 501-494 BC) and was destroyed as the other Ionian cities after the crackdown. Even after the victory of the Greeks over the Persians Priene recovered only slowly. In the tribute lists of the Delian League Priene appeared only sporadically. Occurred in the 5th century BC, no longer as a belligerent party, but the surrounding towns fighting over Priene. 387 BC came Priene with the other Ionian cities in the so-called King's Peace back to the Persian Empire.

Towards the middle of the 4th century BC the city was refounded elsewhere. This measure could have been led by the Carian ruler Mausolus or the Athenians. The now largely excavated settlement lies on the southern slopes of the mountainous peninsula of Mycale below a 300 m high rock pad, which included in the walled city served as the acropolis of the city. Adjacent poleis ( city-states ) were the island of Samos, Miletus in the south, Magnesia on the east and Heraclea on Latmos in the southeast to the west. The new settlement was established on schedule and in spite of the sometimes steep hillside with a rectangular street grid that divided the area into equal insulae. Such systems are referred to the city after the name of the theorist Hippodamos of Miletus as hippodamisch. In the center was a great place, the agora, relieved. In the residential areas of the insulae were apparently divided into equal parcels and built with a broadly common type of house. The most expensive individual construction of the new city was the temple of Athena, which was designed by the architect Pytheos. On one of his assistants a building inscription is engraved for Alexander the Great, who supported the construction when he BC was staying during his conquest against the Persian Empire in 334 Ionia.

Priene, which retained as the other Greek cities in Asia Minor autonomy, had a democratic constitution, the individual offices of the inscriptions are known. Over the following centuries the city was expanded with numerous marble buildings and on, the agora surrounded by halls. Numerous inscriptions provided with statue bases and exedra testify to the influence of individual families.

Priene was one of the Hellenistic surface states of the Seleucids and compared to 246 for about half a century of the Ptolemies until it BC along with the victory of the Romans under Gnaeus Manlius Vulso over the Seleucids 190 in the sphere of Rome, first freelance independent ally. Towards the middle of the 2nd century BC the Cappadocian king Orophernes of Athena in Priene confided to the immeasurable treasure of 400 talents. After Ariarathes V had driven him out with the support of Attalos II, king of Pergamon, the Throne, he demanded the surrender of Priene of money, besieged the city and devastated its surrounding area. However, a request for help to the Romans led to the retreat. Against 140/130 BC destroyed a fire disaster areas and the western district. After the death of Attalus III. Priene came with the entire Reich territory of Pergamon 129 BC by Testament decision under the rule of the Roman Empire, when it remained nominally independent city.

The Mithridatic Wars ( 89-65 BC) brought a severe incision and economic decline. However, some construction projects are evidence of some recovery, which it joined to the early imperial period, most notably the completion of the temple of Augustus, in which he was worshiped from then on with. By alluvial deposits of the meander, the coastline pushed out more and more, which Priene with its harbor rapidly lost its importance. From the second century after all, the humble remains of a synagogue come.

In the division of the Roman Empire came Asia Minor - and thus Priene - the Eastern Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire continued to exist as to 1453. From the 5th century onwards, the city is occupied as a bishop 's seat. In the 13th century, was built of spolia in the area of the former Agora a fort. With the conquest by the Turks around 1300 finally ends the proof of the colonization of the now Sampson said city.


In modern times, the ruins of Priene excited the first time in 1673, the interest of English business traveler. Because of the famous temple of Athena Priene was in the 18th and 19th centuries a destination on the explorations of the Society of Dilettanti to Ionia. It put 1868/69 Richard Popplewell Pullan the Athena sanctuary largely free. The systematic excavation of large parts of the city started in 1895 by the archaeologist Carl Humann. After his death in 1896, the company of Theodor Wiegand and Hans Schrader has continued. A few years later, the results were presented in a full paper. In the years 1995 and 1996 examinations were instead of the original excavations. Since 1998, more excavations are taking place, including under the direction of Wulf Raeck. At regular campaigns especially the late Classical and Hellenistic town planning and residential architecture of Priene be explored.

Priene is a prime example of a medium sized Greek urbanism regular polis. Medium means that in Priene, about 5,000 people lived. The city state of Priene was never historically of great importance and particular political strength. However, a brisk trade was driven with other cities, as proven by coins found in the city.

City ​​plant

The entire city-state covered an area of 400 km ², the actual city Priene an area of ​​37 ha, however, were it cultivated or cultivable only 15 ha; the remaining area offered in case of siege shelter for people from the area and for their livestock. The town is surrounded by a city wall. This includes in addition to the city and the Acropolis.

In the town three goals lead. The west gate leads directly onto the main road. In the east could arise due to landscape conditions not realize. The eastern gate leads a little further north to the town and visitors are guided to the main road via a widened street. The Quellentor via a stair climb in the city.

The orthogonal street grid divides the city into regular insulae of 120 × to 160 feet. Through surveys at the site was an extremely clever system of the system of roads to be reconstructed. The leading north-south roads are mostly so-called staircase roads, ie, the high slope ( up to 35 ° ) was balanced with stairs, but this also means that these roads could not be traveled by car.

The main road that crossed the city from west to east over a distance of about 1000 meters, was the widest, with a width of about 7.1 meters, in what was then units of the city exactly 24 feet.

The basis of measurements of roads, buildings and shrines a Fußmaß of 29.46 cm was determined.


The Agora, the public market and meeting place, was about in the middle of the city. She took in east-west direction, the width of two insulae of the city grid and in north-south direction, the length of half a insulae; she measured, 82 to 88 m. The southern part of the square was surrounded on three sides by an encircling portico of the Doric order; located beyond the northern edge of the main road first made a similar portico. It was BC replaced in the mid 2nd century by a two-aisled building, ' Chantry ' called, which still continued at a Insulation width to the east and was about 116 m long. At the front columns Doric order are remarkably individual features of the Ionic order received ( Stegkannelierung the columns and entablature in the dentils and cornices ionic ). The west wall of this hall was described internally over time with authentic instruments. In the middle of the square is a foundation, formerly stood perhaps an altar of Hermes on. East of the Agora is the sanctuary of Asklepios, the input but not due to the Agora but on the east side of the sanctuary opposite her.

Athena sanctuary

The Athena is one of the relatively few buildings of ancient Greece, whose architect is handed down to us by name. According to Vitruvius ( 1.1.12 and 7.praef.12 ) it was designed by Pytheos, who worked also on Maussoleion of Halicarnassus. Vitruvius praises while the activity at the temple of Athena as excellent.

The temple was a Peripteros with 6 × 11 columns, which had a small Asian- Ephesian basis. Unusually for the Ionic order was the Naos a opisthodomos.

By studying the architectural ornaments of several building phases were occupied, from the beginning in the second half of the 4th century BC to the end in the earliest Roman period, probably still under Augustus.

Through its mention in Vitruvius the temple of Athena and its order of great importance has been attached. After the discovery of the temple in the 18th century, it was, therefore, to obtain the types used (eg, Altes Museum, Berlin). For many years the temple and its surroundings from the German Archaeological Institute and the Technical University of Munich under the direction of Wolf Koenig is studied and researched.


Of the more than twenty very well preserved partially theaters of western Asia Minor alone has this preserves the Hellenistic form. All the others were rebuilt in Roman times. A special feature are the five marble chair around the Orchestra, which were intended for dignitaries and special guests.

In the main axis between the stage building ( skene ), and the auditorium is an altar to the god Dionysus, whose cult emerged from the theatrical experience of the ancient world. Good condition are the proscenium ( proskenion ) with half-columns and a Doric entablature pillars and the stage area. Between the pillars, panels were hung with painted backgrounds - the forerunner of the later stage image. The theater had excellent acoustics and summed with 6500 people all the inhabitants of the city. It was used both for theater performances as well as community meetings. This is indicated by a stone down with a holder for an hourglass, the limited speaking time.