Priene: planned city

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Priene © David Gill

The city of Priene on the north side of the Maeander Valley preserves its planned (‘Hippodamian’) form. One of the most prominent features is the temple of Athena Polias. One of the best viewpoints is from the cliff path to the akropolis.

How do you manage visitors to such an extensive site? How do you protect unexcavated parts of the site? How do you make sense of such a complex site?

Priene: The Temple of Athena Polias

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Temple of Athena Polias, Priene © David Gill

The temple of Athena Polias dominates the lower part of the city of Priene. The Ionic temple was reported to have been designed by the architect Pytheos who was associated with the Mausoleum of Halikarnassos. The naos itself measured 100 Attic feet.

The south anta of the temple carried an inscription recording the benefaction of the temple: King Alexander | dedicated the naos | to Athena Polias. The inscription was recovered by the members of the Society of the Dilettanti during their sponsored excavation of the city in 1869-70. This was then presented to the British Museum in 1870 (see online details). The adjacent blocks were used to record other benefactions from Alexander and other civic records.

The inscription suggests that the benefaction should date to c. 334 BC, following the campaigns of Alexander in western Anatolia.

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Dedication by Alexander the Great, Temple of Athena Polias, Priene © David Gill

Priene: Bouleuterion

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Bouleuterion, Priene © David Gill

The bouleuterion at Priene in western Turkey is particularly well preserved. It dates to c. 150 BC. There are 16 rows of seats on the north side, and 10 each on the west and east side. The building was designed to hold approximately 640 individuals, suggesting its role as the space for the council or boule.

An altar decorated with boukrania stands in the centre of the space.