01. Assos is one of the most beautiful little towns in Turkey. Anna Edmonds, well known writer on Turkey, believes that the name came from Isij, “rising sun”, a phrase later pronounced as “Asia.”
02. It is hard to believe that this little village on the edge of the Aegean Sea is to Turkey what Niagara Falls is to the USA and Canada – the “honeymoon capital” of the Turkey.
03. Assos is a tranquil seaside retreat amid ancient ruins. The modern Turkish town is called Behramkale, which is built on top of a small ancient volcanic rock.
04. These ancient ruins overlook the Aegean Sea.
05. Nearby lies the Greek island of Lesbos, or Midilli in Turkish six miles, or ten kilometers, away.
06. The origin of Assos is debated by archaeologists. Troad is the region below the Dardanelles and Assos.
07. Emil Forrer postulated that this region used to be called Wilusa and that it had been dominated by the Hittites.
08. In 1983 Houwink ten Cate showed that two fragments were from the same original cuneiform tablet. Today most archaeologists accept that the restored letter showed that Wilusa was correctly placed in northwestern Anatolia.
09. Trevor Bryce, another archaeologist, writes that Hittite texts indicate a number of Achaeans raids on Wilusa during the 13th Century BC.
10. Homer uses the term Achaean word 598 times in the Iliad and Odyssey as a collective word to describe the Greeks.
11. Starting from the 13th century BC and for the next 100 years there may have been constant wars in this region. These battles may have resulted in the overthrow of king Walmu, the king of Wilusa.
12. This period of history would correspond with Troy Level VII – 1275-1100 BC.
13. From the 12th century to the 8th century BC this area of the Aegean Sea lived through a torpor that lasted at least 400 years.
14. Bryce also reports that archaeological surveys conducted by John Bintliff in the 1970s show that a powerful kingdom that held sway over northwestern Anatolia was based at Troy. If so, this explains the background of Homer’s Iliad.
15. Some scholars believe that Assos, as a part of the international wars going on in the region, was founded by the people of Methymna in the 7th century B.C. a town on the island of Lesbos.
16. At that time in history the Mysian peoples along the Aegean Coast were part of the Ionian civilization.
17. Assos had a long history as a Greek colony, and then a city.
18. Atop a hill surrounded by olive groves are the ruins of the Doric-style Temple of Athena (530 BC) surrounded by crumbling city walls and an ancient necropolis (cemetery).
19. The most famous Temple of Athena was on the Acropolis in Athens. The name of the city, Athens, comes from the devotion of the people to the goddess Athena. The worship of this goddess spread across the Aegean Sea.
20. She was the goddess of War. The Temple of Athena mixed both Doric and Ionic styles in its original construction.
21. The half dozen reconstructed columns cannot give any idea of the popularity, centrality, grace, stature or importance that this temple held for thousands of people over hundreds of years. This was an important center of Greek worship.
22. Great prosperity followed the defeat of the Persian troupes in 480BC. Persia expanded its empire to the West and great battles were fought over the territories around the Aegean Sea.
23. With the defeat of the Persian fleet and the withdrawal from the Aegean Sea the way was open for a long period of uninterrupted peace.
24. The tyrant Hermeias was an enlightened ruler for that age. He studied at the Academy as a student of Plato in Athens, became the governor to Lesbos and Troad, the region as far north as the Dardanelles.
25. Hermeias encouraged philosophers and men of letters to live in Assos. Many buildings constructed at that time are still visible. Assos therefore flourished at the height of classical Greek expression.
26. Two famous philosophers came to live in Assos: Xenocrates and Aristotle. He went there in 348 BC and stayed for three years. During that time Aristotle fell in love with adopted daughter of Hermeias, Pythia.
27. The Persians, who had been defeated once in their wars against Greece, struck again. Even the massive walls could not keep the Persians out. Hermeias was captured and tortured to death in 344 BC
28. Aristotle founded his first school in Assos. Then Aristotle moved to Macedonia where he taught a smart young boy who seemed to have a bright future: Alexander, who was to become “the Great”.
29. The remains of the ancient city are below the Temple of Athena. Aristotle’s poem “Ode in Praise of Valor”, written to commemorate his friendship Hermeias, was with often repeated at this temple.
30. Wheels of international revenge may move slowly, but they grind onwards with incredible precision. The Persians had conquered Greece.
31. Now Greece wanted the opposite politically in Greece.. Instead of being invaded it would invade and conquer Persia. It took 150 years for the right set of circumstances to come about
32. Alexander the Great gathered the armies of Greece (Macedonia and Achaia) and set out upon a conquest of the known world.
33. In 333 BC he began by conquering Anatolia, today’s Turkey, and then in two dramatic battles he conquered Persia.
34. Tiny Assos was simply a dot in the huge tapestry of events between 333 and 321 BC. Alexander conquered the world as far as India and Afghanistan, then lost his life in a fever.
35. Pergamum, today’s Bergama, became the undisputed powerful city of all the shores of the Aegean Sea. From 241 to 133 BC Assos paid its taxes to Pergamum.
36. When Attalus III (138-133 BC) died he left a will that ceded the territory of Troad, the northern region where Assos was located, as well as the whole of his kingdom to the Republic of Rome. Rome was now the rising star, the new hub of power in the world.
37. The Romans reorganized the administration of Pergamum, an act that was well in keeping with their bent and abilities to reorganize anyone and everything. From roads to temples, stadiums to Theatres, schools to triumphal arches - the Romans excelled in working with stone.
38. They placed Pergamum within the new province Asia Minor. Assos was part of another province, Mysia.
39. St Paul visited Assos briefly during his third missionary journey, (53-57 AD.)
40. He had landed in Alexandria Troas together with a number of traveling companions, probably in early April 55AD. He wanted to be in Jerusalem by Pentecost, which usually falls in May.
41. Wishing to be left alone for two or three days, Paul walked by land to Assos and sent his friends on to Assos by ship.
42. As he walked along Paul must have had many things on his mind.
43. He had initiated Christian work that included at least nine churches in what is today Turkey and Greece.
44. Each one of these churches had its own problems and he writes that he was more concerned about the health of the churches than the persecutions that came to him everywhere he went. (2 Corinthians 11:16-33).
45. Secondly, Paul was carrying a substantial amount of money from the Gentile Christians to the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem.
46. A large part of the New Testament that talks about generosity and giving was given to this offering. (I Corinthians 16:1; 2 Corinthians 8 and 9; Romans 15; Acts 20, 21).
47. Paul knew that he faced stiff opposition and probably physical assaults in Jerusalem.
48. At the same time Paul, who was a writer and careful teacher of early Christian doctrine, was thinking who he would leave as leaders in the churches he had started.
49. We also know from Romans 15 that he had already framed a future trip to Rome. He wanted to use Rome as his base for a future trip to Spain.
50. I believe he wanted to speak to the priests the Temple of Apollo of the Mice, Smitheion where an image of Apollo stood killing a mouse. The remains are located in Gulpinar, Laughing Springs, half-way between Alexandria Troas and Assos. (Click NEXT for photos 51-100.)
51. After this we do not hear anything about Assos in the New Testament.
52. In the time of the Byzantine Empire Assos was included in the thema, or province, of the Aegean Islands. Assos received a new name: Makhramion. After the invasion of Muslim forces the sturdy city fell into disrepair.
53. Following the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 by the Ottoman Empire, the Troad region became part of the sanjak of Biga, the name of the Ottoman province along the Aegean Sea. Assos today is known as Behramkoy.
54. Nearby is the 14th-century Ottoman Murad Hüdavendigar Mosque. Some people identify the present mosque as an Orthodox Church building converted into a present day mosque.
55. Others identify the building materials that are used in the mosque as materials that came from a previous Orthodox church and that were later incorporated into the doorway, lentil and door frame.
56. As you go down the steep hill you will pass the marketplace, the city walls, theatre and Council Chamber, perhaps 2,300 years old. The gymnasium or “high school” is identifiable as one of the ruins.
57. Enchanting old stone houses that started out as Greek homes previous to the birth of the Republic of Turkey in 1923 now serve as inns, pensions and restaurants.
58. Down the steep seaward side of the hill at the water's edge is a hamlet alongside the dock. The effect is so charming that thousands of Turks find this their number one choice of an out of the way place to spend a romantic weekend.
59. The small pebbly beach is less of an attraction than the boat tours and picturesque nature of the hamlet itself.
60. One can reach Assos by taking a bus south from Canakkale along the main E87 / D550 route to Ayvacik.
61. Some visitors get Ayvacik confused with a nearby summer tourist city of Ayvalik. Ayvalik is a port city that receives thousands of tourists in the summer. See if you can take in both places, Assos and Ayvalik. The bus ride from Canakkale to Assos takes just under two hours.
62. The remainder of this album has photos from my collection of pictures taken in Assos.
63 As always, I received freely - use them freely. If you make a profit please donate generously to a charity working with children in the developing world say, "Photos used by permission of David Phillips."
64. This album incorporates text from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, which is in the public domain.
65. This album also incorporates some text from the Catholic Encyclopedia, which is in the public domain.
66. The following photos are additional pictures from my collection of scenes in and around ancient Assos.