History of Antandros

The ancient sources claim versatile historical backgrounds for Antandros, the city at the southern skirts of Ida Mountain.

Herodotus talks about the preparations for and the route taken by the campaign that Persian king Xerxes planned to make upon Greece in 438 BC. According to Herodotus:

So the army proceeded on its march from Lydia to the river Caïcos and the land of Mysia; and then setting forth from the Caïcos and keeping the mountain of Cane on the left hand, it marched through the region of Atarneus to the city of Carene. From this it went through the plain of Thebe, passing by the cities of Adramytteion and Antandros of the Pelasgians; and taking mount Ida on the left hand, it came on to the land of Ilion. And first, when it had stopped for the night close under Mount Ida, thunder and bolts of lightning fell upon it, and destroyed here in this place a very large number of men.1

Kserkses Çanakkale Boğazı’nda
Kserkses in the Dardanelles

Herodotus calls Antandros a Pelasgian settlement, whereas Virgil a Phryg settlement. In the work of Virgil named Aeneas, it is mentioned that Aeneas and his companions, who fled the city of Troia, which was destroyed after the war between the Achaeans and the Trojans in 1200 BC, established their navy in Antandros, a Phrygian settlement located on the skirts of Mount Ida. 2

Another ancient writer Strabo talks about Antandros in his book ‘Geographica’. According to Strabo, an ancient writer Alkaios says Antandros is a Leleg settlement, whereas Demetrios of Skepsis says it is a Cilician city. Strabo further evaluates the geography of the area where Antandros lies as follows:

Strabon'un Geographika adlı eserinin 1620 basımı
1620 edition of Strabo’s Geographica

The coast line from Lectum to Canaea is called Adramytteion Gulf. The cape marks the starting point of this gulf and there lies Gargara. Following Gargara towards inland is Antandros, and as you continue uphill, there lies Aleksandreia Mountain where Paris is told to have acted as the judge. Also, the timber from Ida Mountain is marketed there in Aspaneus. Then, you come across the village of Astyra bearing a sacred area devoted to Artemis of Astyrene. Close to Astyra, there is the city of Adramytteion with a harbour and a naval base and colonized by the Greeks. 3

Alongside Strabo’s geographical references, Stephanos Byzantion mentions that the city has other less used names like Edonis and Cimmeria. 4 Aristoteles says Antandros has the name Hedonis due to the settlement of Thrakian rooted Hedonesians; and the name Cimmeria for the century long Cimmerian settlement. 5 In 8th century BC, Cimmerians, a Caucasian people, have run away from Scythian suppression and reached eastern Anatolia through Caucasian mountain pass. The Cimmerians first encountered with the Urartians and waged war against the Assyrians. The Assyrian king Rusa II reached an agreement with the Cimmerians and led them to central Anatolia. The Cimmerians took over Cappadokia and attacked Paphlagonia; they took over Sinope and attacked Phryg in 896/695 BC, the Phryg king Midas was defeated, and this lead to his death. Cimmerians than attacked Lydian state and were defeated by Gyges in 663 BC, but they again attacked Lydia in 652 BC and this time killed Gyges. After this date, some of these Cimmerians moved north and settled in Antandros. Kroisos, son of the Lydian king Alyattes ended Cimmerian reign over Antandros in 570 BC. Antandros fell under Persian rule, as did the whole Anatolia then, when Otanes, one of Persian king Dareios’ commanders took over the city.

Although the name of the city is not heavily mentioned in the ancient resources, it frequently takes place in the narrative of the Pelopnnes wars 431-404 BC between Athens and Sparta. At the first stages of war, information about Antandros comes from Thukydides. Athenians, upon taking over the Lesbos Island and the city of Mytilene there, sent a part of the people living in the city to exile. These people who were deported from Mytilene and other parts of Lesbos, supported by a group of mercenaries from Peloponnesos took over Antandros. Their plan was to build ships using Antandros’ proximity to Ida Mountain and the plenitude of related material there, and then to attack Lesbos and take it back. They also planned to take over other Aiol cities at the opposite shore 6

The story of the Lesbos exiles taking over Antandros has been fully told by Diodoros. He says as follows:

 A great number of exiles that escaped from the Athenean occupation of Lesbos were trying to return to their island, and they managed to take Antandros. Using this city as a base, they went on to fighting against the Athenians occupying Mytillini. 7

Lesbos, Mytilene Madalyon (MÖ 412-378)
Lesbos, Mytilene Medallion (MÖ 412-378)

But, short after the Lesbos exiles took Antandros, the Athenean fleet under Demodokos’ and Aristides’ command repossessed Antandros together with their allies. 8 The information regarding the date of this event can be obtained from the words of Thukydides in his book “War of Pelopnnesos”;

The same winter, as the Athenians were afraid that the people of Khios could revolt against them, they asked the people of Khios to demolish their newly built city walls, and so they did (in fact they had given hostage to the Athenians and promised they would make no changes in their laws). Winter came and the seventh year of the war told by Thukydides ended. 9

As seven years passed since the start of the war in 431 BC, the above mentioned developments must have taken place between 425/24 BC. Another factor supporting this chronology is Antandros’ accession to Attica Delos Sea League. Reference to Antandros was first made in the tax lists of the league in which the date and amount of the taxes paid were registered. Antandros was first registered with its 15 talents tax in 425 BC. The second time we come across Antandros in the said list is in 421 BC and with a payment of 8 talents. 10 Antandros’ accession to the league must have occurred due to its annexation to Athens together with Lesbos and Mytilene. Because, in the first stages of the war, after 425 BC, Antandros falls under Athenian rule and pays taxes to the league twice in 425 and 421 BC respectively. After that date, no reference of Antandros is seen in the registration lists. The reason to this might be that the war turned against Athens after the year 415 BC. Because, Akibiades who sought refuge with the Spartans after this year, makes expeditions to western Anatolia on behalf of the Spartans in 414/413 BC, and, as a result, takes Khios, Miletos and Mytilene out from the league. It is quite possible that Antandros as well is taken out from the league as of that year. Even if Antandros is not removed from the league then, the fact that it falls under the control of Persians in 410 BC (Persians kept a garrison under Arsekes command in Antandros between 410-408 BC) and that it becomes a Spartan supporter, would make its removal from the league natural development.

Peloponnesos Savaşı (MÖ 431 - 404)
Peloponnesos War (MÖ 431 - 404)

According to the information relayed by Ksenophon as to the second phase of the war; Athenan forces under the command of Alkibiades defeated the Peloponnesos forces under Mindaros’ command at Kyzikos in 410 BC. Upon this defeat, Persian satrap Pharnabazos hands money to all brigades of Pelopnnesos and all their allies and sends them to Antandros to build new ships instead of the ones they lost in the war. During the ship building, Syrakusaians helped them with the repair of the city walls. They also won the approval of the Antandros people with their devotion on guard duty. Thus, Antandros granted the Syrakusaians citizenship. 11 Ksenophon further tells that Athenean forces under Alkibiades’ rule lays siege to Byzantion in 409 BC. The Spartan harmost (military governor) Klearhos and his allies from Megara and Boiotia stand there. Klearhos, after taking necessary precautions for the defence of the city, crosses the sea and meets Pharnabazos in an effort to get his soldier’s payments, so that he can gather his ships scattered in Hellespontos sea and in Trakia, can have new ships built for him in Antandros; and finally lift the Athenean siege over Byzantion with the fleet he would form thereto. But, the Atheneans succeed in taking the city over with the help of their collaborators. 12 Alongside these events, we get information from Thukydides and Diodoros about a different development taking place in Antandros. Both writers mention an incident concerning the Persian garrison stationed in Antandros under Arsakes’ command during 410-408 BC. Commander Arsakes collects high taxes and this agitates the Antandros people. So, in order to get rid of this garrison they ask Lakedaimons to send troops to Antandros, and upon this, Hoplites come from Abydos to their aid and send the Persians away. 13

Starting from this year, the historians start referring to Antandros while talking about the events that lead to the finale of Pelopnnesos war. According to Ksenopon; Spartan king Lysanros comes to Ephesos in 407 BC. He sends for his scattered troops and sets to build ships. 14 And then, the Spartans win the wars against the Atheneans and they also become triumphant in the Peloponnesos war.

Antandros is also mentioned in Ksenophon’ work Anabasis. Ksenophon, on his way to join Tibron’s army, writes about the places he passes and he says (about Antandros);

 They moved from there, through Troy and reached Antandros over the Ida Mountain and then, they continued the coast line and reached the Thebe plains. 15

When Alexander the great took over Anatolia in 4th century BC, Antandros was also freed from Persian satrap Daskyleion’s rule. And, as a free state, it re-starts pressing coins in the second half of the 4th century. At the time of Pergamon king Eumenes the 2nd, the Magnesia war was waged between him and the Syrian king Antiokhos the 3rd. The war ended with the defeat of Antiokhos and the Apammeia peace treaty was signed in 189 BC. The western Anatolian lands evacuated by the Syrian troops in accordance with that treaty were divided between Pergamon and Rhodes by the Romans. And all the western Anatolian land north of Maiandros was given to the kingdom of Pergamon. 16 Antandros was under the control of the Pergamon kingdom for a certain period of time, but it is all very probable that it completely became a part of it after the said treaty. 17 And when the Romans enter Anatolia, Antandros fell under the rule of the Romans like all of Anatolia. Antandros even turned into a patriarchate centre during the Christian period.

Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander (MS 222-235) dönemine ait Antandros’ta basılan madalyon.

Medallion pressed in Antandros during Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander era (222-235 AC). On its front face we see a left side profile of Severus Alexander, on its back face we see Aeneid leaving Antandros with his father Anchises over his shoulder and his son Askanius on his side. Under the images we see the writing ‘ANTANΔPIΩN’.

It is understood that the people fleeing from the Arab raids in the Middle Age, settled in a steep cliff surrounded by a defensive wall, a place today called Şahin Kale (falcon castle). The residential area was transferred to the centre of the old village (today’s Altınoluk) in 16th century and the settlement which became a patriarchate got the name Papazlık (priesthood).

Prof. Dr. Gürcan POLAT

Ege University Faculty of Letters, Department of Classical Archaeology