Clarke, Joseph Thacher ; Bacon, Francis H. ; Koldewey, Robert
Investigations at Assos: expedition of the Archaeological Institute of America ; drawings and photographs of the buildings and objects discovered during the excavations of 1881, 1882, 1883 (Part I - V) — London, 1902-1921

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INVESTIGATIONS AT ASSOS


'I’he auditorium at Assos was most conveniently planned.
Two vaulted passages led to the lower diazoma, while the
promenade at the top must have opened directly into the street
leading down from the Agora. The vaulted chamber leading
into the western Parodos was evidently once used as a latrine,
while that at the east may have been a cistern. In the east-
ern Parodos were some bases for inscribed steles, but it was a
great disappointment that no inscriptions relating to the Theatre
were found. At the western end of the orchestra balustrade
was found a post with a sculptured figure or Hermes on the
face (Fig. 1). The adjoining block of the balustrade had a
large flat shield carved upon it. In Roman times the orches-
tra had evidently been enlarged by cutting away the first row of
seats, and a new balustrade put in (Page 1 27, Fig. 1 ). A shal-
low stone gutter 50 cm. wide ran around the outer edge of the
orchestra. On the outside of the gutter was a double row of
deeply cut mortice-holes (see Page 135, Fig. ij, and it
was some time before their use could be conjectured. Mr.
Koldewey finally suggested that they were made in late Roman
times for erecting a wooden barricade, in order to protect the
spectators when the theatre had been turned into a place for
wild-beast combats. In the degenerate days of Greece, jug-
glers and dancers exhibited their tricks in the theatre1 and in
late Roman times the place once devoted to the highest po-
etry and dramatic art was filled with a degenerate populace
eagerly watching the combats of gladiators or the fighting of
wild beasts. In fact the vanquished gladiators were sometimes
actually butchered almost on the laps of the spectators, who
sat in the front row, as is related by Dio Chrysostom2 : —
“ And Athenians in thg theatre behold this noble spectacle right
under the acropolis itself, where they set up Dionysos in the orches-
tra, so that many a time a man is slaughtered right among the high
chairs where the chief priest and his assistants must sit.”
The sites of the theatres in towns of Asia Minor were always
most picturesquely chosen and must have been laid out by men
of great artistic perception and feeling. The theatre at Assos
was a beautiful place of assemblage. It is placed directly be-
low the open part of the Agora (see Plan, Page 21 ), so that
persons leaning over the balustrade of the market-place above
could look directly down into the audience and on the stage.
The view from the seats is superb, with the sea below and
the mountains of Mitylene directly opposite. One has even
to-day a peculiar feeling of enjoyment in sitting in one of these
ruined auditoriums,such asat Ephesus, Assos, or Priene. There
is a perfect and unobstructed view of orchestra and stage, and a
speaker below can be heard with ease.

1 Athenaeum I, p. 19, e; Alc'rphron^ III, 20.
2 Or. XXXI, Vol. 1, p. 386.

ASSOS IN 1904
Since the description of Assos by an eye-witness like Pro-
kesch von Osten has been found of interest, an account of the
Editor’s visit to the site in June, 1904, may here be inserted.
It is taken from a journal letter : —
Thymbra Farm, June 26, 1904.
“ Having just returned from Assos, I must try and give you some
impression of my visit to our old site, where, after an absence of over
twenty years, it was a great pleasure to sit once more under the plane-
tree at the little port and greet all the old Turkish and Greek friends.
I left the Dardanelles in the little Greek coasting steamer, with bags,
saddle and camera, intending to return on horse-back across the Troad
from Assos. After touching at Tenedos, we reached towards evening
Molivo, at the northern end of Mitylene, where I went for the night
to Janko Photiades’ house, and we spent the evening in talking over
old times at Assos.
The next morning I engaged a Greek boatman to carry me over
to Assos, and the wind being very light and contrary we only reached
Behram, the port of Assos, at 4.30 p.m.
It was an interesting moment as I landed. The Turks and Greeks
gathered around to see what stranger had arrived. “ Kalos orisete!”
“ Hosh geldin!” (welcome). Ali, our old cafeji, was there and was
delighted to see me, and I asked after all the friends in the village, many
of whom are dead. Sukuru Bey, the old customs officer, claims me as
his dearest friend, and we drink many coffees. There are several new
houses built at the Port, all of ancient fragments. The Mole has been
enlarged, and many stumps of columns from the Stoa have been set as
mooring posts. I finally get away from the hospitable circle for a run
on the hill before sunset, and hurry up the old steep road past the
theatre — now all enclosed as a goat-shelter. Great damage has been
done since we were here : stones broken and carried off, and much
earth washed down from the Agora plateau, which is now quite ruined,
the Stoa all smashed, and the Bouleuterion also turned into a goat-
enclosure. I walk around the Acropolis, above the Stoa, to the gate
in the western wall, and once more see the glorious view over the sea
to Mitylene ; then on through the Street of Tombs, now more in
ruins than ever, the monuments all broken and smashed. The people
are evidently using the place as a quarry, as newly dressed lintels and
sills made from old sarcophagi are lying about on the ground ready to
be carried off on camels to the surrounding villages. I make my way to
the large sarcophagus of Makedonos, overlooking the river valley. It
was a lovely, still evening, and I had often sat there before.
The sun was setting behind Leeton, with Mt. Ida clear and pur-
ple at the east. Sounds of talking and laughter of children rose from the
river-valley, whence donkeys were coming laden with jars of water for
the village. Friendly Turks stop to greet me. “Hosh geldin!”
“Hosh bulduk!” One old man remembers me, and I recognize him.
I ask after all our old workmen whose names slip into mind as though
I had never left the place, and 1 feel very much at home. Down the
steep road again to the port, and then along the shore for a bath in
the sea. I find the old spot we had prepared as our bathing place still
intact, and after scaring away a small octopus, I take the plunge.
How good it tastes ! and my head is full of old memories as I swim
in the twilight. Back to the port and stop at a cafe kept by Theo-
dori, one of our old workmen, who is so glad to see me that I have to
take a mastika with him of course. I remember quite well his face
and peculiar lisp. I find I am to sup and lodge with Kurios Joanni,
a relative of our old friend Hagi Christos. He has a fine room and
balcony overlooking the sea, and I have a good supper with coffee
and cigarettes afterwards on the moonlit quay. Then a clean bed is
spread on the floor, and I turn in pleasantly tired and glad above
all that I haven’t got to survey this old city again, for the steep cliffs
are appalling. The next morning I was up early to go over the ruins
before the heat of the day. On reaching the Agora plateau there is a
friendly hail from a Turk descending the hill; it is Ahmet Soujis,
our old friend, with a chanak full of fresh goats’ milk for me. Delighted
at meeting, we recall old times in very broken Turkish on my part. He
is dressed in his best clothes, and announces that he has come to bear
me company and hold the camera and umbrella just as he used to do
years ago.
My first point is the so-called Baths, to see those all-important
lintels : and fortunately one block is lying above ground, having es-
caped the recent devastation. There seems to be little doubt that the
slots were for wooden shutters, intended to be easily put down and up.
The small holes, just the size of a lead-pencil, must have been for bronze
hooks. The large jambs in front of the lower cistern have been thrown
down, and many of the blocks which we left on the surface have been
carried off. The gray Acropolis stone soon looks old and weathered,
and even the walls we uncovered now look as old and weather-beaten
as the rest. It is fortunate we measured these buildings and blocks
when we did, as the ancient walls are disappearing fast: every frag-
ment of marble is burnt up into lime. After photographing the block
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