Thursday, 15 August 2013

Take A Walk With Me

This blog is the continuation of http://priene-turkey.blogspot.com/
HOUSES OF PRIENE
Priene was said to have had a population of around 6000 people in homes arranged in compact city blocks, with all the public buildings within walking distance.  The majority of the houses were situated at this end of the city. There was another large area of housing situated over the ridge to our left as we look back up West Gate Street, which we will visit later.
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It is said that the main style of houses here were that of blocks made up of four houses with a courtyard in the centre, which would have contained a well. Vegetables and herbs would also have been grown here.  The houses would not have had doors and windows opening out onto the street but would have opened out into the courtyard.  Access to the houses from the street would have been by a long corridor.
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On a recent visit to the site, I was able to have a chat with a group of Archaeologists working on this part of the site.  They had made the discovery of the foot print of a much larger house than had first been discovered here. Where as most of the blocks of four houses shared a modest courtyard the evidence uncovered was showing this one house to have a much larger courtyard, as you can see in the pictures below.
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Here you can see some of the rooms which surround the courtyard.
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They have also found evidence of what appears to have been an older bathhouse.  It is a little difficult to see as they had only just started to excavate the area, but you can just about make out a large circular structure in the foreground of the picture below, with a smaller circular structure in the top right of the picture, which they said could have been the fire that heated the bath.  I asked them why they thought it was older than the house?  They said it was because they could see where stone had been robbed from the bathhouse to build the large house.
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The other reason for suspecting that this was a bathhouse is because the rooms leading from it all have wet floors, made up of small stones, as seen below.
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On one of our visits we noticed a small path on the map, to our left as we stand looking up West Gate Street, which takes you through some of the house blocks on this side.  The picture below shows an overhead shot of some of the interior walls of one of the blocks of houses along this path.  You can clearly see several door openings and rooms.
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The houses would have been constructed of mud and rubble with the street side walls dressed with square stone blocks.  The doors and windows would have been of various shapes and sizes.  The lower parts of some of the walls would have been plastered with stucco (a mixture of lime, sand and water) to give the appearance of marble.
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Here you can still see an area of the stucco on one of the walls.
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When I took the photo below, in October, there were Archaeologists on site and you can see where they have been excavating the floor of one of the rooms in the house.
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This quite substantial item had obviously been discovered during their excavations and had been pieced back together.  It looks like a base to something but what.....?
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The largest room in each house would have been the guest room, which always faced south and was accessed  by an entrance hall from the courtyard.  Next to the guest room was generally two bedrooms.  Cooking and bathing facilities were off the courtyard and were shared by the four houses.
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As you wander in and out of the various rooms you come across interesting features.  Here you can see a small square hole carefully edged with long stones in the back wall of this room.
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To me this looks like it could have been a basin.  It is laying upside down, showing the square shape that would have been slotted into a pedestal and the pieces of stone around made up the rim.
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Here we are opposite the Synagogue at one of the blocks of houses which again has only recently had some fresh excavations carried out.
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On top of one of the walls I found a couple of pieces of pot.  You can see a small piece of design that possibly ran around the shoulder of the pot.
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Here you can see some more pieces of pot as well as pieces of animal bone.
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We have now gone as far along this upper path as we can and so now make our way down the steps back onto West Gate Street.
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Here is another piece of a carved stone, which in part one of my blog I discovered may be part of a cannon ball.  I have read that it was common in Turkey for cannon balls to be made from stone from abandoned villages and cities the work was carried out on site.  So it is possible that this may be part of one that did not make the grade.
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Here you can see several building blocks we have been catalogued by the Archaeologists.
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WATER GATE STREET
Running behind the Meat and Fish Market and the houses to the right of West Gate Street as you look back up the hill can be found part of Watergate Street, along this street can be seen some more houses and items relating to them.
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Here you can see the steps that take you from the level of the Meat and Fish Market down to the level of Water Gate Street.
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Here you can see what looks like another item of drainage with holes and channels cut out around the edges.
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I have read that Priene was ahead of its time with regards to its water systems and this appears very evident with the amount of drainage channels and pipework that can be found.
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Here you can see some more pieces of pot and what looks like a piece of mosaic.
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There are at least a couple of these that I have found, that I think may be part of the fountains that were dotted around the City.
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Here is one of the paths that connect Water Gate Street with West Gate Street.
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You can see that Water Gate Street was a narrower street compared to West Gate Street.
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I had mentioned previously on our walk where there had been a fire on the site, in these last few photos you can see where the trees had been damaged by the fire.
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BOULEUTERION
We will now continue to our left, back up West Gate Street , to the Sacred Stoa, at the far end we find the Bouleuterion which is also opposite the Prytaneion.
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The Bouleuterion was a building where the Council of Citizens (who were called the Boule) assembled to discuss public affairs.  The last part of the word 'terion' means place for doing something, in Greek.
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The Demos (the common people of Priene) would meet in the Theatre (being the largest building in the city to hold everyone), once a year.  They would then elect the Boule of up to 640 persons, who would then meet in the Bouleuterion.
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The building was accessed through the Sacred Stoa and had seating around three sides.  There are stairs located in each of the rear corners to gain access to the upper areas.  The front of the Bouleuterion had two main doors, in between these was a niche which was said to contain a desk.
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In the exact centre of the Bouleuterion is the altar.  It is made of marble and was decorated with busts of Gods, bulls heads, laurel leaves and wreaths.  The altar is said to date to around the 2nd Century BCE.
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It is reported that a fire, sometime between 400 AD and 1000 AD, burned the Bouleuterion's wooden roof and caused its ceramic tiles to fall.  This resulted in a protective barrier over the site which makes this one of the best preserved buildings in Priene.
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TEMPLE OF ATHENA
We now have a choice, we can either come out of the Bouleuterion on West Gate Street, turn to our left and walk back up the street past the Prytaneion to the crossroads where we entered the site (to where the map of the site is locate) or we can climb up the steps in the corners of the Bouleuterion and come out on Athena Street to the most impressive sight in Priene.
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The Temple of Athena was built in the 4th Century BCE, in honour of the city's patron goddess.  The Temple construction was said to be financed and supervised by Alexander The Great, when he occupied the city.  It was built by Pytheos, the architect of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
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The Temple has been constructed on a natural rise in the rock and resting on a large three stepped platform, which still remains today, although it is difficult to see as it is littered with pieces of column and other blocks of the Temple.
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The Temple had a porch at the rear.  This had never appeared in previous temples of this type, but was used as a model for later Temples.
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The Temple consisted of 11 columns along its length and 6 columns along its width and was known as a 'peripteros' type temple (a temple surrounded by a portico with a single layer of columns).  When English archaeologists arrived in the 1860's some of the Temple walls were still standing, over 1.5 metres/5 feet in some places.  The columns that can be seen standing today, were re-erected in modern times, but are at least 3 metres/10 feet shorter than they would have been.
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There was a gold and ivory statue of Athena in the cellar of the Temple, the cellar being the inner part of a Temple where the statues of Gods or Goddesses would be housed.
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Here you can see a set of steps which takes you from the Temple down to the Stadium and Lower Gymnasium.
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There was an inscription on a tablet found in the temple which read, 'King Alexander has dedicated this Temple to Athena Polins.'
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Inscriptions have been found on the architraves from the Temple and Alter indicating that the Temple was dedicated to the Emperor Augustus as well as Athena.
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The Altar, situated to the east of the Temple, according to findings, was erected in the mid 2nd Century BCE with the financial support of Orophernes, King of Cappadocia.  The building was a horseshoe shape, and surrounded by a portico with columns, between which stood figures of women on high pedestals.  Part of the building where offerings were received was approached by a flight of stairs.
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The propylaeum (porch) located to the east of the Temple, is believed to have been built during the reign of Augustus.  This monumental gateway, of which the front stairs and part of the south wall are still standing, was connected to the street in front.
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Here you can see where some of the porch stones have been re-erected in modern times.
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Here you can see what looks like the post holes and runners for some hefty looking doors or gates.
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Here you can get a feel of the scale and amount of material used to produce the columns.
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Here you can see some more of the carved pieces of stone.
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Here you can see some of the carvings that would have been on the top of the columns.
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WILDLIFE
As I have said before, I love catching glimpses of wildlife around the site, especially if you are lucky enough to pick a day when there are not too many other visitors and the site is quiet.  Recently on a trip at the beginning of November we saw several tortoises and lizards, all making the most of the winter sunshine (it was a particularly lovely day for the time of year, around 23c/73f out of the wind).
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The lizard below seems to be part of the Laudakia Stellis - Stellion Lizard family that I have a photo of earlier in this blog, but was smaller and had a browner colour to it.
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If you have never seen a lizard in the wild before, this should soon be rectified after a visit to Priene.  Here are a couple more, another Laudakia Stellis and a very small Common Lizard, which I nearly trod on because he was so well camouflaged.
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We also caught sight of a squirrel, although unfortunately I was not quick enough with my camera.  I did manage to get a slightly blurry shot of (I think) a weasel, which had its sights set on a group of Jays which had come to rest under a tree.
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UPPER GYMNASIUM
We will now head back along the path back to the crossroads where we entered the site and turn to our left where we are walking along the base of the wall of the Upper Gymnasium, which can be seen in the photo below.
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There is a stone positioned on the path just up ahead where you can climb up to enter into the Gymnasium, which on the map appears to show one of the original entrances, although there is little actual evidence of this today.
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The Upper Gymnasium was used to educate the younger boys in the theory behind the various athletic disciplines before they embarked on the physical side. They would then progress on to the Lower Gymnasium once they became young men.
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It is said that the Upper Gymnasium was built in the 4th Century BCE and has been altered considerably over the years.
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In the next picture you can see an arch which is part of the rear wall, and is the most intact part of the Upper Gymnasium.  The arch goes into what would have been a long arched corridor and more parts of this can be seen in the next couple of pictures.
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As you make your way to the back right corner of the Upper Gymnasium you get a feel for how large the remaining standing walls are and how impressive this building must have looked.
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I have read that a small Roman bath was added to the Northwest corner of the Upper Gymnasium complex, somewhere where we are standing at the moment.  At some stage it burnt down and was replaced in Byzantium times with a chapel.
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I have probably said this before, but I will say it again, every time you visit make sure to look in all the nooks and crannies, you never know what you will find!  Archaeologists had been in and had uncovered some wall plaster.
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We are now at the far right hand corner of the Upper Gymnasium where you can see what looks like a floor area.
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We will now make our way back out of the Upper Gymnasium the way we came, back on to the street.  We will then turn to our left and continue to the corner of Theatre Street, here you get to see a good view of the outer wall containing the Upper Gymnasium.
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HEROON OF BIAS
Just before we head off down Theatre Street, I just want to pause for a moment and mention this Heroon, which is documented as having been somewhere in this area.  I am still trying to find out a bit more about it but this is what I have so far.....
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The Heroon was a single chambered tomb, dating to the time of Christ and was the only tomb from antiquity found in the city, but sadly long-since looted.  I have also found reference to a temple being consecrated to Bias called a Teutamium, at this stage I can only assume that they are one of the same.
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It was for Bias, a resident of Priene and one of the Seven Wise Men.  More details of Bias can be found in part 1 of my blog http://priene-turkey.blogspot.com/ under 'Notable People'. 
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THEATRE STREET
In the photo below, we are standing in front of the wall in the centre of the picture, behind the tree.
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Again here you can see more evidence of recent Archaeological excavations.  The next two photos were taken a eleven months apart with the oldest first followed by the more recent.  Here you can see purpose built recesses in the wall and also drainage pipes in the second photo.
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As we look across to the wall on the other side of the street as we walk towards the theatre you get another good view of how impressive the walls of the city must have looked when they were all standing.  It always amazes me how tightly they managed to get the joints on these hefty pieces of stone.  
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Here you can see another example of some of the drainage work found around the site.  Again I had not see this on other visits, so it must have been recently discovered.
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We will now carry along Theatre Street and enter the Theatre itself.
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THEATRE
We have entered the Theatre from the entrance in the top left corner of the shot below.
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The Theatre is said to have been constructed in the 4th Century BCE and is said to be one of the finest examples of a Hellenistic (post classical Greek history), Theatre still in existence.  The Theatre itself consisted of a horseshoe shaped area at ground level , made up of pressed earth, just as you can see today, called the Orchestra, where the acting would take place and then in later times where the musicians would sit, hence them being referred to as the Orchestra. The Skene which sits at the back of the Orchestra was originally designed to be a room for changing costumes but later became part of the backdrop for the action being played out. 
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The Theatre has around 50 tiers of seating for 5000 people, this area was known as the Cavea.
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In the beginning 2nd Century BCE a Proskene (a raised acting area) was constructed in front of the Skene.  Both floors of this Proskene contained 3 rooms each.
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It is said that these stage buildings underwent big changes in the Roman Period and were rebuilt incorporating two side entrances between the stage buildings and the seating areas, known as Paradoes.  At the base of the walls supporting the seating, where the Paradoes enter the Theatre on both sides can be seen the remains of square bases of stone.  Bronze statues once stood on these bases, sculptured by Cleandrus.  They were dedicated to the god of Zeus and the people of Priene.
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The next picture shows the base of a Clepsydra (water clock).  Used to allocate time to the performers or speakers as it was also common for the Theatres to be used for mass gatherings of the towns people.  When the Clepsydra's water had all drained away, time was up. As yet I have not been able to establish what was placed on top of this base or what it looked like.
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Around the base of the Cavea can be seen an alter and 5 marble seats, although 1 of them has been removed and only its base remains.  These seats were reserved for prominent people on the City Government.  There was an inscription found on the back of one of the seats saying "Nisyos, Son of Diplios, who was in charge of Agonothesia, consecrated this throne to Dionysos".
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The alter was used for sacrificing animals to Dionysus, God of Wine and Theatre.  An inscription was found in connection with the alter stating "We are selling the priesthood of Dionysos Phileas on the following conditions".
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Right, I hope you have taken the opportunity to have a rest while we have been in the Theatre, having your photo taken sitting in one of the marble seats, "is the thing to do"!  Because we are about to make our way up the tiers of seats to the grass area at the top to make our climb upto the Temple of Demeter.  If you make your way up the first set of steps to your left as you stand with your back to the stage buildings you will see a small dirt pathway winding its way up the mountain side.
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TEMPLE OF DEMETER AND KORE
It is a long way up here, but you get a great sense of achievement once you reach the temple, one because a lot of visitors never get to see it because of the climb up or be cause they just don't realise that it is here.  The other is the spectacular views you get from up here, we are now standing on a terrace, with the steep slopes of the mountain towering above us.
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Demeter is the Greek Goddess of the harvest, presiding over grains, fertility of the earth and the seasons.  She was also known as the Goddess who presided over the sanctity of marriage, sacred law and the cycle of life and death.  Kore was her daughter with Zeus and was known as the Goddess of vegetation.
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We are now standing at the entrance to the Temple which would have had two statues either side of the doorway, one in bronze of the Priestess Timonassa and the other in marble of the Priestess Nikesso.  Both of these statues can be seen at the Pergamum Museum in Berlin, Germany.
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The centre of the site would have been dominated by a large courtyard.  The rubble to the left of the picture is where two small houses were situated.
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In front of us we can see the remains of a small temple.  The temple would have had 2 columned porches with plain Doric columns and 3 doors leading to the bothros (a pit often used for garbage or to give offerings to the underworld), a cellar and small rooms which can be seen to the right of the temple in these pictures.
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The next two pictures show what I think is documented as a large sacrificial pit (1.8m square by 2m deep) made of ashlar blocks.  Animal blood would be used as offerings to the Goddess and would have been gathered in the sacrificial pit.
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Several naked female votive statuettes with their heads fixed directly atop of their legs and holding torches in both hands, were found between the pit and temple.  Votives are objects designed as offerings.
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Tucked away between some pieces of stone I came across this carved stone showing a cross surrounded by a double circle.
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Here you can just make out the columns of the Temple of Athena, peeking out from the tree tops, which helps give you a perspective of just how high up we are.
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A small alter was said to have been situated on this side, with a spectacular sight of the valley below.
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WATER BASIN
Even as we stand admiring the view and appreciating just how high up we are there is still one more part of City above us on a natural plateau.
Above us it is said can be found the site of the Water Basin which collected water, which was then transported down to the City via an aqueduct which passed through the north east city wall, funnelling the water to a series of three settling pools, from these it passed through ceramic pipes to fountains throughout the City.  The treatment basins stonework is said to date to the Hellenistic Period and the mortar walls are of Byzantine date.
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We will now make our way back down to the Theatre and across the street to the Byzantine Church.
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BYZANTINE CHURCH
Priene's biggest church the Metropolis Cathedral can be seen across the street from the Theatre, it was built in the 6th Century BCE.
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The Church has a 'narthex' (entrance or lobby to the Church) located at the end of the nave, opposite the Church's main alter.  Pictured at the bottom of the above picture.
It would have been either an indoor area separated from the nave by a door or screen or an external porch.  The Church had three aisles separated by two rows of ten columns each, it is documented that these were robbed from the Upper Gymnasium.  I have also read where the flooring in the Church was robbed from the Temple of Athena.
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The next three photos shows part of an 'ambo' or 'pulpit'.
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Even now the carving on the pulpit looks impressive, I would love to have seen it at its prime.
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The Altar would have been separated from the Church by the Chancel Screen, part of which can be seen in the next photo.
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If we now exit the Church from the Altar end we will make our way to the second area of housing to be found in Priene.  Again this is another area that most visitors don't get to see, ok it is not a very exciting part of the site, but it is tucked down in a bit of a dip so it does give you an appreciation of how the City is made up of terraces.
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THEATRE STREET Continued
As soon as you walk down the small steps to the lower terrace you will already see how different this area of housing looks from the other side.  For a start there is no impressive looking street running down the middle, just small pathways and no drainage channels.
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One thing you can see over this side are several doorways, some of them have pillars either side, but whether these should be here, or whether they have been placed here during some of the earlier excavations, I am not sure.
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Could this be a pedestal to a wash basin?
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Seeing how vivid the colour is on this piece of wall plaster gives you a real sense of how colourful the walls must have been when freshly painted.
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Here you can see another substantial piece of wall.
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Could this be a type of sink, there appears to be a hole where the water would have entered at the top and a drainage hole in the corner?
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I have read that Priene has several fountains dotted around the City because of the advanced water system that it had, could this be part of one?
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Here you can see some more carved text.  The holes in the top of the stone look like it could have been the base for a statue.
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FLORA AND FAUNA
We will stop again for a short while and have a look at some more of the flora and fauna.  This is quite an impressive looking mushroom, I am not an expert on mushrooms so have no idea what it is, but I would not like to eat it!!
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Even some of the green weeds make good photos with their structural looks.
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I took a photo of these bulb like plants in winter, I really must try and remember to look out for them in spring or summer, as they look like they are going to have a flower.
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Just because we are taking photos of ruins doesn't mean to say that you don't get the chance to get some arty shots of the flora and fauna, these are always an added bonus.
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SANCTUARY TO EGYPTIAN GODS
As you walk back down Theatre Street towards the Sanctuary To Egyptian Gods the first thing you see is a lot of stone laying around.
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I have read where this Sanctuary was built by the Ptolemies, these were the final dynasty of Egyptian Pharaohs.  I wondered where they fit into the history of Priene, the only reference I have found so far is that a man named Antiochus who was a Ptolemaic official was in Priene for a time due to a dispute with the Greek Island of Samos located just off the coast, over some land some time during the 3rd Century BCE.
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Inscriptions have been found naming Isis, Sarapis and Anubis as some the gods being worshipped.  There have also been found some fragmented inscriptions detailing cult law and festivals.
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Here you can see where some more excavation works have been carried out in the area of the Sanctuary to Egyptian Gods.
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Now the question I find myself asking is "does this wall go down below ground or are we not standing on a true ground level, but one that has been made up over time?"
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Again here you can see the tight joints between the blocks and unusually the blocks are a variety of different sizes and some are quite small.  Does this suggest a much later wall?
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Here you can see a variety of pieces of roof tile, and drainage pipe that have been unearthed from the excavation.
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Here you can see a length of pipework that has been unearthed.
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We will now head back down the street past the Upper Gymnasium until we come to the cross roads where we first entered the site, with the main notice board, and head back down the steps.  Here we will now turn to our left down East Gate Street and head down towards the Main Gate.
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MAIN GATE (OSTTHOR)
We now come to the Main Gate, which always amazes me as it is on one of the narrowest steepest roads on the site.  This Gate had a stone tower on each side connected with a vaulted arch.
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If you look carefully down at the road beneath your feet you can make out what appear to be cart wheel tracks worn into the stone.
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Just beyond the gate on the outside of the city you can see a couple of strange arched structures, I am still trying to find out what these are.
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And that is it, we are now back at the car park.  I do hope you have enjoyed our walk.  Please keep an eye on these blogs as we will continue to return and I hope to discover more to photograph and more information to add about the site.  But for now have a safe journey home. xx