Clazomenae

A small island connected to the mainland by a raised causeway across the water, roughly twenty-five miles from Izmir, traveling south along the bay, is the Clazomenae of ancient Ionia. It is included in the Panionian League of the twelve organized cities of Ionia as cited by Herodotus and is thought to have been settled in the ninth or tenth century B.C.

Throughout history, the territory of Clazomenae has been known for the purgative quality of its magnesium springs. The visitor to the area can find facilities to enjoy refreshing bathing to help recover from the summer heat and dust of the road. Take the road toward Çe?me from Izmir. The island is found near the village of Urla. Its Turkish name, taken after the original is Kla-zümen.
 

HISTORY OF CLAZOMENAE


The Clazomenians, coming from and under the sponsorship of Athens, as were the rest of the Ionian settlers of Asia Minor, first built their city on the mainla'nd. The exact spot of the original site is not clear, however. The geographer and historian Strabo refers to a location in the area named Chyrion with regard to the Clazo-menian settlers. Other references to these early people name the site as Chytron or Chyton.

This has all resulted in a mystery for scholars, because the spelling of the word makes a difference as to the probable location. The most likely spot is in the area southwest of Urla village. Numerous sherds have been found to give evidence of a sustained occupation here. Large numbers of painted sarcophagi made of terracotta were uncovered in the area of Clazo-menian territory and are thought to be peculiar to Clazomenae. Examples of these can be seen at the Archaeological Museum at Izmir.

They have been dated as being from the sixth century and older. Another puzzle to students of the period is the fact that the Clazomenians purportedly defeated the Lydian King Alyattes in the sixth century after his victory at Smyrna. No substantial fortification walls have been found in the area, and nothing more than a low hill as a possible citadel site. It is supposed that the Clazomenians later moved to the off-shore island out of fear of the approaching Persian armies. As far as Ionian cities are concerned, Clazomenae was one of the later cities to be built.

The ancient traveler Pausanias, living and writing in the second century A.D., noted that the people who finally came to inhabit Clazomenae were latecomers from Athens who first stopped at Colophon before moving over to the coast. The date of the move from the mainland to the island is thought to be connected with that of the Ionian revolt of 500-494 B.C. The sherds at Chytron give evidence to a settlement there only until the sixth century.


Clazomenae was noted for its merchant marine fleet and is said to have given the Phoenecians competition. The causeway joining the island with the mainland was not constructed until much later in the city's history, for Clazomenae was always referred to as an island city during the fifth century. According to Pliny the Elder, who wrote his Natural History in the first century A.D., the island was first joined to the mainland by order of Alexander the Great.

This would have been sometime during the end of the fourth century Q c. The island could not have been very prosperous by the standards of other cities in Ionia. As a member of the Delian League formed by Athens in the fifth century B.C. for the protection of the Ionian cities, the tribute paid by Clazomenae was a mere pittance. During the Peloponnesian War in 431, between Athens and Sparta, however, the tribute was raised considerably to help meet the cost of Athens' logistics. The heavy burden of this tax may have been what prompted the citizens of Clazomenae, under the instigation of Sparia, to break away from Athens shortly afterwards. The Clazomenians built defenses on the mainland to stop the inevitable retaliation of Athens, but were soon forced back onto the island. When the Persians came, Clazomenae was put under their control by the peace treaty signed in 386 B.C. by Greece and Persia. The situation remained stable until the coming of Alexander the Great a century later.


Clazomenae produced two famous philosophers: Anaxagoras, who was a physicist, was prosecuted for impiety when he propounded the theory that the sun was a mass of red hot stone. He was saved from the same fate that Socrates met with by one of his former pupils, Pericles. The other Clazomenian philosopher, Scopelianus, was a sophist who lived five hundred years later. It was during this period that the Roman Emperor Domitian decreed that the growing of grapes, as today probably the only money crop of the lonians, be discontinued. A representative was sent to Rome and succeeded in dissuading the emperor from being too hasty with the lonians. The law was changed, in fact, to make it an offense not to cultivate grape vines.
 


RUINS OF CLAZOMENAE

Little has been left untouched in the area of Clazomenae in the way of ruins and remains of the ancients. The causeway thought to have been built in the fourth century B.C. is still in evidence alongside the modern one. This extends some seven hundred yards from the mainland. Submerged remains of the harbor on the west side and the ancient quay on the north end can be seen.

The spot that was once a theater is found on the side of the north hill. The stones have since been removed. A cave, apparently used by the ancients for religious purposes, is located near the south-west corner, not far from the shore. This originally was composed of four chambers, but during excavations, all but one of them caved in. The roof of the main chamber is about five feet high and is supported by columns cut from the rock. A well is inside which was probably the source of holy water. A site dated as having been inhabited before the Greeks is found about a quarter of a mile to the left of the causeway. The low acropolis, supposedly dating to the Archaic period, is behind the Urla village harbor at a distance of less than a mile.

 

Leave a Reply