The ancient city of Lebedos, one of the twelve Ionian cities, was renowned for culture and the arts. Little exists to be seen at the site in the way of standing ruins with the exception of the Hellenistic fortifications. The site has yet to be excavated. It is found on the Kisik Peninsula, near the village of Ürkmez. The area is most easily accessible by boat from S??ac?k.


The city of Lebedos was never one of great consequence because of its poor natural situation Its harbor was not such that a heavy maritime industry could be developed. The important ports of Ephesus and Teos precluded much chance of any financial success for Lebedos. The city was originally occupied by the Carians and, later, by the lonians. The city was situated on a peninsula and was cut off landward from trade by Kolophon and Teos. Therefore, its wealth would have had to have come from the sea.

As a result of its unfortunate location, Lebedos lived a humble and quiet life. She produced no famous citizens, and never led colonies abroad as did most of the other Ionian cities. The city provided no ships for the Battle of Lade in 494 B.C. in which the Ionian fleet was defeated by the Persians, and Lebedos was the only city in Ionia which never struck any coins during the Classical period. Several attempts were made in Hellenistic times to redistribute the population of Lebedos in other cities. Lysimachus is said to have moved numbers of them to Ephesus which was newly built at the time. Despite these incidents, Lebedos survived and, in 266 B.C., came under the rule of Ptolemy of Egypt. It thus aquired the name of Ptolemais which it retained for sixty years.

The city of Lebedos, for a period, was the seat of the famed Artists of Dionysus. The artists were religious figures as well as being actors, musicians and the like. Their religious duties conferred the right of asylum on the city in which they lived. Despite this advantage, their artistic temperament had made them unpopular and they quarrelled with each of their previous host cities, namely Teos, Ephesus and Myonnesus. Eventually, in the second century, they ended up at Lebedos. They were welcomed in this humble town as an increase in manpower and for the importance the artists would add to the town. There they stayed until Mark Anthony moved them to Prienne for the entertainment of Cleopatra. Lebedos con¬tinued to exist and minted coins until the end of the second century B.C.


Since the site has not been excavated, the ruins to be seen are few. The Hellenistic wall is still well-preserved in places and is seven feet thick. On the peninsula there are the remains of some foundations, including those of an old church. The main area of habitation was, however, on the mainland, and there are found many traces of buildings. There must have been a theater to accomodate the Artists of Dionysius, but no trace has been found, though several possible sites on the hillside may be noticed. Nearby can be seen traces of what was once the gymnasium. The territory around Lebedos was famous for its thermal springs and is much patronized today by visitors to the area. The waters are renowned for their curative properties, especially for rheumatism. A popular one is located at Karakoç, ten miles from the town of Seferihisar on the road leading towards Ürkmez.

Leave a Reply