The site of ancient Notion or Notion-by-the-sea is located south of Izmir, thirty kilometers from the town of Degirmendere. Notion served as a port to the Ionian city of Kolophon, and is situated just a few kilometers south of one of the most important religious centers in antiquity, the site of Klaros. Ancient Notion was built on a hill above the sea, and played an important role as a naval and commercial center.
HISTORY OF NOTION
Little is known about the founding of Notion except that it was an early Greek colony probably settled around the same time as Kolophon (piesent-day Degirmendere). Unlike Kolophon, however, Notion was not included in the League of Ionian cities. According to the writings of Herodotus, it was an Aeolian city. This seems unlikely in that Notion was located so far to the south of Aeolis, but the name, in fact, means southern. At any rate, Notion had strong ties with nearby Kolophon for the obvious reason of military protection, as well as for commercial dealings. It was not nearly so prosperous a city as Kolophon, however. After the Delian confederacy was formed, Kolophon paid tribute in the amount of three talents, while Notion paid only a third of a talent.
The dependence of Kolophon upon the port city was extended after its capture by Lysimachus in 299 B.C. Shortly after this, following the death of Lysimachus, Kolophonian control was regained, but Notion was much more in the foreground. With the emphasis on shipping, during the Hellenistic period, Notion became the more important of the two cites, and even took the name of New Kolophon. The rise of Ephesus in wealth and power soon drained much of Notion's prestige.
The predominately Greek settlement of Notion was administered by Athens after Kolophon had been captured by the Persians. Then political factions were formed in both cities when Persian control was ended. Notion's allegiance to Athens, and Kolophon's to the Persians remained. Pro Athenian citizens moved to Notion for refuge, only to encounter Persian sympathizers there as well. Notion was divided, and a wall was built to separate the pro and anti-Persian sectors. One side called upon the aid of Athens, the other brought in more supporters from Kolophon.
The uneasy situation was soon quelled by the Athenian forces of Paches, and control was restored to the pro-Athenian forces. During the Roman period, control over both cities dwelled within the acropolis of Notion. In addition to the prosperity enjoyed by Notion's citizens as a result of sea-trade, the famed oracle of Klaros attracted much of it in the way of tourist and business trade. Many of the local merchants attained as much wealth as the earlier citiens of decadent Kolophon.
Two temples were built in Notion. One was a sanctuary to the Goddess Athena, the other remains a mystery. Since the temple of Athena is the larger of these, Athena would have played a greater part in the citizens' worship. Undoubtedly, many of the religious would journey to neighboring Klaros to the sanctuary of Apollo.
RUINS OF NOTION
The most important of the early excavations was undertaken in 1921, by a French arçheological expedition. The ruins of Notion are spread over the flat summit of a horse-shoe shaped hill, nearly a kilometer in length. While little of the structural elements remain standing, the site is a pleasant one to visit. Many of the building foundations and meeting places are recognizable, including two Agoras, a theater, two temples, baths, and the wall which encircles the entire site. From the acropolis, there is an excellent view of Ephesus, Kusadasi, and Samos.
Temple of Athena: The French expedition discovered an inscription near the temple relating that this religious structure had served as a sanctuary to Athena, rather than to the Klarian Apollo, as was formerly believed. It was constructed in the second century A.D., during the reign of Hadrian. Today, only the foundation remains on the western side of the hill. The Corinthian temple was placed within a quadrangle of colonnades or porticos of the Doric order. These are well-preserved on the side that the Byzantines had built defenses. The temple was built upon the customary three-stepped Krepidoma or platform, with dimensions of approximately 8×16 meters. Parts of the stylobate may be seen, as well as some of the brecchia columns. An exceptionally fine frieze, engraved with the heads of bulls was found in this area. To the east of the temple, are the remains of a large altar, measuring 5×8 meters. The altar and temple, together known as the Athenaion, were surrounded by four stoas.
The Agora: The main Agora is located near the center of the acropolis; another is toward the east, near the wall. Remains of the structures are difficult to recognize, but one containing rows of seats is thought to have served as the council house. This is in the central Agora. The eastern Agora is barely recognizable.
The Theater: A small theater with only twenty-seven rows of seats, yet to be fully excavated, is near the eastern Agora. Much of the stage-building remains along with the southern retaining wall and its vaulted passage. Originally built in Hellenistic times, the Greek theater was reconstructed by the Romans.
The Walls: Much of the strong wall surrounding the site is still standing with several of the square towers in good condition. This four-kilometer long wall was built during the Hellenistic period, then reinforced in the Roman period. The northern and western gates are recognizable, as well as another one at the top of a flight of steps, in the south-east.
Other Ruins: Shops were laid out in the outer areas of the toas, on three sides. The second temple's remains are located north-east of the Temple of Apollo. And, on the western side of the hill, there is a large burial area or necropolis. Many of the tombs are cut into the rock, while others are either sunk below the ground level or constructed of masonry above the ground.