The large port city of Teos was once the center of the actors guild of Ionia. Its extensive ruins, including those of the renowned Temple of Dionysius at Teos, make a visit to the site worthwhile. It is located very near the town of Sigacik and can be reached quite easily over good roads from Izmir. The distance to the site is just under thirty miles from Izmir.
HISTORY OF TEOS
Tradition has it that the Minyans coming from Orchomonus in Boeotia founded the city of Teos. These early peoples were later followed by the lonians. The city was a member of the Panionium, which was the religious federation of the lonians, and it was proposed by Thales of Miletus that Teos should become the center for a political federation of the cities. This sensible idea was not adopted, and, when the Persians invaded, this lack of a common policy and strength led to the lonians' downfall. Many of the citizens of Teos then set sail and founded the city of Abdera in Thrace.
Later some of them returned to Teos, and the city became sufficiently prosperous again to be able to provide seventeen ships for the Ionian fleet at the Battle of Lade in 494 B.C. This rise in prosperity continued until Teos was paying six talents to the Delian Confederacy, making the city one of the richest in Ionia.
A major earthquake rocked Ionia at the beginning of the fourth century B.C., destroying many of the cities along the coast. The King Lysimachus removed a certain number of the citizens of Teos to the newly built city of Ephesus not long after this. This ordered shifting of populations seems to have been a common practice in antiquity.
Teos possessed the largest temple to Dionysus in the ancient world and, because of this, in the third century, the city became the home of the Artists of Dionysus. This made the territory of Teos sacred because the Artists, although they were actors and musicians, were also a religious order. Unfortunately, their artistic temperaments caused endless trouble, and their center was moved several times until they were finally settled at Lebedos further down the coast. This band of entertainers provided amusement all over the region, travelling to festivals and special occasions, always returning to their home city. The special rights of these players were similar to those accorded to members of the diplomatic corps today. They were also exempt from paying taxes and enjoyed great fame and notoriety.
Teos possessed a splendid harbor which was certainly the main contributing factor to her prosperity. In 190 B.C., the Romans put in to Teos and proceeded to take the supplies intended for the army of Antiochus III. Antiochus tried to prevent this and intended to trap them in the harbor, but the superiority of the Romans prevailed. Teos was incorporated into the Roman province of Asia.
The city produced two famous citizens. One of them was the renowned lyrical poet, Anacreon, who was one of the first poets to make love a theme of his work. Apellicon was the other, and he is famous as the man who bought Aristotles's library. Because it was in bad condition, he copied it, making many mistakes which were afterwards rectified in Rome by Tyrannion.
A – Acropolis and Early Wall, B – Gymnasium, C – Theater, D – Temple of Dionysus, E – Mole and Carved Block in Sea, F – Ancient Quay, G, G -Hellenistic Walls, H – Medieval Castle, J – Odeion, K – Street and Houses
RUINS OF TEOS
Teos was on the isthmus of a peninsula and had two harbors. The southern one has been silted up by the stream which runs into it, but in both, parts of the old quays can be seen. The earliest occupation point to be discerned at the city is that on the acropolis. Some parts of the fortification wall can be seen amidst the overgrowth of vegetation. The city was primarily located between the harbor and this acropolis. The walls in this section were erected during the third century B.C., and are oddly enough straight, enclosing a rectangular area.
Of the Temple of Dionysus, not much remained standing when excavations of the site were begun, but it is being reconstructed by Turkish archeologists. It was built by Hermogenes of Priene in the second century B.C., and is of the Ionic order. The temple was rededicated to an emperor, probably Hadrian, during Roman times. The theater which was an important building in the city which housed the Artists of Dionysus, is presently in poor condition.
Plan of the Temple of Dionysus at Teos
The stage is of the Roman style and measures fourteen feet from front to back. The theater had a gallery under the upper seats, and parts of this can be seen. There is also an odeum in Teos, which was used for musical occasions. The remains of a gymnasium can be seen to the north-east of the acropolis. An inscription found here gives details about teachers' salaries, with the average paycheck being about a hundred pounds a year. All the buildings and constructions found at Teos were made of the local blue limestone which was a great export item for the ancients of Teos. This stone is as hard as marble and easier to work.