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Aigai (Aeolis)

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Title: Aigai (Aeolis)  
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Aigai (Aeolis)

Aigai, also Aigaiai (Ancient Greek: Αἰγαί or Αἰγαῖαι; Latin: Aegae or Aegaeae; Turkish: Nemrutkale or Nemrut Kalesi) was an ancient Greek city in Aeolis. Aegae is mentioned by both Herodotus[1] and Strabo[2] as being a member of the Aeolian dodecapolis. It was also an important sanctuary of Apollo. Aigai had its brightest period under the Attalid dynasty that ruled from nearby Pergamon in the 3rd and 2nd century BC.

The remains of the city are located near the modern village of Yuntdağı Köseler in Manisa Province, Turkey. The archaeological site is situated at a rather high altitude almost on top of Mount Gün (Dağı), part of the mountain chain of Yunt (Dağları).


Plan of Aigai drawn by Richard Bohn in 1889

Initially the city was a possession of the Lydian Empire and later the Achaemenid Empire when it conquered the former. In the early third century BC it became part of the Kingdom of Pergamon. It changed hands from Pergamon to the Seleucid Empire, but was recaptured by Attalus I of Pergamon in 218 BC.[3] In the war between Bithynia and Pergamon it was destroyed by Prusias II of Bithynia in 156 BC. After a peace was brokered by the Romans the city was compensated with hundred talents.[4] Under the rule of Pergamon a market building and a temple to Apollo were constructed.

In 129 BC the Kingdom of Pergamon became part of the Roman Empire. The city was destroyed by an earthquake in 17 AD and received aid for reconstruction from emperor Tiberius.[5]


The city is situated on a plateau at the summit of the steep Gün Dağı mountain, which can be climbed from the north. The plateau is surrounded by a wall with a length of 1.5 kilometers. On the eastern side are the remains of the three-story indoor market with a height of 11 meters and a length of 82 meters. The upper floor of the Hellenistic building was renovated in Roman times.[6] The partially overgrown remains of many other buildings are scattered over the site. These include the acropolis which is laid out in terraces, an odeon, a gymnasium, a bouleuterion and the foundations of three temples.[7]

About five kilometers to the east the foundations of a sanctuary of Apollo are found on the banks of the river which flows around the ruins. It was an Ionic order peripteros temple from the first century BC. A cella which is six meters high and three monoliths still remain.[6][7]

Excavation history

The first western visitors of Aigai were William Mitchell Ramsay and Salomon Reinach in 1880. They reported about their visit in the Journal of Hellenic Studies[8] and the Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique.[9] They were followed by Richard Bohn and Carl Schuchhardt, who examined the site as a part of the excavations in Pergamon.[10]

Since 2004 the site is being excavated by Ersin Doğer of Ege University in Izmir.[11] By 2010 the access road, the bouleuterion, the odeon, shops, numerous water pipes and large parts of the market hall were uncovered. For the coming years it is planned to re-erect the market hall's facade with the original stones.


  1. ^ Herodotus, Histories 1.149
  2. ^ Strabo, Geographica 13.3.5
  3. ^ Polybius, The Histories 5.77
  4. ^ Polybius, The Histories 33.13
  5. ^ Tacitus, Annals 2.47
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Schuchhardt, C., Bohn, R. (1889). Altertümer von Aegae. Berlin: G. Reimer.
  11. ^ Excavation web site (in Turkish)

External links

  • Official website of Aigai Excavations (in Turkish)
  • More photos of the site
  • Ancient Coinage of Aeolis, Aegae
  • Inscriptions from Aigai
  • Description of Aigai on Current Archeology in Turkey
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