Ancient Greek city, southern Troas (now northwestern Turkey). It was founded in the 1st millennium BC on the Gulf of Edremit, opposite the island of Lesbos. It was long an important city and port. Aristotle taught there 348–345 BC, and it was the birthplace of the philosopher Cleanthes (331?–232? BC).
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Assos (Greek: Άσσος), is a small historically rich town in Behramkale, Turkey. Aristotle lived here and opened an Academy. The city was also visited by St. Paul. Today Assos is a Aegean-coast seaside retreat amid ancient ruins.
Though officially named Behramkale most people still call the town by its ancient name of Assos. The town is on the Biga Peninsula, although the peninsula is known by its ancient name, Troad. The town itself is on the Adramyttian Gulf.
It is possible to see much of the surrounding area from the top of a Trachyte Crag. From this temple, it was possible to see Lesbos in the south, Pergamum in the Southeast, and Mount Ida of Phyriga in the East. To the North, the Tuzla River flows. To the Northwest, there is the gate to the city of two massive Hellenic columns that still exist today.
A harbor exists on fifty meters of coastline, stuck between Cape Lectum and the east end of the Adramyttian Gulf. This location made Assus a key shipping station through the Troad.
The city was founded from 900-1000 BC by Aeolian colonists from Lesbos, who specifically are said to have come from Methymna. The settlers built a Doric Temple to Athena on top of the crag in 530 BC. From this temple Hermias of Atarneus, a student of Plato, ruled Assos, the Troad and Lesbos for a period of time, under which the city experienced its greatest prosperity. (Strangely, Hermias was actually the slave of the ruler of Atarneus.) Under his rule, he encouraged philosophers to move to the city. As part of this, in 348 BC Aristotle came here and married King Hermeias's niece, Pythia, before leaving to Lesbos three years later in 345 BC. This 'golden period' of Assos ended several years later when the Persians arrived, and subsequently tortured Hermias to death.
The Persians were driven out by Alexander the Great in 334 BCE. Between 241 and 133 BC, the city was ruled by the Kings of Pergamon. However, in 133 BC, the Pergamons lost control of the city as it was absorbed by the Roman empire.
St. Paul also visited the city during his third missionary journey through Asia Minor, which was between 53-57 AD, on his way to Lesbos. From this period onwards, Assos shrunk to a small village, as it has remained ever since. Ruins around Assos continue to be excavated.
Many of the old buildings of Assos are in ruins today, but Behram (the city's modern name) is still bustling. It still serves as a port for Troad, and is now well known for its history. A project went on in the early 1900s to clear the temple to Athena, and much of the art found has gone to museums like the Louvre. The art found includes pictures both of mythical creatures and heraldic events.
Down the steep seaward side of the hill at the water's edge is the charming hamlet called Iskele (meaning Dock or Wharf), with old stone houses now serving as inns, pensions and restaurants. The small pebbly beach is less of an attraction than the boat tours and the hamlet itself. Although the one lane road to the hamlet is steep with shear drops, the sea front is has a constant stream of cars and minibuses arriving from dawn to dusk. At dusk the bars compete to see which can play the loudest music until 1:20 to 2:00 AM. Missing from the harbor are pillars from the ancient port. These pillars, probably sold, laid undisturbed in the harbor for over a millennia.
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