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Investigation Method:
Classical Archaic


Location: Presently called Enez, the ancient city of Ainos is located to the south of the mouth of the Meriç River (Hebrus) where it spills into the sea following the Cape Sarpedon to the west of the Gulf of Saros (Melas). It is known that "bria" in Thracian meant "polis", and the city was formerly called Poltyobria, being named after Poltys, the legendary king of Thrace. The settlement was located on the land of the local Apsinthii tribe [Sevin 2001a:25]. However, Pliny states that the region was formerly held by the tribe of Cicones [Pliny, N.H. IV, 43]. The foundation and status of Ainos were accounted in detail in ancient sources [Homer, Iliad IV, 520; Herodotus, VII, 58].
Geography and Environment: Although it was founded on a peninsula, which was formed during the Mid-Miocene, 25 m high above the sea level, it already remains 3500 m far from the sea shore [Başaran (S) 1996:106]. To the south and west of the peninsula, which was easily accessible from the sea, were two harbors. Being detached from the shore as a result of the alluvial deposits filled by the Meriç River, today the remains of the harbors are the Lake Dalyan and the Lake Taşalti. Herodotus states that Ainos, an Aiolian city and the Lake Stentoris (Gala) are reached passing by Melas (Kavak Suyu) and leading to westward [Herodotus, VII, 58]. Ainos was inhabited during the 7th century BC, first by the Alopekonnessians from the Thracian Chersonese, and then by the Mytilenians and Cymians [Strabo, VII, 51].
Research and Excavation: The first excavations in Ainos were conducted by a team under the direction of A. Erzen in 1971-72. The excavations started again in 1979, and from 1994, they are directed by S. Başaran.
Stratigraphy: The excavations between 1971 and 1994 yielded 5 building levels [Başaran 1996:105-123]. Building level I: Thracian Settlements Building level II: Aiolian Settlements Building level III: Roman Period Building level IV: Byzantine Period Building level V: Ottoman Period
Small Finds: Architecture: Remains of a well-preserved Hellenistic structure, probably from the 6th century BC, were uncovered below the Roman cultural layer at an average depth of 6 m. The structure measures 4.8x2.5 m in dimensions with a rectangular plan [Erzen 1981a:158]. Also uncovered is a rectangular structure, which was carved into the bedrock consisting of a Miocene calcerous deposit, from the Hellenistic Period. It reaches up to a height of 3 m, completely carved into the rock, and wooden putlog holes are observed near the ceiling. It is called central structure no. 1. As moved westwards, arches and stairs carved into the bedrock, descending down to the cellars, were found [Erzen 1984b:7]. In the Aeolian settlement on the acropolis (Building Level II), the bedrock was leveled to form structures in several dimensions and shapes [Basaran 1996:109-11]. The Aeolian capitals uncovered next to it seem to have belonged to a large temple, and they reflect well the architectural evolvement experienced in Ainos during the second half of the 6th century BC [Başaran 1996:114]. During the 2011 campaign, the graves belonging to Archaic and Classical periods were exposed in the earliest level of Su Terazisi Necropolis. Pottery: The excavations in 1979 yielded stamped amphora handles. In 1980, the structure which was carved into the bedrock and uncovered during the previous campaign and its cellar were excavated, and pottery from the Hellenistic and Classical Periods were recovered [Erzen 1981b:87]. In 1981, plenty of kantharoi, fish plates, lid pots and pans dating to the 4th century BC were found [Erzen 1984b:8]. Most of the ceramics among the ones uncovered in the structure carved into the bedrock in the field IVab during the 1984 campaign are from the 8th century BC. Among the finds are fragments of a group called Naucratis. A fragment depicting a warrior with a Corinthian helmet and the head of a woman standing across him is one of the qualified examples of the black figure technique. Another fragment is also important as it demonstrates the quality of the imported pottery in Enez. It seems that this fragment depicting the depasturing of livestock may have been from the import ware from Corinth dating to the late 7th century [Erzen 1986b:605, pics. 8-11]. The excavations in the citadel in 1985 yielded sherds of the black figure ware in various sectors as well as fragments of kantharoi, amphorae, oil lamps and plates dating to the 5th century BC. Also found are sherds from the Hellenistic and Roman Periods. During the same campaign, mixed Hellenistic and Roman ware were recovered from the trenchs I and II dug to the west of the area with mosaics [Erzen 1987:274-77]. The citadel excavations in 1986 yielded black figure pottery depicting war scenes and masked figures in the trench D as well as fragments belonging to the East Greek Group depicting lions and depasturing goats [Erzen 1988:280, pic.3]. In 1989, a sherd depicting a farewell scene of two men in red figure technique of the 5th century BC was found [Erzen 1991:156, pic. 3]. In 1991, many sherds of the black and red glazed ware dating to the 5th and 4th centuries BC were uncovered during the excavations in the Taşalti Necropolis [Erzen-Basaran 1993:206]. The necropolis excavations in 1992 yielded a red-slip pot and a single handled mug as grave gifts. The building level II includes the best pottery samples produced in Ainos in the East Greek style. The earliest sample is of the Bird Bowl group among the ceramic groups dating between the second half of the 7th century BC and the 6th century BC. Filling motifs were made with a bird (probably a duck) on a light brown background between several shades of dark brown and tongue motifs. As it is the only sample uncovered in Ainos up to date, it may have been an imported ware. The 0.75 m thick layer just above the bedrock yielded dinos fragments in the Wild Goat Style dating from 630 to 600 BC. A group of ware uncovered from the same layer is dated to the Middle Orientalizing Period (600-575 BC). Also found are samples of the Fikellura pottery. Although numerous sherds from the Archaic and Classical Periods were uncovered during the 1992 campaign in the Taşalti Necropolis excavations, none of them are grave finds. Randomly scattered sherds of the Corinthian ware were found in the soil which were removed from the necropolis [Erzen 1994a:457-59]. Numerous fragments of black and red glazed pottery dating to the 5th and 4th centuries were found inside the debris in 1993 [Erzen-Basaran 1993:206]. It seems that Ainos was under the influence of Attica from the early 6th century, resulting in increased number of imported Attic ware. Many kylixes from this period are noteworthy. Depicting various scenes, the first bands of these kylixes are bright glazed while the second bands are red-slipped [Basaran 1996:111,114]. Attican pottery finds in red figure technique and many black bright-painted pots were uncovered in the layer dating to the 5th and 4th centuries, particularly in the cellar section [Başaran 1996:115]. The ceramic finds recoved during the citadel excavations in 1995 didn't change the stratification in this area. The uppermost layer of the trench yielded an intermingled pottery from the Ottoman and Byzantine Periods, which were underlied by Roman ceramics. Sherds from the Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic Periods were recovered on the bedrock [Basaran 1997:490, pic1]. The excavations in 2000 yielded many sherds dating to the Archaic Period right above the deposit layer in the trench 4ac in the fortress. The most characteristic of those finds is the fragment of a bird bowl dating to the 7th century BC. Another sample uncovered is a sherd with a runner figure in the black figure technique [Basaran 2002a:374-75]. During the 2003 excavations in the acropolis of Ainos, many Attican ceramics were recovered from the layers of the Classical Period. The lowermost layer yielded ceramics of the Orientalizing, Corinthian and Attic productions [Basaran 2005:117-18]. The excavations in the Killik Hill, one of the highest hills of Ainos, yielded many grey burnished ceramics dating to the 6th-5th centuries BC. According to the analysis made on the grey ceramics of Ainos, they account for 59% or more of the all ceramic ware during the 7th century, and they have a very qualified appearance. A decline is observed in the quality of the grey ceramics in the 6th-5th centuries BC despite no change in the rate. Grey variations of the classical Greek forms observed in many sites using the grey ware during the 6th-5th centuries are also seen in Ainos [Polat 2002:193-4]. Among the grave goods found in Su Terazisi Necropolis in 2011, there are plates and bowls in orientalizing style, Corinth, Attic and local wares. Black and red figured lekythoi which bears mythological scenes or geometric and plant motifs and Attic and Ainos kylikes with mythological figures, Syrian glass objects and a baked clay bust of a young girl belonging to Late Archaic or Early Classical period are among the finds of Classical Period. Figurines: A 11.5 m high satry head was found in the citadel excavations during the 1981 campaign. It is interpreted as one of the most beautiful terracotta sculptures found in Thrace so far [Erzen 1983:285; Erzen 1984b:8, pic.7]. The 1989 excavations in the citadel yielded a terracotta figurine head with a white-painted, high helmet (?) decorated with a palmetto motif dating to the 5th century BC, which probably belongs to Athena [Erzen 1991:156, pic.4]. The same year, a terracotta figurine dating to the 5th century BC, and probably belonging to the goddess Hera was found in the trench opened in the city [Erzen 1991:159, pic.22]. The Archaic Period in Ainos is represented by a poor quantity of plastic works. None of the layers belonging to this period yielded plastic works. The only exceptions are a terracotta male head reflecting the characteristics of the 7th century BC and seated figurines [Basaran 1996:114]. Fragments of terracotta figurines dating to the Hellenistic Period were uncovered during the excavations in the Taşalti Necropolis in 1992 [Erzen 1994a:457-59]. The acropolis excavations in 2003 yielded a female portrait with archaic features, and a terracotta satyr mask and figurine fragments in the excavation conducted in front of the fortress [Basaran 2005:118, 119, pic.5]. Statue/Relief: The extramural excavations conducted in the Mosaic Area in 1983 yielded a Nike (goddess of victory) statue with a bronze pedestal on the mosaic pavement. A wing of the statue, which is 19.5 cm high together with the pedestal, is broken. Another bronze statue found on the mosaic pavement is the statue of a female, which is 31 cm high which was found intact. A third statue found at the same place is of Serapis, which is 24 cm high [Erzen 1984b:9-10]. A marble female head was found in the Taşalti Necropolis excavations in 1991. It is in a normal size, but broken from the neck. With an eroded face and nose, the hair of the female portrait is covered by a cloth, and the open area above the forehead has a hairline at the center, combed sideways [Erzen-Basaran 1993:207, pic. 6]. Coins: A bronze obol depicting a side view profile of Hermes on the obverse, and a Kerykeion on the reverse is spectacular as it is the first Ainos coin uncovered in the acropolis during the 1979 campaign. It is also obvious that it is dated earlier than the adoption of Chios standards in 411 BC [Erzen 1981a:159]. Bronze coins were found during the Taşalti Necropolis excavations in 1991[Erzen-Basaran 1993:207]. Six bronze coins dating to the 5th and 4th centuries were uncovered in the 2003 campaign conducted in the acropolis [Basaran 2005:118]. In the same year, three bronze coins with a profile depiction of Hermes dating to the second half of the 5th century were found in the Çakillik Necropolis [Basaran 2005:122]. Seals/Stamp Impressions: The 1979-80 excavations yielded seals on many amphoras. These seals indicate that the city of Ainos imported wine from the Taşoz Island (Thasos) starting from the 5th century BC [Erzen 1981a:159]. The seals are dated to the early 4th century [Erzen 1981b:88]. The excavations in 1982 in the cellar that was carved into the bedrock yielded 8 stamped amphora handles. Dating to the Classical Period, they are of Taşoz origin [Erzen 1984a:297]. The Taşalti Necropolis excavations in 1991 also yielded stamped amphora handles. While some bear the names of the Greek cities accompanied with their emblems, the name of Ainos can also be read on some of the handles. Among them, one handle bears the depiction of a side view of a bearded portrait (probably Dionysos) with a diadem in the fronthead [Erzen-Başaran 1993:207, pic.4]. Stamped amphora handles representing the Hellenistic Period were found during the excavations in front of the fortress [Basaran 2005:119]. The excavations conducted in 1982 in the cellar which was carved into the bedrock yielded 8 stamped amphora handles dating to the Classical Period as well as five fragments of a cup with graffito [Erzen 1984a:297]. Graves: The excavations in 1992 yielded graves from the Archaic and Classical Periods in the necropolis area called Taşalti where various types of burials were observed. Although many sherds dating to the Archaic and Classical Periods were uncovered in this area, none of them are grave finds. Absence of any hoards from the early period in spite of presence of Corinthian pottery, stamped amphora handles and terracotta figurines in the necropolis area suggests that the graves might have been disturbed during the Late Hellenistic and Roman Periods [Erzen 1994a:457-59]. Mosaics: During the 1982 campaign, an excavation was initiated on a mosaic of 3x3 m in the garden of the house no.54 on the Maarif Street outside the fortress -upon the notification of the owner Mustafa M. Meriç-, and a mosaic area consisting of medium-size colored stones at 1.5 m deep from the surface, including geometrical forms was exposed. Consisting of green, white, red and yellow colors, the mosaic bears a female figure within a panel including lozenge patterns, double S's, spirals and other geometrical forms [Erzen 1984b:9].
Interpretation and Dating: The stamped amphora handles indicate that the city of Ainos imported wine from the Thasos Island starting from the 5th century BC [Erzen 1981a:159]. The figurine, Satyr and Maenad paintings recovered during the 1981 campaign indicate the presence of a Dionysus cult in Ainos [Erzen 1983: 287]. In most of the trenchs in the citadel, a thin burned layer is observed approximately between 0.8 and 1 m above the local rock. This layer should have been a result of the battles between the Persians and Greeks. Ainos joined the Delian League following the battles of Salamis, Plataia and Mykale (480-479 BC) between the Persians and the Greeks, which resulted in victory of the Greeks. As a result, the production under the influence of the Attic Art became competitive with Athens, which is proved by the silver coins struck by the city and other works of art [Başaran 1996:114-5]. It seems that lotus depiction was favorably used in majority of the pottery decorated with plant motifs, which were uncovered in Ainos, and they are diverse from the ones found in other sites and more elaborate [Başaran 2002c:66, fig.1]. Although Ainos yielded finds reaching back to the 4th Millennium BC and it had been inhabited by the local communities before the Ionian colonial age, the archaeological finds and historical data demonstrate that it developed as an actual polis starting from the 7th century BC [Özyildirim 2002:91]. The grave gifts, grave stones, and inscribed stelai indicate that the Taşalti Necropolis had been used as a cemetery from the Classical Period throughout the Byzantine Period [Erzen 1994:305]. The grave goods found in the graves belonging to Archaic Period during the studies conducted in Su Terazisi Necropolis in 2011 indicate the commercial relationship of Ainos with Anatolia, Aegean Islands, Corinth and Athens since its foundation and the production of pottery were able to compete with its neighbors.

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