Aigai (Aeolis), Turkey

The ancient site of Aigai, one of the twelve cities of Aeolis, is located some twenty miles north-west of Manisa. The ruins are impressive, but the journey is a tough one. 

It is accessible by Jeep from the coast road near Aliağa. 
The area is called Nemrut Kale in Turkish and is no longer inhabited.

Aigai, also Aigaiai (Ancient Greek: Αἰγαί or Αἰγαῖαι; Latin: Aegae or Aegaeae; Turkish: Nemrutkale or Nemrut Kalesi) was an ancient Greek, later Roman (Ægæ, Aegae), city and bishopric in Aeolis. Aegae is mentioned by both Herodotus and Strabo 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, which 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).

The area of Aeolia was that stretching along the coast of Western Anatolia and was founded, according to legend, by the descendants af Agamemnon. Aigai was an Aeolian colony from Its origins, and according to Herodotus, wos the oldest city in Aeolia. it was here that Themistocles, being in exile, made his way secretly In a lady’s litter to the Persian court at Susa. The town can never have been a political power, owing to its    unfavorable    position in a remote spot in steep mountainous country. It lay on the  outskirts of the other Aeolian towns.
Path to Aigai

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.
Plan of Aigai drawn by Richard Bohn in 1889

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. 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 architecture of the reconstruction was tit at of the style of Pergamum. In this period the town had more importance ond expanded. It was badly damaged by the great earthquake of 17 A.D. which shook the whole region, but it recovered and enjoyed prosper it’s agoin for another period.

Ægæ was important enough in the Roman province of Asia Prima to become one of the many suffragans of its capital Ephesus's Metropolitan Archbishopric; but it as to fade.
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 and the Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique. They were followed by Richard Bohn and Carl Schuchhardt, who examined the site as a part of the excavations in Pergamon.
Since 2004 the site is being excavated by Ersin Doğer of Ege University in Izmir. 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.

The site of Aigai is similar to that of Pergamum in that it is a long rocky acropolis, stretching in four successive tiers to a point in the northeast.



The extension towards the south of the original enclosure is built In fine regular courses, very much like the Wall of Eumenes  ot Pergamum. 

They both   have the same  style of decoration and seem to have been designed by the same architect. This southern section af thé walls forms an excellent defence.
The stadium stood on the lower terrace and the theoter was higher up. Its cavea was carved out of the rock and the stage was on a long platform. A small portlcoed temple occupies the upper terrace on the west, but the best-preserved building is the covered market which is also located on the upper terrace. The market building is rectangular and originally consisted of three levels.
Bouleuterion in Aigai

Temple of Apollo
Temple of Apollo photo 1880

Temple of Athena



Byzantine Basilica

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.The partially overgrown remains of many other buildings are scattered over the site. These include the acropolis which is laid out in terraces, a Macellum, a gymnasium, a bouleuterion and the foundations of three temples.

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


Herodotus, Histories 1.149
Strabo, Geographica 13.3.5
Polybius,  The Histories
Tacitus, Annals 2.47
 Mehling, Marianne (1993). Knaurs Kulturführer in Farbe: Türkei (in German). München: Droemer Knaur. p. 451. ISBN 9783426262931.
Lang, Gernot (2003). Klassische antike Stätten Anatoliens (in German). Norderstedt: Books on Demand. p. 37. ISBN 9783833000683.
Ramsay, W. M. (1881). "Contributions to the History of Southern Aeolis". The Journal of Hellenic Studies. 2: 271–308. JSTOR 623569.
 Reinach, Salomon (1881). "Une forteresse grecque à Nimroud-Kalessi". Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique (in French). 5 (5): 131–136. doi:10.3406/bch.1881.4245.
Schuchhardt, C., Bohn, R. (1889). Altertümer von Aegae. Berlin: G. Reimer.
Excavation web site (in Turkish)