Theatre at Alinda

Theatre at Alinda

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Alinda, near the site of ancient Alabanda, reveals some of what are thought to be the finest ruins to come out of Carian antiquity. The city has been identified out of a very unclear past by coins found at the extensive ruins there. It is located at the Turkish town of Karpuzlu. Follow Route Six, running between Aydln end Mu§la, to the Karpuzlu turnoff. This is about □ mile before coming to the town of Qine. Karpuzlu is some fifteen miles from the turnoff.


Alinda’s history is quite obscure although It was one of the most strongly fortified cities of the Carian region. Nothing has been learned of its origins. The only significant moment in history that has been uncovered was one that occurred at the time of the banishment of Queen Ada, the sister of the Carian king Mausoleus. She had become involved In a dispute with her surviving brother after the death of Mausolus over the rights of succession. She was dethroned and exiled to Alinda in 340 B.C. There she continued her regal way of life and prepared herself to regain her lost throne at a moments notice. She had only a few years to wait before Alexander the Great arrived in Caria, In 334. Ada took advantage of the situation and proposed to make a deal with Alexander. She would surrender to him -the city of Alinda and would help him in his campaign to conquer her brother’s territories. In return, Alexander was to restore thé*throne to Ada. But Alexander, pleased with her attitude and perhaps enthralled just a bit by her feminine charms, refused to take Alinda from Queen Ada, and, instead, made her ruler of all of Caria.

A possible reason for the relative lack of information concerning Alinda may be that its name was changed sometime after the above described incident. Since there were many cities called Alexandria in Anatolia after the coming of Alexander the Greai into, the area, it can be surmised that Afinda, too, took the name of its redeemor. An inscription found in the area derives from the dynasty of Olympichus who had been a general of Seleucus II and controlled the area centering on Mylas for a period in the third century B.C. The inscription honors two people that are thought to have been residents of Alinda. Silver coinage was begun witn Hercules facings around 200 B.C. The city minted coins until the third century A.D.

In the period after Alexander’s campaign, Alinda became rapidly Heilenised and quickly lost her purely Canon character. A Hellenistic theater and a superb market place were constructed. In the time of the Roman Empire, nothing whatever was heard of the city, and the story of exactly what became of Alinda remains as èbscure as her earliest beginnings.


The ruins of Alinda, to the west of Ihe township of Cine are situated on the top of a hill commanding an excellent view of the plain of Karpuzler. No excavations have as yet been undertaken on the Site, but there is much to see ail the same. Several sections of the old walls and some of the towers are preserved in very good condition. The market building- is still remarkably preserved, standing its full length of more than three hundred feet, and most of its original height of fifty feet remains in position as well. The market was composed of three storeys the topmost of these was level with and accessible from the agora which adjoins it from the north. The agora is a flat area running the whole length of thé market building, over a hundred feet wide. It was surrounded, as was the custom, by a stoa, of which a few columns can still be seen. The theater is almost as well preserved as ihe market building. It was of average size, seventy yards in diameter, with thirty-five rows of seats. The arrangement of the tiers of seats and the Side entrances Is of considerable interest. Also around the town can be seen a number of tombs of the Carian type, both large and small, some ruined, some in near-perfect condition.

The acropolis was mounted atop a steep hid, possibly five hundred feet high, and the whole is surrounded by strong fortification walls which ore in a good state of preservation. Near the summit of the hill is a well-preserved, square tower with two storeys. A tunnel nearby the tower is thought to have led to the theater. Also on top of the acropolis Is a large circular foundation, some fifty feet in diameter. The purpose this played In Alinda remains unknown. Further over from this are the remains of what is thought to have been a small temple.

Another, even higher acropolis is also surrounded by solid walls some seven feet thick at the widest parts. Within this fortified area are the remains of houses and other small buildings. Also here are a row of deep, water cisterns. This second acropolis is linked with the other by a wall with several towers that crosses the low ground between the two. An aqueduct, In good condition can be seen at the site with four of the arches still upright. Although the site of Alinda remains unexcavated, the reminders of the past are numerous and well preserved. A visit to this ancient ruins is highly recommended.


Alinda lies on two ridges above today's district town of Karpuzlu . In the lower town, the most striking thing is a former three-story building, the outer wall of the two lower floors of which is still completely preserved. It is 90 meters long and is interpreted as a row of stores and shops in the 30-meter-wide agora . The divided basement rooms are accessible from the valley side at ground level, the ground floor from the agora. Supports in the outer wall and several pillars occupy the former upper floor. The structure of the building is thus also reminiscent of large caravanserais with storage cellars, ground floor stables and living rooms on the upper floor.

Further up on the slope is the well-preserved theater . It is oriented to the southwest. The retaining wall of the auditorium (cavea) and the analemmas are made of Hellenistic ashlar masonry. On the uppermost plateau of the lower town are the foundations of a small temple of the Ante .

In the north of the upper town, a necropolis stretches across the flat mountain saddle. Numerous Carian sarcophagi stand in the landscape many graves are also carved directly into the rock.

The upper town shows a solidly fortified upper castle in the west and the lower castle adjoining the slope to the east. On the southern slope there is a bastion in front of both, which is connected to the lower castle by a gate system. The wall ring of the upper castle, like the fortification of the lower town, is dated to the late classical period. Conversions and installations date from the Byzantine period.

In the west of the upper town there is an approximately 45 meter long section of an aqueduct . Four arches are completely preserved, next to them a section of wall with a gate. The water channel running on top is still covered by a few stones.

A Model City: Priene

The mighty 4th century BC Temple of Athena is the most prominent monument at Priene.

Last week, I wrote about the ancient city of Lato on Crete, and how its evocative remains reveal the key features and characteristics of the Cretan city state. Continuing on that idea, let’s have a look at Priene in Ionia (Western Turkey).

Priene is probably the clearest, best-preserved and most accessible example of a planned Classical Greek city to be found anywhere, making it one of the most important sites to visit in that cultural context. It presents a unique opportunity to walk on the very same streets and lanes the ancients did, to explore their public buildings and private homes, and to experience and understand the city in its totality.

The location of Priene, on a forested slope between the towering cliffs of its acropolis to the North and the fertile plain that was once the wide Gulf of the Maeander to the South, is a place of immense charm, the ancient ruins set within a very beautiful and memorable natural scenery. The site is located in a much-travelled part of coastal Turkey, close to major tourist resorts at Didim and Ku?adas?, but nevertheless, it receives far fewer visitors than one would expect for such a famous site, rediscovered already in the 17th century and subject to extensive excavation and publication in the 19th and 20th. This lack of tourists is mostly due to the presence of the nearby archaeological sites of Miletus and Ephesus, both of which are more spectacular and monumental than Priene at first sight, but certainly not more instructive to the well-prepared or well-guided (!) traveller.

A well-built defensive wall surrounds the city.

A planned city

Like Lato and like Knidos, Priene appears in its present location quite suddenly, namely around 350 BC. Historical records indicate the existence of Priene since the 8th century BC, and the city’s coinage goes back to around 500 BC, but we have no idea so far where its original location was, although it is assumed to have lain somewhere to the west of the present site. Likewise, we cannot tell what might have instigated the move of an entire community, a major undertaking. The reasons could be strategic, political or economic in nature, or a sudden disaster like an earthquake or gradual topographic changes such as the silting up of the Maeander estuary might have triggered it. In any case, such relocations were fairly common at the time.

The West Street, with its central drain and solid pavement, is one of the city’s main axes.

Be that as it may, Priene as we know it now is the perfect model of a city from the Golden Age of Ancient Greek culture, its coherent design expressing the values, the ideology, the politics and the practicalities of urban life at the time. What is most striking about Priene is the clearly thought-out and coherent urban design underlying all its structures and their placement within the city boundaries.

Ironically, we owe the excellent preservation of Priene to its relative lack of success. The community that initially relocated to the site must have been an affluent one, as indicated by the grand scale of the city walls and its major public buildings, nearly all of them constructed or at least begun at the very start or within about 150 years from it, and all clearly looking forward to housing a thriving community. Apart from a slight upturn around the 2nd century AD, Priene never saw a second flourish throughout its 17 centuries of existence – it appears to have been abandoned only around AD 1300 – so that virtually no major constructions of later date obscure the original design, except a small Byzantine fortification and a 6th century church.

A stone-carved water distributor under a street, fed by clay pipe (foreground) and distributing the water into several further pipes.

City walls and street grid

Approaching Priene, the visitor first glimpses the main city wall as well as the fortified acropolis towering high above it. In both cases, the defenses follow the natural contours, quite logically making use of them to increase their effectiveness. As a result, the city proper is of an irregular, roughly ovoid shape, enclosed by a finely built wall with a number of towers and pierced by two gates. All the more striking is the layout within, dominated by a perfectly regular and rectangular grid of primary and secondary streets, set out in near-complete disregard of the natural topography to form a series of building blocks of equal shape and size (35 by 47m or 114 by 154ft, which equalled 120 by 160ft in the measurement system used then). Underneath the street plaster lies a system of pipes that supplied water from springs further uphill, as well as a network of drains to evacuate rainwater.

The 500-seat bouleuterion or council chamber, one of the best-preserved parliamentary chambers from antiquity.

The agora: politics and commerce

That regular grid structure is interrupted only rarely, most significantly at the town’s centre, the agora or market place, which occupies more than two of the regular blocks. As in any Greek city, the agora was Priene’s commercial and political centre, and it is one of the most instructive examples of its kind. An open area is lined by a series of colonnades or stoas, which would offer shelter from sun or wind, but also provide a clear definition of this key urban space. Behind them lay shops and markets. Within the square, a large altar indicates the central role of collective religious activity in the formulation of the city state's identity. In the same area, a series of inscribed statue bases show that important citizens were commemorated and honoured at the heart of the city.

Adjacent to the North of the agora, and reached through the “Sacred Stoa” are two structures that exemplify Priene’s political organisation. One of them, centred on a large courtyard, was the prytaneion, the official residence of the prytanes, the college of officials entrusted with the role of the city’s executive government at a given time. It also contained a large hearth, probably Priene’s eternal fire and sanctuary of Hestia, goddess of the hearth. Next to it lies the bouleuterion or council chamber. Looking like a rectangular theatre, this is still clearly recognisable as the city’s parliamentary chamber, and the best-preserved such structure from the ancient world. The close integration of these two structures with one another and with the agora underlines the transparency and democratic, or at least civic, legitimation that are characteristic of Greek city states.

The Temple of Athena, overlooked by the acropolis, the fortified upper citadel, far above.

Places of worship

The second major interruption of Priene’s grid system is its other heart, the sanctuary of Athena, set on a prominent rise supported by a massive terrace wall to the Northwest of the agora. This was the city’s chief shrine to its patron goddess, including a large and ornate open-air altar and the large Ionic Temple of Athena Polias (protector of the city) itself, one of Priene’s most prominent monuments then as now, not least due to the five re-erected columns. It is not difficult to imagine this large marble edifice gleaming in the Aegean sun, visible to travellers and seafarers far afield, signalling Priene’s piety, wealth and cultural ambition. Although the temple was begun when the city was refounded here, it was only completed five centuries later, perhaps indicating Priene’s financial difficulties.

The 6500-seat theatre with its well-preserved stage building.

The complex is not the only religious shrine in Priene. In fact, an exploration of the city is an admirably clear demonstration of ancient Greek polytheism with its series of cults. Other shrines at Priene include a small temple near the agora, perhaps dedicated to Zeus, the sanctuary of Demeter, goddess of agricultural fertility, on the slopes of the acropolis, a place of worship for the “Egyptian Gods” and one for Alexander the Great. Another god whose worship must have been important is Dionysos, god of wine and drama. The smallish 6500-seat theatre at Priene is one of the best-preserved and moreover one of the prettiest to be seen anywhere.

Changes over time in Priene’s religious habits are indicated by the discovery of a Roman-era synagogue – an extremely rare find, built into a private home – and by the presence of an early Christian church near the theatre.

Public buildings and private homes

Another typical feature of Classical Greek urban life is the central role afforded to education and athletic training for its male youth. Thus, a large gymnasium, which would have served both those purposes, is located at the southern edge of town, right beside the large stadium.

A collection of oil lamps from the homes of Priene, on display in the museum at Miletus.

All of these public buildings are well worth visiting, and all are typical examples of their type, instructive especially due to their fine preservation. None of them are per se unique, but the possibility to experience their totality that Priene offers is not given at any other site of the period. And there’s more: Priene is one of very few Greek cities that includes accessible and comprehensible remains of private homes, making it a key source for our understanding of the period’s domestic life.

The homes of Priene, all of roughly similar size and layout, were built of mud superstructures on stone foundations. Especially the western part of town merits exploration: around 140 BC the residential quarter there was destroyed by a fire and never rebuilt, leading to an unusually good preservation of the ground levels and their contents. Here, the visitor can make out the typical layout of entrance, courtyard, semi-covered spaces and ground-floor kitchens – the bedrooms were probably upstairs. Here and there, one recognises the andron, the formal dining room serving as the location of the symposium, the drinking party that was a key focus to male social life. Also visible are modifications made to houses during their use-life, including their enlargement through the incorporation of spaces from neighbouring homes, presumably indicating differing levels of affluence – a glimpse of ancient social history.

The terrace wall below the sanctuary of Athena.

Many daily-life objects were found within these homes including lamps, weaving equipment, parts of furniture and so on, but also small works of art. Some of them can be admired in museums at Miletus and at Berlin.

A visit to Priene is a vivid and beautiful experience of ancient urban life. Exploring the site is stepping into the past and gaining a lively and comprehensive understanding of an exemplary Greek city, directly approachable and at a human scale. You can visit Priene with our expert guides on our Cruising to Ephesus, along with Miletus, Ephesus and many other fascinating archaeological sites. In 2015, we are offering this tour twice: in June and September Cruising to Ephesus. The site is also one of many highlights on our newly-reintroduced epic 2-week cruise from Halicarnassus to Ephesus.

Theatre at Alinda - History

Little is known about Alinda before the 5th century B.C. but it may have been an important city since the second millennium B.C. and has been associated with Ialanti that appears in Hittite sources. It was one of the most strongly fortified cities of the Carian region.

In 340 B.C. Queen Ada, the sister of Mausolus of Halicarnassus (today's Bodrum) was banished by her younger brother Pixodarus to the city of Alinda. She awaited an opportunity to regain her lost kingdom. until, in 334 BC, Alexander the Great marched into Caria in order to clear the region from Persian threat. Ada visited the young conqueror with a proposal according to which she would surrender the city of Alinda to him and would help him in his campaign to conquer Caria. In return, Alexander was to restore the throne to Ada. But Alexander, pleased with her attitudes and perhaps enthralled just a bit by her feminine charms, refused to take Alinda from Queen Ada and instead, made her the ruler of all of Caria.

For a time Alinda was controlled by the Seleucids, Antiochus III sending a garrison here.

Alinda issued its silver coinage from the beginning of 2nd Century B.C. until the end of 3rd Century A.D.

Roman Aqueduct near the top of the site.

2 storey Square Tower. A bit of an enigma since it doesn't seem to have been a defensive tower. Maybe used to haul goods up the hill?

The Theatre from above. Built in the 2nd Century B.C. and modified in the time of Augustus.

Agora /Market building from above.

The Market building, which was 3 storeys high and 100m long, contained the Agora which was 30m square. The remains of the columns of the colonnade can be seen sitting on top of masonry bases. In other words, the paved area would have been level with where the picture was taken.

The outside of the market building - the other side of the picture above.

Ancient Memory of the Aegean Region

Having affected the fate of humanity, the imperishable traces of events on these cities keep guiding us today on our struggle to understand various kinds of lives. We continue to follow the trails of ancient and historical ruins in Turkey, with the Aegean Region unconquered lands, sparks blown to the ashes of an emperor’s vain power vacuum, trade centers and much more.

There are 77 ancient cities in Turkey identified as immovable cultural properties by the Ministry of Culture. This number will go up to 100 when the unlisted ones are included. We have carried the pearls of the Aegean and ancient values that this land has enshrined in its heart for centuries, to our pages for Marmara Life readers.

The Anatolian Trade Center Erythrai
During its time, the Ancient City of Erythrai had been the key location for trade due to its geographical position. Located on the coast of Izmir, it played a vital part for the regions of the Aegean, East Mediterranean and the Black Sea. As one of the prominent cities of the 12 major Ionian city-states, Erythrai comprises some remains from the Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic periods. Perhaps Erythrai’s location was not as suitable as that of Istanbul, yet it had harbors where sailboats from various regions approached to. Dating back to 3000 B.C. according to latest studies, the city had a strong relationship with the Phoenicians and apparently the two acted together on business operations of many regions. The city that acted as a distributor or a market that distributes products of the East in Ionia cooperated with other city-states while at power struggle with its neighbor Chios. Even Alexander the Great somehow crossed this land and it is believed that remains, such as the theatre and high city walls that you can encounter today, were built in his time with his help.

The City That Alexander could not defeat: Alinda
As far as we know, the city accomplishes great breakthrough during 4th century B.C. however rumor has it that its history might date back to 14th century B.C. It used to be a part of Seha River Land during the time of the Hittite king Mursilis II, but the one who was destined to bring it to its golden era was Queen Ada of Caria. As we mentioned, Alexander had conquered Alinda, and at that time Queen Ada was living in exile, in the city. Alexander failed to access the city walls and canceled the siege. Ada is an elderly woman and with her action one might assume she was a woman of wisdom. Taking advantage of Alexander’s failure, she took the Macedonians in greeted Alexander like a mother. She asked Alexander to leave Caria to her rule in exchange for Alinda’s surrender. Caria did not mean much to Alexander as he had his eyes on Persian lands. He must have thought that Alinda would have a more strategic function for him, for he accepted the offer. In the forthcoming years the name of the city had become indistinct. It had never witnessed another situation as important as the deal of Queen Ada and Alexander. Even if we do not talk of the high walls, the magnificent watch towers, the long aqueducts of Alinda or show its photographs, it is enough to say that Alexander the Great was not able to conquer the city, to express the city’s glory. You might not even feel the need to visit Aydin, Karpuzlu for that.

Hidden by the Mountains: Stylos Monastery
A hidden monastery lies deep in Latmos Mountain since it was hidden in between crags this temple where Arabian monks and saints stopped by had become a safe shelter to those who sought refuge from cruelty. In the 7th century, monks who ran away from Egypt and Mount Sina found this place suitable to live in if you walked by Stylos Monastery without the information of its location, you would not notice it either. The most crucial feature of this monastery near Karakuyu Village of Soke district in Mugla is that Young Paul once lived there. He was called Young Paul in order to avoid confusion with Apostle Paul. After living in a cave dedicated to Virgin Mary in Latmos Mountains for eight months, Paul went to Stylos and stayed there for 12 years. His tomb is located inside the ruined church. Stylos Monastery lost its function when the Turkic tribes of the East conquered the land, and nobody lived there after that.

History in the unmaking

EDITOR'S NOTE 3.15.21: The original version of this story reported that the Rochester Historical Society did not have a website. The society launched its website after the publication of this story, and references to it having none have been removed.

Out of sight and out of mind, Rochester’s oldest cultural institution is floundering, its storied collection shrinking and largely inaccessible to the public.

The Rochester Historical Society, founded 160 years ago, is almost broke. To pay the rent, it periodically sells off items its representatives say are superfluous to its mission of collecting and preserving records and artifacts important to the city’s history.

Meanwhile, the society doesn’t have a full inventory of its holdings, has a lone part-time employee, and has moved four times in the last 12 years. The last was in December, when the society quietly decamped to a cheaper space on University Avenue with less than half the square footage of its previous home.

Historians and museum officials have expressed deep concern, and in some cases outright anger, over the society’s stewardship of a ballyhooed collection that includes belongings of some of the city’s most prominent names, including Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, and Nathaniel Rochester.

“While it’s common for these institutions to operate on bare-bones budgets, the Rochester Historical Society seems to be a colossal failure, a disaster,” said Michael Leroy Oberg, a distinguished professor of history at SUNY Geneseo.

“It’s sad, because the resources they have are stunning,” Oberg added. “If they still have them.”

The state has been asked to look into the historical society’s collection-management practices, but officials in Albany declined to say if they are doing so. State regulators undertook a similar inquiry a dozen years ago though took no action.

Behind the scenes, movers in the local and state museum world have met several times with society leaders about mapping out a way forward, but none of those discussions have borne fruit there has been no infusion of cash, no sharing of staff, no facility adequate to showcase the collection.

“For years and years and years, there’ve been discussions about RHS struggling financially, struggling with their storage situation,” said Andrew Marietta, a vice president of the New York Council of Nonprofits, who took part in some of those discussions.

The society’s leaders have resisted interactions that they fear could lead to a splintering of the collection and are loath to lose control over an institution that has endured since the Civil War. While they acknowledge that money is very tight, they deny that the institution’s financial position is so dire as to warrant splitting up the collection.

“Each organization wants a piece of what we have but no one wants to take it on comprehensively,” said Alinda Drury, the society’s vice president. “The society is not in such dire straits that we have to think about divvying it up, and I think there are lot of people in the historical community that don’t want it divvied up.”

A big fear among society leaders, Drury said, is that ceding control to outside organizations could lead to state bureaucrats swooping in and some of Rochester’s most precious artifacts winding up elsewhere.

“We are trying our damnedest to make sure the collections stay more or less intact and in Rochester,” Drury said.

Rochester lacks a true museum of local history. The Rochester Museum and Science Center has large collections of historical material, but its public focus is more on science.

The Genesee Country and Susan B. Anthony museums are good at what they do, and the Landmark Society, George Eastman, Strong, Rush Rhees and others have collections that speak to the past. But none present collections broad enough, nor a mission ambitious enough, to tell the full story of the Rochester region.

  • A Post-it note marks the bust of Mortimer Reynolds that sits in a corner of the Rochester Historical Society's new home on University Avenue.

The Rochester Historical Society once filled that niche. Today, however, the society, which possesses more than 200,000 artifacts and papers, is quite literally stuck in the past.

The brainchild of the noted Rochester social scientist Lewis Henry Morgan, the society was founded by an act of the state Legislature in 1861. But it remained a paper organization until 1887, when the society was mobilized by Caroline E. Perkins, an active matron with an interest in history and philanthropy who had co-founded Rochester School for the Deaf.

Plans to rejuvenate the moribund group then were said to have been laid at a social affair in Perkins’ mansion on East Avenue — a fitting narrative considering that through much of its history the society was propped up by and run for the edification of wealthy east-side families.

Today, that legacy is an albatross. As those families fell away over time, so too did their largesse toward the society.

“There was a longstanding perception that Rochester Historical was an elite organization that was not public-facing. That was true,” said the society’s president, Carolyn Vacca, a professor who chairs the history department at St. John Fisher College. “That hurt the organization.”

In its early decades, the society played a prominent role in Rochester Society with a capital “S.” It hosted lectures by professional and amateur historians. It collected and preserved the personal papers of accomplished Rochesterians. It opened its collection to historical researchers.

But membership was by invitation only, and there is scant evidence that any of their lectures were open to the public. The collection in those days was lodged in a downtown bank building, then in the private Reynolds Library in a Corn Hill mansion.

That changed in 1912, however, when the society’s papers and growing collection of relics became centerpieces of the new Municipal Museum, a civic celebration of history, science, and industry fashioned from an old prison in Exposition (now Edgerton) Park. Papers were kept secure on site, and items were on display for public view.

Ten years later, the society began publishing bound volumes of historical research papers, a practice that would continue for the next quarter-century. Some papers were less erudite than others, and many trumpeted the lives of the city’s founders and other well-to-do white people to the exclusion of others. But they were nonetheless highly valued by those who study the history of the region.

Those years were the society’s heyday.

But in 1936, the city put the society out on its ear.

The museum at Exposition Park was closing, and those planning a new edifice on East Avenue — what would become the RMSC — wanted no part of the society’s version of local history. The museum’s powerful director, Arthur Parker, dismissed society officials as disorganized amateurs dabbling in history.

Facing homelessness, the organization fell back on benefactors and its old hidebound ways.

  • The East Avenue mansion “Woodside,” was the Rochester Historical Society's longtime home until 2008.

It moved temporarily to a small donated building on Lake Avenue until 1941, when a longtime member bequeathed a striking Greek Revival mansion at East Avenue and Sibley Place, known as “Woodside,” that would become the society’s most enduring home.

Woodside would house the collection and open to visitors from time to time. But at its heart, it would be, as the society’s president told the Democrat and Chronicle at the time, “a clubhouse for members, a pleasant place to meet one’s friends, to have a cup of tea by an open fire.”

To lay people who patronize museums, “deaccessioning,” the term for selling off pieces of a collection, is a dirty word. Attempts to dispose of high-profile works often stir controversy.

In fact, though, deaccessioning is a common practice that is typically reserved for moving items out of a collection that are no longer central to a museum’s mission in order for the museum to raise money to acquire new, more relevant pieces.

  • Seth Green's handmade tackle box at the Rochester Historical Society. Seth Green was pioneer in fish farming and established the first fish hatchery in the United States.

The Rochester Historical Society’s aggressive and opaque practice of deaccessioning over the last dozen years or so, however, has raised questions and eyebrows in New York museum circles.

“The sale of collections . . . has been a concern that I’ve heard from other organizations in Rochester and from the Museum Association of New York, for some time,” Marietta said.

Outside experts have asked the state historian to formally request an inquiry by the state Attorney General’s Office, according to Erika Sanger, executive director of the Museum Association, which is based in Troy, outside Albany.

The experts have raised questions both about the society’s deaccessioning practices and its overall collection management, she said.

Sanger said she did not know if State Historian Devin Lander made the request of the attorney general, and neither Lander nor the Attorney General’s Office would comment for this story.

Vacca insists there is no bad blood with Albany. “Devin Lander . . . is a big supporter of Rochester Historical,” she said. “We have not been under any kind of surveillance, or even in moderate disfavor with the state. They are nothing but supportive.”

Outsider experts complain that the society is secretive about its deaccessions and its collections-management policy, and wonder if the society is selling off too much without first offering other local museums a chance to acquire its surplus.

“I am not sure what processes the historical society is going through in order to deaccession the items from their collection that seem to have been sold over the past couple of years,” said Becky Wehle, president and chief executive of Genesee Country Village & Museum.

“It’s hard to say based on what we’re seeing, but there are certainly pieces in the Rochester Historical Society collection that should stay in museums. I would hope that if they got to the point of deaccessioning those, there would be a conversation with other museums,” she said.

Drury said that society officials have notified other museums if significant items are being deaccessioned but only so that those museums can bid on them at auction. The society doesn’t offer the materials directly to other museums, she said.


Society officials insisted they are deaccessioning properly, purging only items that are either duplicative or for which the society has been unable to establish a tie to Rochester. For instance, the society has deaccessioned firearms, pieces of furniture, silverware, paintings, and duplicates of clothing.

Daniel Cody, whose job as collections manager from 2010 to 2018 included recommending artifacts for deaccessioning, recalled coming across a collection of dozens of petticoats. “How many do you need?” he asked. “Do you need dozens of them? No.”

  • Rochester Historical Society archivist Bill Keeler found some wall space to hang paintings of Rochester in a stairway leading to the basement in the organization's new space.

In many cases, the society has no idea of the objects’ provenance. For all anyone knows of some items, they could be a souvenir some wealthy patron picked up on an overseas trip and gave to the society.

“There are many, many of these because, as I like to say, we were Grandma's attic, and long ago before there was all the systematic recordkeeping, people just dropped things off,” Vacca said. Because of state rules for deaccessioning, it can take more than a year to dispose of such items.

The society has roughly 1,000 paintings. Some of those that have been sold at auctions were 19th century images of people wealthy enough to commission a portrait, but nobody of an apparent consequence to Rochester.

The most valuable piece the Rochester Historical Society unloaded at auction was an oil painting by Boston artist Charles Sprague Pearce titled “A Peasant Girl” that fetched $63,500 nine years ago.

  • Boston painter Charles Sprague Pearce’s "A Peasant Girl," once held by the Rochester Historical Society, was sold and fetched $63,500 at auction.

The society primarily relies on two auction houses for deaccessioning: Cottone Auctions in Geneseo, Livingston County, and Schultz Auctioneers in Clarence, Erie County.

Cottone’s website lists 208 lots from the society that have been offered for sale at auctions dating back to 2012, the Pearce painting among them. Fine art, antique guns, ceremonial swords, none of which had any obvious connection to local history, also drew bids of thousands of dollars.

Still, the occasional appearance on eBay of items listed as being from the Rochester Historical Society has fueled persistent rumors that items have been stolen or were being sold under the table.

Vacca laughed off the speculation, explaining that those items were sold appropriately through auction houses and then offered for resale with the society’s ID tags still attached.

“People are convinced that we are somehow sneaking around and putting stuff out on eBay and selling off the collections, and none of that is true,” Vacca said.

While the society has never publicly documented its deaccessions, representatives said they provide the state historian with lists of all items that are sold, as required by regulations.

Cody, who kept the records related to deaccessioning during his time at the society, said he never heard about lists of items sold being sent to Albany. He also knew nothing of what society representatives described as a board committee to oversee the disposal of artifacts.

  • The society is in the process of deaccessioning items in the collection that representatives say have no direct link to Rochester.

More broadly, though, the society’s former collection manager said he worries the organization’s need for cash might be prompting the board to sell off items it should be keeping. He said he was dismayed to see an ornate wardrobe with local historical connections sold at one recent auction.

“The current board wants to reduce the size of the collection to what they can afford to store,” said Cody, now an adjunct faculty member at Finger Lakes Community College. “And they have only a few hundred members. How are they making money other than by deaccessioning?”

Exactly how much revenue deaccessioning generates for the society is not clear. The society would not provide a copy of its latest tax filing with the IRS, saying it was not complete.

The previous five annual filings, however, suggest the organization auctioned off artifacts worth an estimated $382,500 but netted just under $55,000 from those sales. Society officials attributed the gap to the cost of moving objects to auction, the percentage of the sales taken by auctioneers, and estimated values of items that may have been inflated.

Those figures don’t square with the sale prices on Cottone’s website, which are higher, or with Cody’s recollections.

Drury downplayed the take from deaccessioning, but she and Vacca make no bones about what they do with the money: They use it to help cover the society’s biggest expense — rent.

  • Carolyn Maruggi, a volunteer with the the Rochester Historical Society for over 10 years, sorts through old scrapbooks kept by Rochester families

Cody said deaccessioning revenue was never put to rent when he worked for the society, and both he and other museum experts questioned the appropriateness of the practice.

The state historian’s office declined to comment, saying it had no authority over the historical society’s actions, but referred to state museum regulations, which specify that funds generated by deaccessioning cannot be used for “operating expenses or for any purposes other than the acquisition, preservation, protection or care of collections.”

Vacca and Drury said they consider rent to constitute storage and conservation of the collection, and thus an acceptable use.

“Carolyn has checked with them (state officials) and there has not been an issue with them on that,” Drury said. “We have not been called to task for anything inappropriate.”

The society’s money troubles can be traced to around the turn of the millennium.

Woodside functioned as a meeting place for members as well as a “house museum” filled with period furniture and historic objects. It was open to the public for a small admission fee, but few people came.

  • Shoes made by a Rochester cobbler for his bride on their wedding day are part of the Rochester Historical Society's collection.

If they had, they might have been appalled. The 12,000-square-foot house, stuffed to the rafters with the society’s collection, was a mess and in disrepair.

“It was my job to walk around to make sure the squirrels hadn’t chewed another way into the building,” said Cody, who was an intern at Woodside in 2008.

The society, which then had a staff of two or three, had begun to spend more than it took in — a practice that its financial statements suggest has continued.
Something had to give.

In June 2007, the society’s board dismissed the executive director for overreaching and overspending. A year later, it proposed selling Woodside and moving the bulk of the collection to rented quarters in the Rochester Public Library’s Rundel Memorial Building.

Proponents of the sale said the proceeds would return the society to a sound financial footing, while Rundel would provide secure storage for its artifacts and allow new exhibits that would draw many new patrons.

Opponents on the board predicted the proceeds would be frittered away on rent and the society would wind up having to sell off its collection.

It was the biggest controversy in the society’s history.

Opponents sued to block the sale, and the state Department of Education, whose regents charter museums and oversee their work, began an investigation into the society’s stewardship of its collection.

A state judge ruled in November 2008 that the sale could proceed. Dissidents tried but failed to get the regents to remove the board, and the state probe came to nothing.

As opponents had warned, the move to Rundel proved financially disastrous. Rent ate up money, Vacca recalled, as did legal fees from the Woodsite fight and ambitious programming in the new space.

  • Busts of Hiram and Elizabeth Sibley sit among miscellaneous items at the Rochester Historical Society on University Avenue.

The society eventually stopped paying rent and in 2014, when its five-year lease expired, it had to leave Rundel. With its savings and income dwindling, the society began to hopscotch across the city.

First it stored its relics in the former Sibley Building, then undergoing renovation. When the owners asked them to leave, the society moved across town in 2016 to an old defense plant on Lincoln Avenue whose owner has carved out space for a variety of groups.

In December, the organization returned to its east-side roots, taking what Vacca called “a wonderful space” in a brick building on University Avenue near Culver Road.

It is, though, a much smaller space than previous quarters the society had to borrow space elsewhere in the building to fit all of its belongings. The room is below ground level with limited windows — anything but museum-quality storage.
The small size means deaccession will continue, if not accelerate.

“We’ll try to consolidate everything in the space we can afford,” Drury said.

  • The Rochester Historical Society archivist Bill Keeler sifts through old painting and drawings of locals collected over the years. The new location doesn't have wall space to hang all the works in wood stacks.

During a recent visit, it was crammed full of shelves of books and stacks of artwork for which there is no wall space. A pile of no-provenance artifacts destined for the auction block sat near the front.

Soon, Vacca said the society hopes to open what she called their “open-stack museum” to the public, with a few visitors at a time negotiating the steps. (There is no elevator.)

Some sort of public access is a must, and outside museum experts have pressed the historical society on this point.

“In their last two locations, public access has been very limited,” said Wehle, of the Genesee Country Village. “Organizations chartered by the state Board of Regents are required to have their collections accessible to the public. The access does not appear to be there right now for people to see the pieces in the collection that are significant.”

There have been a number of sit-downs in recent years with other museums and organizations looking to assist in some capacity. In 2016, talks about a merger or collaboration with Genesee Country Village came to naught.

In March 2019, outside museum officials sat for a meeting with the society that could be seen as an intervention. Lander, the state historian, took part via phone.

“Everyone that was in that room two years ago expressed that we’re deeply concerned that that collection has not been on view for years,” recalled Sanger, of the Museum Association, who was there.

Lack of funds has also hampered one basic undertaking that outside experts pressed for at that 2019 meeting — a full inventory of the society’s collection.
That remains a work in progress, Drury said. So does a project to combine various indices of the society’s documents into a single searchable index that could be put on the website for scholars and laypeople to use.


The society’s latest available financial filing shows it took in $70,000 in 2019 and spent $85,000. About $42,000 of its revenue came from contributions from members, who number several hundred. It had about $21,000 in the bank.

  • A bust of Abelard Reynolds, the architect of the Reynolds Arcade building downtown and Rochester's first postmaster, is in the collection of the Rochester Historical Society.

Vacca said the society has enough money to keep its head above water.

“We would not have moved to a new location without money to pay the rent. We are not flush but we are not broke,” she said.

The society recently held discussions with Vacca’s employer, St. John Fisher College, that resulted in a scholarship for Fisher students to work with the society’s collection.

Vacca said the college may be able to help it apply for foundation grants that would fund day-to-day operations.

Funding from local government would help, but Vacca and Drury said, somewhat resentfully, that appeals to the city and Monroe County have yielded nothing. Other historical organizations get such funding in Buffalo, government support allowed the historical society there to operate a full-fledged museum.

Drury acknowledged that the days of the society running the kind of museum where people can meander through exhibits are long gone. Instead, the society is looking to showcase small displays in their own space and in other public locations. Even that, though, will take new funding, Drury said.

Whether other museums and nonprofits in the Rochester region will be able to help — or be allowed to help — is uncertain.

Wehle said collaboration, if there is to be any, will have to start with transparency and open minds.

“The leadership of the historical society should share with the Rochester community what the state of their collection is and what their current financial situation is, so we can all work together to make sure their collections are available to those in the community who want to access them,” she said.

  • A vintage steel wagon from Hart’s grocery store circa 1900 sits on a shelf at the Rochester Historical Society’s new home on University Avenue.

Oberg, the SUNY professor, founded the college’s Geneseo Center for Local and Municipal History to promote and support organizations like the Rochester Historical Society. Rochester’s historical society.

“When you connect people to the history of what happened in their community,” he said, “they learn that they themselves are the forces of history, that their stories matter.”

The society should be making those connections for people in Rochester, he said.
“I think there are ways out of this with creative and energetic leadership,” Oberg said. “There are a lot of people who want to help. There are a lot of historians who would help but haven’t been asked. I don’t know how deep a hole they’re in, but they have treasures.”

Initial Allied and German moves [ edit | edit source ]

After the Italian government had signed an armistice, the Italian garrisons on most of the Dodecanese either wanted to change sides and fight alongside the Allies or just return to their homes. The Allies attempted to take advantage of the situation, but the Germans were ready. As the Italian surrender became apparent, German forces, based largely in mainland Greece, were rushed to many of the major islands to gain control. The most important such force, the Sturm-Division Rhodos swiftly neutralised the garrison of Rhodes, denying the island's three airfields to the Allies.

By mid-September, however, the British 234th Infantry Brigade under Major General F. G. R. Brittorous, coming from Malta, and SBS and LRDG detachments had secured the islands of Kos, Kalymnos, Samos, Leros, Symi, and Astypalaia, supported by ships of the British and Greek navies and two RAF Spitfire squadrons on Kos. The Germans quickly mobilised in response. Generalleutnant Friedrich-Wilhelm Müller, the commander of the 22nd Infantry Division at Crete, was ordered to take Kos and Leros on 23 September.

The British forces on Kos, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel L.R.F. Kenyon, numbered about 1,500 men, 680 of whom were from the 1st Bn Durham Light Infantry, 120 men from 11th Parachute Battalion, a number of men from the SBS and the rest being mainly RAF personnel, and ca. 3,500 Italians. On 3 October, the Germans effected amphibious and airborne landings (Unternehmen Eisbär, "Operation Polar Bear"), reaching the outskirts of the island's capital later that day. The British withdrew under cover of night, and surrendered the next day. The fall of Kos was a major blow to the Allies, since it deprived them of vital air cover. ΐ] The Germans captured 1388 British and 3145 Italian prisoners. Α] On 3 October, German troops executed the captured Italian commander of the island, Col. Felice Leggio, and 101 of his officers, according to Hitler's 11 September order to execute captured Italian officers. Β]


Alinda could have been an important city since the second millennium BC and has been associated with Ialanti that appears in Hittite sources (J. Garstang, p.𧆳).

It was this fortress which was held by the exiled Carian Queen Ada. She greeted Alexander the Great here in 334 BC.

The city could have been renamed "Alexandria by the Latmos" shortly afterwards, and was recorded as thus by Stephanus of Byzantium, although different sources raise different possibilities as to the exact location of the settlement of that name. The prior name of Alinda was restored by at least 81 BC. It appears as "Alinda" in Ptolemy's Geographia (Book V, ch. 2) of the 2nd century AD.

Alinda remained an important commercial city minting its own coins from the third century BC to the 3rd century AD. [1] Stephanus records that the city had a temple of Apollo containing a statue of Aphrodite by Praxiteles.

Alinda has a necropolis of Carian tombs and has been partially excavated. Alinda also had a major water system including a Roman aqueduct, a nearly-intact market place, a 5,000-seat Roman amphitheater in relatively good condition, and remains of numerous temples and sarcophagi. [2]

Ancient marvels in a monumental setting: Herakleia Latmos

Clearly, the natural landscape is not quite monumental enough - let's add some towers.

Have you ever heard of Kapıkırı? Almost certainly not: it is a small, poor and quite ramshackle village of a few stone houses, a few kilometres off the main road that links the seaside resorts of Bodrum and Didim in Western Turkey. The tourist infrastructure of Kapıkırı is limited to a few rent rooms, a simple restaurant or two, a shop and the typical teahouse found in every Turkish village, as well as some ladies selling honey, embroideries and other things by the roadside. None of that is unusual - but for many of the guests we take there on our cruise From Halicarnassus to Ephesus, the visit to Kapıkırı is a highlight of the trip!

A special place to visit

Not too many visitors find their way there so far - of the ones that do, many are hikers or mountain climbers. No wonder: Kapıkırı is certainly memorable and attractive in terms of its location. It overlooks the shore of Lake Bafa, the largest inland body of water in this part of the country, and is overlooked in turn by the rugged Beşparmak Mountains. Indeed the landscape in which Kapıkırı stands is surreal and stupendous, consisting of huge rocks, many the size of houses, polished smooth by millennia of exposure.

Byzantine fortifications, built upon more ancient ones, by the shoreline.

So, the spot would certainly justify, say, a glass of Turkish tea to be consumed in that enchanting setting. But that's not why we go there: there's more to the place. Already on the road approaching the village, the visitor will spot well-built but long-abandoned walls, towers, and numerous rock cuttings, slowly revealing that the entire landscape is packed with the remains of what was once a great city, reaching from fortifications on the little offshore islands via massive foundations in the area of the modern village, to further structures scattered on the rocky slopes higher up, often in seemingly absurd locations.

A lost city and a lost sea

Kapıkırı sits on the centre of what used to be Herakleia, to be precise: Herakleia-by-Latmos (Herakleia pros Latmou in Greek, or Heraclea ad Latmum in Latin). That rider was used because the name Herakleia, derived from the hero and demi-god popular all over the Greek world and beyond, was quite common, so a specifier was added: Latmos (or Latmus) is the ancient name for the Beşparmak Mountains.

A map illustrating how the coastline of southern Ionia and northern Caria has changed since antiquity. The Latmian Gulf is centre right. (Original by Eric Gaba, Wikimedia Commons.)

Today, the relative poverty and simple houses of the modern village stand in striking contrast to the grandeur and the sheer monumentality of the ancient remains visible all around. Indeed, the location strikes the visitor as an unlikely spot for a once great and affluent city. How could an urban community have thrived here for centuries?

The reason for this strangeness is found in the profound changes the Turkish coastline has undergone since antiquity. In Greek (and Roman) days, Herakleia was a seaport! What is now Lake Bafa was a part of the Aegean Sea known as the Latmian Gulf (Latmiakos Kolpos), entered through a wide mouth separating the famous cities of Miletus and Priene. Millennia of soil deposition by the river Maeander have since closed it off, creating an enclosed lake and stifling the economic potential of its shores.

A view of the mountains across the modern village.

Caria and the Greeks

Herakleia is located in the region known as Caria in antiquity. There is a local Anatolian settlement not far uphill from the ancient city, most likely its direct predecessor. Like all of western Anatolia, and especially the region of Ionia just to the north, Caria received a growing cultural influence from Greece from the 9th century BC onwards, including Greek "colonies", Greek-style cities founded by emigrants from the Greek mainland or islands. Nonetheless, Herakleia as we now see it was only founded in the 4th century BC - and we don't (yet) understand the details of how that happened or who instigated it, although Mausollos, the famous ruler of Halicarnassus, a little further south, is a candidate, as are the various rulers succeeding Alexander the Great after his conquest of Anatolia a generation later.

Quite an investment: wall and two of the over forty towers of Herakleia.

The foundation of new cities, or the refoundation of existing ones, was a common trend in the area at the time. Usually, this entailed the decision to relocate the inhabitants of pre-existing settlements at a newly chosen or already settled site, thus urbanising an area and creating Greek-style cities as local centres of economy and power. Examples of such "new" cities are common they include Rhodes, Kos, Knidos and Priene. The resettlement could be variously voluntary or forced, for Herakleia we simply don't know. It is certain, though, that the newly founded settlement was much larger than its predecessor. It is also clear that it was provided with a staggeringly monumental public infrastructure, especially in terms of city defences, but also of public buildings and shrines, that must have been way beyond the means of the locals.

Herakleia existed as a city for quite a long time, perhaps as long as the 10th century AD, some 13 centuries after her foundation. The city's final abandonment is probably due to the closing of the Latmian Gulf, stifling her economic potential forever.

Extraordinarily well-preserved: the substructure of the agora at Herakleia,

Another model city and its monuments

Resulting from her artificial foundation, and also from the fact that she seems to have thrived most in the centuries immediately after and received little alteration during her existence, combined with the virtual absence of later occupation (except the small and recent village), Herakleia is unusually well-preserved. The site is a typical example of a planned Hellenistic town, with a rectilinear street grid defining residential areas, public squares and shrines - all the features and spaces that define Greek urbanism. In her stupendous setting, Herakleia is a true marvel, a unique and vast open-air museum.

There is so much to see. Kapıkırı village is rattling around within the confines of the much larger ancient city, occupying its very centre. The core of the modern village and the ancient city alike is a large flat area interrupting the terrain's natural slope, clearly created artificially. Today, it serves as school yard and car park, but it is actually the ancient agora, the marketplace and civic centre of ancient Herakleia. Measuring an impressive 60 by 130m (200 by 425 ft), it is supported by massive terrace walls that supported shops and contained their basements, which are still preserved extensively. You are looking at the foundations of an ancient shopping centre.

The temple of Athena at Herakleia.

Overlooking the agora from a very striking natural outcrop is the shell of a single-roomed ancient temple, a fairly typical example of its kind. Made of local rock, it would have been clad in fine marble and embellished by a columned porch in antiquity, but even without those it still dominates its surroundings. It was most likely dedicated to Athena. Also near the agora are the remains of the bouleuterion, the ancient council chamber, now set in a private home's back garden, the scant remains of the councillors' seats frequented by chickens, donkeys and cats.

The bucolic bouleuterion (or council chamber) of Herakleia.

Monuments, walls and graves - and 50 babies

Walking (or scrambling further), there is more to be discovered. The area of the ancient city contains more public buildings from many periods, among them the remains of the theatre, Roman baths and a nymphaion (spring house), as well as a gymnasium (an athletic training ground surrounded by porticoes). A little south of the agora, an unusual structure with a curved back wall and a columned porch is suspected to be the sanctuary of the shepherd demi-god Endymion, who was believed to be from the area. In legend, the moon goddess Selene took a shine to him (pun intended). As she could not quite make him immortal, she extended his life indefinitely by putting him to eternal sleep in a local cave, interrupted by her nightly visits, as a result of which she bore 50 children by him. The sanctuary supposedly marks the site of the cave where he slept (or still sleeps).

Nearly fully-preserved: one of the over 40 towers in the city walls of Herakleia.

The most visually arresting feature of ancient Herakleia, however, must be its incredible city walls. They are among the best-preserved of their kind (we have recently presented other spectacular 4th century BC examples here, those of Messene and Loryma, but Herakleia can easily compete), extending for more than 6 km (3.7mi), with over 40 towers. The walls still stand to a height of over 6m (20ft) in places, the towers even higher. The locations of the towers is often mind-boggling: using the natural terrain's monumental outcrops, some of them seemingly teeter on impossible brinks. The strange thing about this very monumental set of city walls (the founders of Herakleia certainly wanted the city to be safe!) is that in spite of their impressive dimensions, the even more monumental landscape makes them look like some forgotten giant's left-behind playthings.

A rock-cut grave at Herakleia.

Immediately beyond the walls, the visitor will, on a first look, spot the occasional rectangular cutting in the rock, often placed in locally prominent outcrops. Having noticed first one, then another two or three, he or she will soon realise there are dozens, hundreds, even thousands, surrounding the city walls. These are - quite simply - rock-cut graves, as usually placed outside the confined of the city. Their large number witnesses the long existence of Herakleia.

More to explore

For the more intrepid explorer and walker (the Carian Trail passes through Herakleia), there's even more to discover. A few minutes uphill from Herakleia are the scant ruins of the Carian predecessor settlement. Also, the area contains dozens of caves, some with prehistoric paintings, others with Byzantine frescoes. Truly committed hikers can also seek out the remains of multiple Byzantine monasteries high up in the Beşparmak mountains to the north. From the 7th century onwards, that area was settled by monks from Mt Sinai and, for a short time, functioned as a "Holy Mountain", not unlike Athos in Greece still does.

We show Herakleia to our visitors on From Halicarnassus to Ephesus, an epic 2-week cruise taking in some of the most famous archaeological highlights in Western Turkey, but also less well-frequented gems like this one.

Watch the video: #Alinda Ancient City


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