Founded on the north side of the Adramyttian gulf by Aeolian colonists from nearby Methymna on Lesbos, in the 8th century BC. Its heyday came in the 4th century BC. It was then that a philosophical school was founded in Assos, where Aristotle, Xenokrates and Theophrastos taught. From 241 until 133 BC it belonged to the kingdom of Pergamon and after that became subject to Rome. Visited by the Apostle Paul in AD 56/7. The fortified enceinte of the city with gateways and 12 towers has survived (mid-4th and late 3rd centuries BC). Dominating the top of the acropolis hill are the ruins of the Doric temple of Athena (c. 530 BC), from where there is a panoramic view of the Aegean. Some columns have been restored, while many architectural members are dispersed all around. The relief plaques of the frieze, with mythological scenes, are nowadays in Istanbul, Paris and Boston. The ruins of the Hellenistic agora, in stepped arrangement on terraces (3rd-2nd century BC), include a two- and three-storey stoa, a bouleuterion in the Doric order, cisterns and a heroon. At the W edge of the agora are the foundations of a small temple. The site of the theatre is known. The gymnasium has been uncovered on the W side of the city. Assos had two man-made harbours, traces of which can be discerned under the modern mole. E of the defensive wall spread the cemeteries with funerary monuments and unfinished sarcophagi (mainly Roman). An ancient paved road passed through here, leading N to a stone bridge over the river Tuzla (ancient Santioeis).
Five Early Christian basilicas have been excavated. A large three-aisled basilica on the site of the gymnasium. A basilica, of which some columns and the sanctuary apse have survived, was built in the cella of the ancient temple in the agora. There are ruins of another three basilicas S of the gymnasium, E of the theatre and at the W end of the funerary way. Remains of an Early Christian building, perhaps a church or a bath, next to the Roman bath S of the agora.
Info: Archaeological Atlas of the Aegean
(Archaeological Atlas of the Aegean, Ministry of the Aegean)