A natural haven on the S coast of the Black Sea (Pontos Euxeinos), the first of any importance E of the Bosporus. Herakleia was a Megarian colony founded ca. 558 B.C. in Mariandynian territory on the E margin of Bithynia. It founded colonies of its own in the late 6th c. at Kallatis and Chersonnesos on the opposite shore of the Euxine, as well as emporia along the coast W towards the Bosporus. In addition, it established a small land empire by reducing the Mariandynoi to helotage and subjecting the small Greek cities of Sesamos, Tios, and Kieros. In the early 3d c. B.C. this subject territory seceded, but was restored to Herakleia ca. 278 B.C. by Nikomedes I of Bithynia. In the early 2d c. this same territory was lost to Prousias I of Bithynia, though Herakleia itself was still independent when Bithynia was annexed by Rome in 74 B.C. It proceeded to slaughter a group of Roman publicani and submitted to Mithridates VI Eupator of Pontus, but was captured by Cotta and devastated in 70 B.C. In Pompey's settlement of the joint province of Bithynia-Pontus (64 B.C.), Herakleia was transferred from the Bithynian to the Pontic portion and was henceforth known as Herakleia in Pontus. A colony was established there by Julius Caesar, and the remainder of the city presented by Antony to a Galatian prince, Adiatorix, who massacred the coloni and was removed by Octavian. Under the Empire Herakleia became metropolis of the coastal cities of Pontus.
Herakleia's mythical founder Herakles was said to have reached the underworld through a cavern on Baba Burnu (Acherousia pr.), a headland 2 km NW of Eregli. The harbor, praised by Strabo (12.542), lay close in under this headland, which protected it from NE storms. There were two moles, and the lighthouse, known from coins, presumably stood (like its modern counterpart) on the tip of Baba Burnu. The Greek city lay on the flat ground beside the harbor, with a citadel rising on the SE side. All but one short length of the walls has disappeared, as has the Roman temple seen by Ainsworth. The area of the harbor and much of the Greek city are made inaccessible by a Turkish naval base; and the citadel, similarly, by a Turkish shore battery. The modern town, on the S and W slopes of the citadel hill, contains many Roman and Byzantine inscribed and sculptured stones, but its walls are mediaeval. It is not clear whether the Roman city lay here or on the site of the original Greek colony. Farther SE another Roman temple was visited by Ainsworth and von Diest, and an aqueduct was visible to Perrot. The amphitheater (shown on coins) has not been located. (D. R. WILSON)
Info: Princeton Encyclopedia
(Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites, from Perseus Project)