Klazomenai (or Clazomenae) was one of the many Greek cities that dotted the coast of Ionia, i.e. the western coast of
Originally the city was located on an island and it is said that Alexander the Great connected it with
the mainland by building a causeway whose remains are still visible. It makes
me wonder if this was an exercise in view of the major dam he built about a
year later when he besieged Tyre. Turkey
Klazomenai, founded about 6,000 years ago, underwent the same fate as so many of its neighbors, suffering in the 5th century BC attacks from the Lydians subject to
till they revolted
during the Peloponnesian War. In 387 BC the city fell under Persian rule, to be
taken by Alexander when he arrived
here in 334 BC. In Roman times, it became part of the province of Athens Asia, enjoying an exceptional immunity from taxation.
Most people may however link the city to the philosopher Anaxagoras of Clazomenea who was born here around
500 BC and the first to bring philosophy to . Athens
Since 2000, diving excavations at modern Klazomenai, roughly
20 miles west of , revealed the presence of many
ship remains ranging from the 7th century BC to Ottoman time. An Ottoman ship
from the 17th century, for instance, was transporting an estimated thousand plates
from the Izmir – proof of the heavy commercial
exchanges that existed at that time. Plans are to start removing the Dutch
plates which are believed to be really valuable. In a second step, the remaining
parts of the ship will be brought to the surface, requiring their own
restoration and conservation. In the end, the archeologists hope to exhibit the
ship with its plates inside, just as it was found originally. Dutch Republic
This operation is not a first, of course, for the diving and reconstruction of the shipwreck of Uluburun, now at the Archaeological Museum of Bodrum (see The shipwreck of Kizilburun) and recent excavations at Yenikapi during the construction of
’s Marmaray Project served as examples. The
authorities hope to exhibit the Ottoman ship from Klazomenai in nearby Istanbul
in a specially monitored room. Urfa
The wide range of rescued artifacts needs desalination before being exhibited, as they would otherwise easily disintegrate - a lengthy and meticulous job. To this purpose a new advanced laboratory will be opening next year. Meanwhile another ship has been located by fishermen about
400 meters from the
excavation site, so there is more work to do. Eventually, the entire pier of Klazomenai, which is still underwater
offshore, could be unearthed.
Klazomenai was famous for its olive oil and its painted terracotta sarcophagi that ranged among the finest of its kind in the 6th century BC. It is interesting to hear that it was here that the only surviving example of a level and weights press was found. It has recently been reconstructed through a close collaboration of
a Turkish olive oil exporter and local artisans resulting in the production of high
quality oil even according to our modern standards. It’s hard to imagine. Ege University
The city was also prized for its garum (fermented fish sauce generally used as a spice) a delicacy that was especially valued by the Romans.
Another story about Klazomenai has come to us through Aristotle, who mentioned that its citizens were financial pioneers in economic history. When they suffered from a shortage of grain and money around 350 BC, the city officials called on the people to pass a resolution to loan them their oil supplies against interest. It so happened that they could purchase grain against the pledged security of the value of their oil.
Enough fascinating stories to go around and it is up to us to prove what is historically correct and what is not. For instance, I have no way to check the sources used by Wikipedia about Alexander building a causeway here and I personally have not heard about it before. It is entirely possible that he stopped at Klazomenai on his march along the west coast of
so … who knows … Maybe there is somebody out there who can tell me?
[Pictures: Remains of a vessel dating from the seventh-century B.C Greek perfume vase in the form of a head of a helmeted warrior from Archeology News Network]