It is thought that Priene was first founded in the tenth century B.C. by the Carians, who inhabited this region before the great Ionian migration. In the ninth century B.C. a group of immigrants from Greece conquered Priene with the help of the Ephesians. According to Strabo, the city was founded by Aipythus, son of the Athenian Neleus. In the seventh century B.C. ihe Prienians were obliged to accept the domination of the Lydians, but, thanks to the freedom allowed them by the king of Lydia, the commercial and cultural life of the city was in no way hampered. After the Persians’ victories over the Lydians in 546 B.C., the city wos plundered and the Prienians came under the Persian yoke. At the beginning of the fifth century B.C. the Persian ¡yra.nny provoked the Ionian Revolt, and Priene, jonining the uprising, sent 12 ships to the battle oJ the island of Lode in 494 B.C. The city of Priene was founded again under an Athenian protectorate, in 350 B.C. on four terraces on the southern slope of Mycale (Samsun Dag). But she continued her commercial activities by means of a small harbor four kilometers away. (Priene Is now fifteen kilometers from the sea). The most important remains of this last city have been excavated on the two middle terraces.
Alexander the Great, who conquered the Persians at the battle of Granicus (Biga Cayi) in 334 B.C., invaded Asia Minor and, despite the resistance of Miletus and certain others, liberated the Ionian cities. Thanks to the gold obtained from the Poctolus River, a tributary of the Hermes, the Macedonian King was able to rebuild the temple of Athena in Priene at his own expense. Priene, subject to the Kings af Pergamun after the defeat of Antlochus III in 190 B.C., fell under Roman domination in 129 B.C. and was annexed to the province of Asia, Later Priene, like many cities of Asia Minor, was occupied by the Pontic King Mithridates in the years 88 – 84 B.C. The city then regained her former luxury under Augustus, and for this reason he was honored in the Temple of Athena.
Like Ephesus and Miletus, Priene became further and further from the sea as a result of the alluvial deposit of the Meander, and a decline set in. In Byzantine days, her position as the center of one of the important churches did not suffice to change her fortunes and the decline continued. At the beginning of the 14 th century, when Turkish domination was firmly established, Priene was reduced to the status of an insignificant town.
Bias, one of the Seven Sages of ancient Greece, was born in Priene, in the 6th century B.C. According to Plutarch, this man was sent as an ambassador to Samos during the struggle between Priene, Miletus and SamoS, Again according to Plutarch, the King of Egypt sent a wicked subject to the philosopher and requested that he should cut off his most harmful limb: Bias cut out his tongue and sent him back to the King, When Cyrus’ generals captured Priene, the inhabitants escaped with their most valuable possesions. But Bias felt no sorrow at leaving. «AD I have I carry with me», he said, explaining that his most valuable possessions were ¡(Wisdom and Thought».