The ruins of ancient Nysa lie a few kilometers beyond ths present village of Sultanhisar on the south slope of Mt. Jvlessogis. The site Is on the Izmir-Denizli highway, not far from Aydın, in the lovely valley of the Büyük Menderes River, formerly the Meander.
History Of Nysa
The city was founded by Şeleucid kings in the third century B.C. The names of the actual founders are uncertain, Strabo, who lived and studied in Nysa, and left a detailed account of life In the cityj maintains that it was settled by Spartan kings, He apparently echoed the belief of the people of Nyso. But other evidence Indicates that the Seieucids were In fact the original settlers. During the Mithridatic War in 88-85 B.C., when in most of Caria Mithridates was welcomed as a liberator, o wealthy Nysaean had the bad luck
to support the Romans. Chaerlmon, as he was called, offered. 60,000 bushels of wheat to the commander of the Roman forces to feed to tfts troops. Mithridates, greatly angered by this move, put a price of 40 talents on Ch’aerlmon’s head if taken alive and 20 if dead. The unfortunate citizen was not even safe from Mithridates wrath in the sanctuary of Ephesian Artemis where he sought to hide. He was found and killed. Not much else is known about the part Nysa played in historical events. It is best known for its cultural and religious activities.
Strabo, as mentioned before, made his home here and studied under the distinguished philosopher Aristodemus. According to Strabo, this scholar taught rhetoric and grammer twice daily in the city. In addition, he taught Pompey’s children in Rome, and on Rhodes he established another school. A number of other orators and philosophers lived in the city, as weil. A heaiing sanctuary of Pluto was located near Nysa, and this accounted to a large extent for the importance that the city enjoyed. The sanctuary complex was near the small village of Acharara. and included the Plutoneum, a temple of Pluto and Persephone, god and goddess of the underworld, and the Charonium, a cave where the sick went to be cured by these gods. According to Strabo, the sick were often left in the cave for several days without food. Others stayed in the village where priests ordered cures for them dictated by’ theirs or- the patients’ dreams. It appears that the curative powers attributed to this sanctuary came from ihe sulpur springs which exist there to this day. The area was only for the sick and, in fact, was considered dangerous for all others. Strabo mentions a festival which was held there, in which a bull was taken to the mouth of the cave, released, and having entered the cave, it dropped dead in its tracks.
Ruins Of Nysa
The city of Nysa was unique in that it was built on both sides of a ravine made by a mountain stream, An amphitheater straddled the stream, and a bridge connected the two parts of the city. Excavations have been carried out on several of the ruins and on the Plutonium,
The Theater: The theater has been excavated and is in fairly good repair. Most of the seats in the cavae are intact. The Roman stage-building has been undergoing excavation. A new road leads from Sultanhisar to the theater. Below the theater can be seen a tunnel about 100 meters long through which the stream ran.
The Amphitheater and Bridge: Strabo refers to a large structure built over the stream, the water flowing underneath. This would have been the bridge and amphitheater. Unfortunately, nothing much remains of them.
The Gymnasium : A gymnasium was located on the western slope of the raviné. Of it, very little is visible.
The Council: House and Agora : These two structures are on the eastern side of the ravine. Ar that remains of the Agora are a few columns and column stumps. Most of it has not been excavated. The council house is the best preserved building to be seen. Excavations have been completed and the plan of the building, with its twelve rows of seats and five stairways is entirely visible. The speakers platform and three entrances can also be recognized. Outside are eight columns, a bathing pool and a marble bath, it’s, drainage hole is also obvious.
The Library: Strabo does not mention a library, but one stands on the site. It remains unexcavated and is thought to dote to the second century A.D. It apparently had two or three floors, although the ground floor is almost completely buried; the top floors are lost. From the remains, the plan of the first floor has been determined The book shelves were located on either side of the reading room, and were separated from the outer walls by hallways. This was to keep the books dry, or so i.i has been conjectured. Other buildings of later date are also scattered about the site, but their uses have rilit yet been determined.
The Plutonium Complex : The site is accessible from the town of Ciftekahveler on the main road. The ancient roagl which led from Nysa through Acharacc is no longer usable. A road leads from Ciftekahveler to Salovatli, and the site is nearby. Part of the Plutonium has been excavated, and from the findings, a tentative plan of the building reveals that it had several remarkable features There were iix columns ot each end and twelve on either side, and the entrance was on the north. These are both unusual. The interior also was unconventional, with two waifs running parallel’ to each other the length of the building. Very little, however, remains of this structure. The Charonlum or cave, mentioned earlier, has hot been exactly located. The source of a sulphur spring Is to the west though, and on the slopes of the gully formed by the stream are some buildings of typical Nysaean construction. It is possjble that this was the site of the healing cave.