Nysa on the Maeander

Nysa on the Maeander (Greek: Νύσα or Νύσσα) was an ancient city and bishopric of Asia Minor (now Anatolia, Asian Turkey), whose remains are in the Sultanhisar district of Aydın Province of Turkey, 50 kilometres (31 mi) east of the Ionian city of Ephesus, and which remains a Latin Catholic titular see.

At one time it was reckoned as belonging Caria or Lydia,[1][2] but under the Roman Empire it was within the province of Asia, which had Ephesus for capital, and the bishop of Nysa was thus a suffragan of the metropolitan see of Ephesus.[3][4][5]

Nysa was situated on the southern slope of mount Messogis, on the north of the Maeander, and about midway between Tralles and Antioch on the Maeander. The mountain torrent Eudon, a tributary of the Maeander, flowed through the middle of the town by a deep ravine spanned by a bridge, connecting the two parts of the town.[6][7][8][9][10][11] Tradition assigned the foundation of the place to three brothers, Athymbrus, Athymbradus, and Hydrelus, who emigrated from Sparta, and founded three towns on the north of the Maeander; but in the course of time Nysa absorbed them all; the Nysaeans, however, recognise more especially Athymbrus as their founder.[12][6]

Νῦσα (in Greek)
Nysa, Anatolia
The theatre of Nysa
Nysa on the Maeander is located in Turkey
Nysa on the Maeander
Shown within Turkey
LocationSultanhisar, Aydın Province, Turkey
Coordinates37°54′06″N 28°08′48″E / 37.90167°N 28.14667°ECoordinates: 37°54′06″N 28°08′48″E / 37.90167°N 28.14667°E


In Greek mythology, Dionysus, the god of wine was born or raised in Nysa or Nyssa, a name that was consequently given to many towns in all parts of the world associated with cultivation of grapes.[2] The name "Nysa" is mentioned in Homer's Iliad (Book 6.132-133), which refers to a hero named Lycurgus, "who once drove the nursing mothers of wine-crazed Dionysus over the sacred mountains of Nysa".

The town derived its name of Nysa from Nysa, one of the wives of Antiochus I Soter, who reigned from 281 to 261 BC and founded the city on the site of an earlier town called Athymbra (Ἄθυμβρα),[13] a name that continued in use until the second half of the 3rd century BC, but not in the earliest coinage of Nysa, which is of the next century.[1][14] According to Stephanus of Byzantium, the town also bore the name Pythopolis (Πυθόπολις).[15]

Tr nysa
The Library of Nysa

Nysa appears to have been distinguished for its cultivation of literature, for Strabo mentions several eminent philosophers and rhetoricians; and the geographer himself, when a youth, attended the lectures of Aristodemus, a disciple of Panaetius and grandson of the famous Posidonius, whose influence is manifest in Strabo's Geography]; another Aristodemus of Nysa, a cousin of the former, had been the instructor of Pompey.[6][16] Nysa was then a centre of study that specialized in Homeric literature and the interpretation of epics. Nysa was ruled by the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire, the Roman Empire and its continuation, the Byzantine Empire and by the Turks, until its final abandonment after being sacked by Tamerlane in 1402. The coins of Nysa are very numerous, and exhibit a series of Roman emperors from Augustus to Gallienus.

Ecclesiastical history

Hierocles classes Nysa among the sees of Asia, and its bishops are mentioned in the Councils of Ephesus and Constantinople.[10] Nysa became a suffragan of its provincial capital's metropolitan Archdiocese of Ephesus, I the sway of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Of the Byzantine bishops of Nysa in Asia, several are historically documented:[3][4][5]

Titular see

The diocese was nominally restored in 1933 as Latin Titular bishopric of Nysa in Asia (Latin) / Nisa di Asia (Curiate Italian) / Nysæus in Asia (Latin adjective),[17] of the Episcopal (lowest) rank, but it remains vacant, never having had an incumbent.


Architrave of the Nysa's Bouleuterion
Architrave fragment from the Bouleuterion of Nysa

There are important ruins on the site from the Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine periods. The well-preserved theatre, built during the Roman Imperial period, is famous for its friezes depicting the life of Dionysus, god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine. It has a capacity 12,000 people. The library dating from the 2nd century A.D. is considered to be Turkey's second-best preserved ancient library structure after the "Celsus Library" of Ephesus. The stadium of Nysa, which suffered from floods and is therefore partially damaged, has a capacity of 30,000 people. The bouleuterion (municipal senate), later adapted as an odeon, with 12 rows of seats, offers room for up to 600-700 people. Other significant structures include the agora, gymnasion and the Roman baths. The 100 m long Nysa Bridge, a tunnel-like substructure, was the second largest of its kind in antiquity.[18]


  1. ^ a b Bean, G.E. (1976). The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites. Tufts University, Princeton, N.J. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  2. ^ a b Smith, William. "Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854)". Perseus. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  3. ^ a b Michel Lequien, Oriens christianus in quatuor Patriarchatus digestus, Paris 1740, Vol. I, coll. 705-708
  4. ^ a b Pius Bonifacius Gams, Series episcoporum Ecclesiae Catholicae, Leipzig 1931, p. 444
  5. ^ a b Pascal Culerrier, Les évêchés suffragants d'Éphèse aux 5e-13e siècles, in Revue des études byzantines, vol. 45, 1987, p. 158
  6. ^ a b c Strabo. Geographica. xiv. p.650. Page numbers refer to those of Isaac Casaubon's edition.
  7. ^ Homeric Hymn 4.17
  8. ^ Pliny. Naturalis Historia. 5.29.
  9. ^ Ptolemy. The Geography. 5.2.18.
  10. ^ a b Hierocles. Synecdemus. p. 659.
  11. ^ Stephanus of Byzantium. Ethnica. s.v.
  12. ^ Stephanus of Byzantium. Ethnica. s.v. Ἄθυμβρα.
  13. ^ Stephanus of Byzantium. Ethnica. s.v.v. Ἀντιόχεια, Ἄθυμβρα.
  14. ^ Getzel M. Cohen, The Hellenistic Settlements in Europe, the Islands, and Asia Minor (University of California Press, 1996: ISBN 0-520-08329-6), p. 257.
  15. ^ Stephanus of Byzantium. Ethnica. s.v. Πυθόπολις.
  16. ^ Cicero Fam. 13.6.4.
  17. ^ Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013 ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), p. 941
  18. ^ Klaus Grewe, Ünal Özis et al.: "Die antiken Flußüberbauungen von Pergamon und Nysa (Türkei)", Antike Welt, Vol. 25, No. 4 (1994), pp. 348–352 (352)

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSmith, William, ed. (1854–1857). "Nysa". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. London: John Murray.

Sources and external links

Bibliography - ecclesiastical history
  • Pius Bonifacius Gams, Series episcoporum Ecclesiae Catholicae, Leipzig 1931, p. 444
  • Michel Lequien, Oriens christianus in quatuor Patriarchatus digestus, Paris 1740, Vol. I, coll. 705-708
  • Pascal Culerrier, Les évêchés suffragants d'Éphèse aux 5e-13e siècles, in Revue des études byzantines, vol; 45, 1987, p. 158

Further reading

  • Walther von Diest: Nysa ad Maeandrum, nach Forschungen und Aufnahmen in den Jahren 1907 und 1909, Reimer, Berlin 1913 (Jahrbuch des Kaiserlich Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Erg.-Heft 10)
  • Vedat İdil: Nysa ve Akharaka = Nysa and Acharaca, Istanbul 1999, ISBN 975-6934-04-2
  • Musa Kadioğlu, 'Die scaenae frons des Theaters von Nysa am Maeander. Diss. University of Freiburg im Breisgau 2002
  • Musa Kadıoğlu: Die Scaenae Frons des Theaters von Nysa am Mäander. von Zabern, Mainz 2006. (Forschungen in Nysa am Mäander; 1) ISBN 3-8053-3610-1.
  • Musa Kadıoğlu, Der Opus Sectile-Boden aus dem Gerontikon-Bouleuterion von Nysa ad Maeandrum, in: Asia Minor Studien, Band 34, 1999, 175-188. Taf. 34-35; in Turkish: “Menderes Nysası Bouleuterion-Gerontikon'u Opus Sectile Döşemesi”, in: Türk Arkeoloji ve Etnografya Dergisi, 1, 2000, 9-16.
  • Musa Kadıoğlu – Philip von Rummel, Frühbyzantinische Funde aus dem Theater von Nysa am Maeander, in: Anadolu/Anatolia 24, 2003, 103-119
  • Musa Kadıoğlu, Zwei korinthische Kapitelle aus Nysa am Mäander, in: C. Özgünel – O. Bingöl – V. İdil – K. Görkay – M. Kadıoğlu (Hrsg.), Cevdet Bayburtluoğlu için yazılar / Essays in Honour of C. Bayburtluoğlu. Günışığında Anadolu / Anatolia in Daylight (2001) 156-161.
  • Vedat İdil – Musa Kadıoğlu, 2003 Yılı Nysa Kazı ve Restorasyon Çalışmaları, in: KST 26.1, 2004 (2005) 387-400.
  • Vedat İdil – Musa Kadıoğlu, 2004 Yılı Nysa Kazı ve Restorasyon Çalışmaları, in: KST 27.2, 2005 (2006) 131-146.
  • Musa Kadıoğlu, Menderes Nysası’ndan Bir Kantar / Eine Schnellwaage aus Nysa am Mäander, in: E. Öztepe – Musa Kadıoğlu (Hrsg.), Patronvs. Coşkun Özgünel’e 65. Yaş Armağanı / Festschrift für Coşkun Özgünel zum 65. Geburtstag (2007) 229-235
  • Vedat İdil – Musa Kadıoğlu, “2005 Yılı Nysa Kazı ve Restorasyon Çalışmaları“, in: KST 28.1, 2006 (2007) 647-670

Acharaca (Ancient Greek: Ἀχάρακα) was a village of ancient Lydia, Anatolia on the road from Tralles (modern Aydın, Turkey) to Nysa on the Maeander, with a Ploutonion or a temple of Pluto, and a cave, named Charonium (Ancient Greek: Χαρώνειον άντρον), where the sick were healed under the direction of the priests. There is some indication that it once bore the name Charax (Χάραξ), but that name may have belonged to Tralles. Its location is now the site of the modern town of Salavatlı. Recoveries from archaeological excavations are housed at the Aydın Archaeological Museum.

There was an oracle of Pluto and Κore (Persephone) at Acharaca. A large grove, a Doric temple (remains of which survive), and a cave called the Charonium, were the seat of the oracle. Strabo noted that "The sick resort thither, and live in the village near the cave, among experienced priests, who sleep at night in the open air and direct the mode of cure by their dreams. The priests invoke the gods to cure the sick, and frequently take them into the cave, where they remain in quiet without food for several days. Sometimes the sick themselves observe their own dreams, but apply to the priests to interpret them. To others the place is interdicted and fatal."Strabo also describes a festival held at Acharaca. An annual festival, to which there is general resort, is celebrated at Acharaca, and at the time particularly are to be seen and heard those who frequent it, conversing about cures performed there. During this feast the young men of the gymnasium and the ephebi, naked and anointed with oil, carry off a bull by stealth at midnight, and hurry it away into the cave. It is then let loose, and after proceeding a short distance falls down and expires.


Ariassus or Ariassos (Ancient Greek: Άριασσός) was a town in Pisidia, Asia Minor built on a steep hillside about 50 kilometres inland from Attaleia (modern Antalya).

Aydın Archaeological Museum

Aydın Archaeological Museum (Turkish: Aydın Arkeoloji Müzesi) is in Aydın, western Turkey. Established in 1959, it contains numerous statues, tombs, columns and stone carvings from the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman periods, unearthed in ancient cities such as Alinda, Alabanda, Amyzon, Harpasa, Magnesia on the Maeander, Mastaura, Myus, Nisa, Orthosia, Piginda, Pygela and Tralleis. The museum also has a section devoted to ancient coin finds.


Caloe was a town in the Roman province of Asia. It is mentioned as Kaloe or Keloue in 3rd-century inscriptions, as Kalose in Hierocles's Synecdemos (660), and as Kalloe, Kaloe, and Kolone in Parthey's Notitiæ episcopatuum, in which it figures from the 6th to the 12fth or 13th century.


Cestrus was a city in the Roman province of Isauria, in Asia Minor. Its placing within Isauria is given by Hierocles, Georgius Cyprius, and Parthey's (Notitiae episcopatuum). While recognizing what the ancient sources said, Lequien supposed that the town, whose site has not been identified, took its name from the River Cestros and was thus in Pamphylia. Following Lequien's hypothesis, the 19th-century annual publication Gerarchia cattolica identified the town with "Ak-Sou", which Sophrone Pétridès called an odd mistake, since this is the name of the River Cestros, not of a city.


Cotenna was a city in the Roman province of Pamphylia I in Asia Minor. It corresponds to modern Gödene, near Konya, Turkey.


Cyaneae (Ancient Greek: Κυανέαι; also spelt Kyaneai or Cyanae) was a town of ancient Lycia, or perhaps three towns known collectively by the name, on what is now the southern coast of Turkey. William Martin Leake says that its remains were discovered west of Andriaca. The place, which is at the head of Port Tristomo, was determined by an inscription. Leake observes that in some copies of Pliny it is written Cyane; in Hierocles and the Notitiae Episcopatuum it is Cyaneae. To Spratt and Forbes, Cyaneae appeared to be a city ranking in importance with Phellus and Candyba, but in a better state of preservation. No longer a residential bishopric, Cyanae is today listed by the Catholic Church as a titular see.


Docimium, Docimia or Docimeium (Greek: Δοκίμια and Δοκίμειον) was an ancient city of Phrygia, Asia Minor where there were famous marble quarries.


Drizipara (or Druzipara, Drousipara. Drusipara) now Karıştıran (Büyükkarıştıran) in Lüleburgaz district was a city and a residential episcopal see in the Roman province of Europa in the civil diocese of Thrace. It is now a titular see of the Catholic Church.


Lyrbe (spelled Lyrba in the 1910 Catholic Encyclopedia; Ancient Greek: Λύρβη) was a city and episcopal see in the Roman province of Pamphylia Prima and is now a titular see.


Phellus (Ancient Greek: Φέλλος, Turkish: Phellos) is an town of ancient Lycia, now situated on the mountainous outskirts of the small town of Kaş in the Antalya Province of Turkey. The city was first referenced as early as 7 BC by Greek geographer and philosopher Strabo in Book XII of his Geographica (which detailed settlements in the Anatolia region), alongside the port town of Antiphellus; which served as the settlement's main trade front.

Its exact location, particularly in regard to Antiphellus, was misinterpreted for many years. Strabo incorrectly designates both settlements as inland towns, closer to each other than is actually evident today. Additionally, upon its rediscovery in 1840 by Sir Charles Fellows, the settlement was located near the village of Saaret, west-northwest of Antiphellus. Verifying research into its location in ancient text proved difficult for Fellows, with illegible Greek inscriptions providing the sole written source at the site. However, Thomas Abel Brimage Spratt details in his 1847 work Travels in Lycia that validation is provided in the words of Pliny the Elder, who places Phellus north of Habessus (Antiphellus' pre-Hellenic name).


Pythopolis (Ancient Greek: Πυθόπολις) may refer to:

Pythopolis (Mysia)

Pythopolis, alternate name of Antioch on the Maeander

Pythopolis, alternate name of Nysa on the Maeander


Rhodiapolis (Ancient Greek: Ῥοδιάπολις), also known as Rhodia (Ῥοδία) and Rhodiopolis (Ῥοδιόπολις), was a city in ancient Lycia. Today it is located on a hill northwest of the modern town Kumluca in Antalya Province, Turkey.

Sextus Julius Major

Sextus Julius Major was a Roman senator active during the first half of the second century, and who held several positions in the service of the emperor. Major was suffect consul around 126. Major's origins were with the "high aristocracy" of Asia Minor. Ronald Syme notes his ancestors included Polemon I the king of Pontus and Antonia Pythodoris.

Stratonicea (Lydia)

Stratonicea – (Greek: Στρατoνικεια, or Στρατονίκεια) also transliterated as Stratoniceia and Stratonikeia, earlier Indi, and later for a time Hadrianapolis – was an ancient city in the valley of the Caicus river, between Germe and Acrasus, in Lydia, Anatolia; its site is currently near the village of Siledik, in the district of Kırkağaç, Manisa Province, in the Aegean Region of Turkey.


Sultanhisar is a town and a small district of Aydın Province in the Aegean region of Turkey, 30 km east of the city of Aydın on the road to Denizli.


Tyana (Ancient Greek: Τύανα; Hittite Tuwanuwa) was an ancient city in the Anatolian region of Cappadocia, in modern Kemerhisar, Niğde Province, Central Anatolia, Turkey. It was the capital of a Luwian-speaking Neo-Hittite kingdom in the 1st millennium BC.

Üçayaklı ruins

The Üçayaklı ruins are in Mersin Province, Turkey.

Black Sea
Central Anatolia
Eastern Anatolia


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