Phocaea or Phokaia (Ancient Greek: Φώκαια, Phókaia; modern-day Foça in Turkey) was an ancient Ionian Greek city on the western coast of Anatolia. Greek colonists from Phocaea founded the colony of Massalia[1] (modern-day Marseille, in France) in 600 BC, Emporion (modern-day Empúries, in Catalonia, Spain) in 575 BC and Elea (modern-day Velia, in Campania, Italy) in 540 BC.

Φώκαια ‹See Tfd›(in Greek)
Foça ‹See Tfd›(in Turkish)
Ancient theatre Foça525
The theatre of Phocaea
Phocaea is located in Turkey
Shown within Turkey
Alternative namePhokaia
LocationFoça, Izmir Province, Turkey
Coordinates38°40′03″N 26°45′29″E / 38.66750°N 26.75806°ECoordinates: 38°40′03″N 26°45′29″E / 38.66750°N 26.75806°E


Phocaea was the northernmost of the Ionian cities, on the boundary with Aeolis.[2] It was located near the mouth of the river Hermus (now Gediz), and situated on the coast of the peninsula separating the Gulf of Cyme to the north, named for the largest of the Aeolian cities, and the Gulf of Smyrna (now İzmir) to the south.

Phocaea had two natural harbours within close range of the settlement, both containing a number of small islands. Phocaea's harbours allowed it to develop a thriving seafaring economy, and to become a great naval power, which greatly influenced its culture.

Recent archaeological surveys have shown that the city of Phocaea was large for the archaic period. Herodotus gives an idea of the size of Phocaea by describing the walls of Phocaea as having a length of several stadia.[3]

A 4th century BC Persian Tomb, known as Tas Kule (rock tower), stands (38º 39' 37" N, 26º 49' 2" E) 7 km east of Phocaea along a main road. This funerary monument was carved out of solid rock with a lower 2.7 meter high rectangular story (9 × 6 meters) surmounted by a second 1.9 meter high story (3 × 3 meters). Four steps between the two levels suggest strong Persian influence and most archaeologists believe this tomb was built for a Persian aristocrat or local leader serving the Persians.[4] Compare the style of the tomb of Cyrus.

Phocaea Map
Map of Aegean showing the location of Phocaea.


The ancient Greek geographer Pausanias says that Phocaea was founded by Phocians under Athenian leadership, on land given to them by the Aeolian Cymaeans, and that they were admitted into the Ionian League after accepting as kings the line of Codrus.[5] Pottery remains indicate Aeolian presence as late as the 9th century BC, and Ionian presence as early as the end of the 9th century BC. From this an approximate date of settlement for Phocaea can be inferred.[6]

According to Herodotus the Phocaeans were the first Greeks to make long sea-voyages, having discovered the coasts of the Adriatic, Tyrrhenia and Spain. Herodotus relates that they so impressed Arganthonios, king of Tartessus in Spain, that he invited them to settle there, and, when they declined, gave them a great sum of money to build a wall around their city.[7]

Their sea travel was extensive. To the south they probably conducted trade with the Greek colony of Naucratis in Egypt, which was the colony of their fellow Ionian city Miletus. To the north, they probably helped settle Amisos (Samsun) on the Black Sea, and Lampsacus at the north end of the Hellespont (now the Dardanelles). However Phocaea's major colonies were to the west. These included Alalia in Corsica, Emporiae and Rhoda in Spain, and especially Massalia (Marseille) in France.[6]

Phocaea remained independent until the reign of the Lydian king Croesus (circa 560–545 BC), when they, along with the rest of mainland Ionia, first, fell under Lydian control[8] and then, along with Lydia (who had allied itself with Sparta) were conquered by Cyrus the Great of Persia in 546 BC, in one of the opening skirmishes of the great Greco-Persian conflict.

Rather than submit to Persian rule, the Phocaeans abandoned their city. Some may have fled to Chios, others to their colonies on Corsica and elsewhere in the Mediterranean, with some eventually returning to Phocaea. Many however became the founders of Elea, around 540 BC.[9]

In 500 BC, Phocaea joined the Ionian Revolt against Persia. Indicative of its naval prowess, Dionysius, a Phocaean was chosen to command the Ionian fleet at the decisive Battle of Lade, in 494 BC.[10] However, indicative of its declining fortunes, Phocaea was only able to contribute three ships, out of a total of "three hundred and fifty three".[11] The Ionian fleet was defeated and the revolt ended shortly thereafter.

IONIA, Phokaia. Circa 478-387 BC
Coinage of Phokaia, Ionia, circa 478-387 BC. Possible portrait of Satrap Tissaphernes, with satrapal headress.

After the defeat of Xerxes I by the Greeks in 480 BC and the subsequent rise of Athenian power, Phocaea joined the Delian League, paying tribute to Athens of two talents.[6] In 412 BC, during the Peloponnesian War, with the help of Sparta, Phocaea rebelled along with the rest of Ionia. The Peace of Antalcidas, which ended the Corinthian War, returned nominal control to Persia in 387 BC.

In 343 BC, the Phocaeans unsuccessfully laid siege to Kydonia on the island of Crete.[12]

During the Hellenistic period it fell under Seleucid, then Attalid rule. In the Roman period, the town was a manufacturing center for ceramic vessels, including the late Roman Phocaean red slip.

It was later under the control of Benedetto Zaccaria, the Genoan ambassador to Byzantium, who received the town as a hereditary lordship; Zaccaria and his descendants amassed a considerable fortune from his properties there, especially the rich alum mines. It remained a Genoese colony until it was taken by the Turks in 1455.[13] It is a titular see of the Roman Catholic Church.[13]

In 1914, Phocaea was the location of a massacre against ethnic Greek civilians by Turkish irregular bands.


Phocaea coinage2
Electrum coinage of Phocaea, 340-335 BC.

Probably following the Lydians, the Phocaeans were among the earliest in the world to make and use coins as money. Its earliest coins were made of electrum, a naturally occurring alloy of silver and gold. The British Museum has a Phocaean coin containing the image of a seal dating from 600 to 550 BC.[14]

See also


  1. ^ Pliny, 3.5.
  2. ^ Strabo, 13.1.2.
  3. ^ Herodotus, 1.163 .
  4. ^ Tucker, Jack (2012). Innocents Return Abroad: Exploring Ancient Sites in Western Turkey. pp. 41–42. ISBN 1478343583.
  5. ^ Pausanias, 7.3.10. See also, Herodotus, 1.146.1 which mentions "Phocian renegades" as being among the settlers of Ionia.
  6. ^ a b c Stillwell, "Phokaia".
  7. ^ Herodotus, 1.163.
  8. ^ Herodotus, 1.6.
  9. ^ For Herodotus' account of the flight of the Phocaeans, see: 1.164–168. See also Strabo, 6.1.1.
  10. ^ Herodotus, 6.11-12.
  11. ^ Herodotus, 6.8.
  12. ^ C. Michael Hogan, Cydonia, Modern Antiquarian, January 23, 2008
  13. ^ a b Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Phocæa" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company..
  14. ^ In Greek, "phoce" (Φώκη) means "seal", British Museum: "Electrum stater with a seal".


  • Herodotus, The Persian Wars, Translated by A. D. Godley, (Loeb Classical Library, Nos. 117-120), Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press (1920) ISBN 0-674-99130-3 ISBN 0-674-99131-1 ISBN 0-674-99133-8 ISBN 0-674-99134-6. 
  • Pausanias, Description of Greece, Books I-II, translated by Horace Leonard Jones; Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. (1918) ISBN 0-674-99104-4. 
  • Pliny the Elder, The Natural History (Eds. John Bostock, M.D., F.R.S. H.T. Riley, Esq., B.A.) London. Taylor and Francis, Red Lion Court, Fleet Street. (1855). 
  • Stillwell, Richard, The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites, (Editors: Richard Stillwell, William L. MacDonald and Marian Holland McAllister) (1976). ISBN 0-691-03542-3. 
  • Strabo, Geography, translated by Horace Leonard Jones; Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press; London: William Heinemann, Ltd. (1924). Vol. 3, Books 6–7 ISBN 0-674-99201-6, Vol. 6, Books 13–14 ISBN 0-674-99246-6. 

External links

11277 Ballard

11277 Ballard, provisional designation 1988 TW2, is a Phocaea asteroid from the inner regions of the asteroid belt, approximately 6.3 kilometers (3.9 miles) in diameter. It was discovered on 8 October 1988, by American astronomer couple Carolyn and Eugene Shoemaker at the Palomar Observatory in California. The assumed S-type asteroid has a rotation period of at least 10 hours. It was named for American marine scientist Robert Ballard.

13123 Tyson

13123 Tyson, provisional designation 1994 KA, is a stony Phocaea asteroid and an asynchronous binary system from the inner regions of the asteroid belt, approximately 10 kilometers in diameter. It was discovered on May 16, 1994, by American astronomer Carolyn Shoemaker and Canadian astronomer David Levy at the Palomar Observatory in California, United States. The asteroid was named for Neil deGrasse Tyson, American astrophysicist and popular science communicator.

1568 Aisleen

1568 Aisleen, provisional designation 1946 QB, is a stony Phocaea asteroid from the inner regions of the asteroid belt, approximately 12.5 kilometers in diameter. It was discovered on 21 August 1946, by South African astronomer Ernest Johnson at Johannesburg Observatory in South Africa. It is named for the discoverer's wife, Aisleen Johnson.

1817 Katanga

1817 Katanga, provisional designation 1939 MB, is a stony Phocaea asteroid in from the inner regions of the asteroid belt, approximately 16 kilometers in diameter. It was discovered on 20 June 1939, by English-born South African astronomer Cyril Jackson at Johannesburg Observatory in South Africa. It is named for the Katanga Province.

25 Phocaea

Phocaea ( foh-SEE-ə; minor planet designation: 25 Phocaea) is a stony asteroid from the inner regions of the asteroid belt, approximately 75 kilometers in diameter. It is the parent body of the Phocaea family. Discovered by Jean Chacornac in 1853, it was named after the ancient Greek city of Phocaea.

323 Brucia

Brucia ( BREW-see-ə or BREW-shə; minor planet designation: 323 Brucia) is a stony Phocaea asteroid and former Mars-crosser from the inner regions of the asteroid belt, approximately 33 kilometers (21 miles) in diameter. It was the first asteroid to be discovered by the use of astrophotography.

6478 Gault

6478 Gault, provisional designation 1988 JC1, is a Phocaea asteroid from the inner regions of the asteroid belt, approximately 3.7 kilometers (2.3 miles) in diameter. In January 2019, it was found that Gault shows cometary activity, and that it has multiple tails. It was subsequently realised that it had been active since at least 2013.

The likely S-type asteroid was discovered on 12 May 1988, by astronomer couple Carolyn and Eugene Shoemaker at the Palomar Observatory in California. It was named in honor of planetary geologist Donald Gault.

852 Wladilena

852 Wladilena is a Phocaea asteroid from the inner region of the asteroid belt. It is named after the Russian Communist leader Vladimir Lenin.

Battle of Focchies

The naval Battle of Focchies took place on 12 May 1649, during the Cretan War, off Focchies near Smyrna in western Turkey. A Venetian fleet of 19 ships, under Giacomo Riva, defeated an Ottoman fleet of 11 ships, 10 galleasses (mahons) and 72 galleys.

Benedetto I Zaccaria

Benedetto I Zaccaria (c. 1235 – 1307) was an Italian admiral of the Republic of Genoa. He was the Lord of Phocaea (from 1288) and first Lord of Chios (from 1304), and the founder of Zaccaria fortunes in Byzantine and Latin Greece. He was, at different stages in his life, a diplomat, adventurer, mercenary, and statesman.

Benedetto was the second son of Fulcone Zaccaria and one of his wives: Giulietta or Beatrice. Benedetto assisted his brothers Manuele and Nicolino, his cousin Tedisio, and his son Paleologo in their commercial enterprises.

Benedetto was captured by the Venetians in a battle off Tyre in 1258. In 1264, he was sent as a Genoese ambassador to the Byzantine court of Michael VIII Palaiologos. Although his mission was unsuccessful, his acquaintance with the emperor would stand him in good stead. After eleven years of negotiations which resulted in a renewed accord between the Empire and Genoa, Benedetto re-appeared in Constantinople with his brother Manuele in 1275. Benedetto married one of the emperor's sisters, while Manuele received control over the valuable alum mines of Phocaea. This was an extremely lucrative business, especially after Manuele acquired a near-monopoly after persuading Michael VIII to prohibit the import of alum from the Black Sea, even though this trade was also in the hands of Genoese merchants.As an agent of the emperor, Benedetto acted as an ambassador to Peter III of Aragon in 1280–1282, and took part in the negotiations that led to the Byzantine–Aragonese alliance and the outbreak of the War of the Sicilian Vespers that ended the threat of an invasion of Byzantium by Charles I of Anjou.Benedetto returned to Genoa in 1284 and was made an admiral. He was the principal commander of the Genoese fleet which defeated Pisa at the Battle of Meloria. He commanded a fleet of twenty galleys, separate from the main Genoese fleet and initially hidden from sight. His surprise attack led to a decisive Genoese victory and the permanent decline of Pisa's military and mercantile power.

He participated alongside the Castilians under Sancho IV in a victorious campaign against Morocco. At about the same time, he served Philip IV of France as an admiral, blocking the English and Flemish ports.

Before the Ottoman Turks and the Venetians, the Byzantine emperor Andronicus II Palaeologus appealed for his aid. In 1296, the Venetian admiral Ruggero Morosini razed Phocaea.

In 1302, Zaccaria was named admiral by Philip of France, in which capacity he conquered the island of Chios (1304), which had thitherto been in the hands of Moslem corsairs. At first, he gave the government of the isle over to his nephew Tedisio. In 1304, he also occupied Samos and Cos, which were almost completely depopulated, and the emperor conceded him sovereignty over those islands and Chios for two years, under Byzantine suzerainty. It is from this date that Benedetto is accounted Lord of Chios and begins his career as a statesman and ruler. In 1306, Tedisio occupied Thasos, then a refuge of Greek pirates.

Zaccaria died in 1307 and his brother Manuele in 1309. His son Paleologo succeeded him in Chios and the rest of his possessions. Zaccaria's wife was an unnamed woman of some relation to the Palaeologi.

Cyclic Poets

Cyclic Poets is a shorthand term for the early Greek epic poets, approximate contemporaries of Homer. We know no more about these poets than we know about Homer, but modern scholars regard them as having composed orally, as did Homer. In the classical period, surviving early epic poems were ascribed to these authors, just as the Iliad and Odyssey were ascribed to Homer. Together with Homer, whose Iliad covers a mere 50 days of the war, they cover the complete war "cycle", thus the name. Most modern scholars place Homer in the 8th century BC. The other poets listed below seemed to have lived in the 7th–5th centuries BC. Excluding Homer's, none of the works of the cyclic poets survive.

Dionysius the Phocaean

Dionysius the Phocaean or Dionysius of Phocaea (fl. 494 BC) was a Phocaean admiral of Ancient Greece during the Persian Wars of 5th century BC, and was the commander of the Ionian fleet at the Battle of Lade in 494 BC. Although commanding a formidable force, according to the Greek historian Herodotus, his men were worked so hard in preparing for battle that on the eve of the battle they refused to engage the Persian fleet.

Although little is known of his life, Dionysius was in command of the Ionian contingent, gathered from the many islands throughout Ionia, which joined the main Greek naval force outside Miletus' port of Lade. Upon his arrival in the naval camp of Lade, he observed that his men displayed low morale and suffered from a lack of discipline. Believing his men were unprepared for the impending battle, he called a general assembly among the camp and, in a speech to his men, said: "Now for our affairs are on the razor's edge, men of Ionia, wither we are to be free or slaves ... so if you will bear hardships now, you will suffer temporarily but be able to overcome your enemies."

He then began ordering his men to perform several hours of martial exercises a day as well as drawing out the fleet in the order of battle and instructed the rowers and marines in naval tactics. After a week, dissension began to appear within the ranks of the Samians and other officers (particularly as Dionysius, who arrived with only three ships, exerted such a strong influence over the rest of the fleet).

Even as the battle began, many of the Ionian ships under the command of Dionysius still refused to engage with the Persians and eventually almost 120 of the 350 Greek warships abandoned the battle leaving the remaining Greek ships to be annihilated leaving the city of Miletus to the mercy of the Persians.

Despite this setback, Dionysius continued fighting the Persians sinking three warships before being forced to retreat during the final hours of the battle.

Returning to Phocaea, Dionysius attacked several trading vessels and seized their cargo before arriving in Sicily. During his later years, he would become involved in piracy against the Carthaginian and Tyrsenian merchants. However, in keeping with the friendship between Phocaea and Greece, he left travelling Grecian merchants alone.


Foça is a town and district in Turkey's İzmir Province, on the Aegean coast.

The town of Foça is situated at about 69 km (43 mi) northwest of İzmir's city center. The district also has a township with its own municipality named Yenifoça (literally "New Foça"), also along the shore and at a distance of 20 km (12 mi) from Foça proper. For this reason, Foça itself is locally often called as Eskifoça ("Old Foça") in daily parlance. The ancient city of Phocaea (Greek: Φώκαια) is located between the two modern Foças.

Leucae (Ionia)

Leucae (Greek: Λεῦκαι) or Leuce (Greek: Λεύκη) was a small town of ancient Ionia, in the neighbourhood of Phocaea. Leucae was situated, according to Pliny in promontorio quod insula fuit,or, "on an island promontory." From Scylax we learn that it was a place with harbours. According to Diodorus, the Persian admiral Tachos founded this town on an eminence on the sea coast, in 352 BCE; but shortly after, when Tachos had died, the Clazomenians and Cymaeans quarrelled about its possession, and the former succeeded by a stratagem in making themselves masters of it. At a later time Leucae became remarkable for the battle fought in its neighbourhood between the consul Publius Licinius Crassus Dives Mucianus and Aristonicus in 131 BCE. Some have supposed this place to be identical with the Leuconium mentioned by Thucydides; but this is impossible, as this latter place must be looked for in Chios. The site of the ancient Leucae is at Üçtepeler, Izmir Province, Turkey, some distance from the coast. Coins were minted at Leucae in the 3rd century BCE.

Maona of Chios and Phocaea

The Maona of Chios and Phocaea (Italian: Maona di Chio e di Focea) (1346–1566) was a maona formed to exact taxes for Genoa from the island of Chios and port of Phocaea. Genoa sold the rights to their taxes to the maona, which raised funds from its investors to buy galleys and eventually re-conquer Chios and Phocaea.

Massacre of Phocaea

The Massacre of Phocaea (Greek: Η Σφαγή της Φώκαιας, I Sfagí tis Fókaias) occurred in June 1914, as part of the ethnic cleansing policies of the Ottoman Empire. It was perpetrated by irregular Turkish bands against the predominantly ethnic Greek town of Phocaea, modern Foça, in the east coast of the Aegean Sea. The massacre was part of a wider anti-Greek campaign of genocide launched by the Young Turk Ottoman authorities, which included boycott, intimidation, forced deportations and massive killings; and was one of the worst attacks during the summer of 1914.

Phocaea family

The Phocaea family ( foh-SEE-ə; adj. Phocaean; FIN: 701) is a collisional family of asteroids located between 2.25 and 2.5 AU in the inner region of the asteroid belt. Phocaea asteroids are of stony S-type composition and have orbits with eccentricities greater than 0.1 and inclinations between 18 and 32°. The family has an estimated age of 2.2 billion years and derives its name from its most massive member, 25 Phocaea which is about 75 km in diameter. Several Phocaean asteroids are also Mars-crossers.


Temnos or Temnus (Ancient Greek: Τῆμνος; Aeolic Greek: Τᾶμνος) was a small Greek polis (city-state) of ancient Aeolis, later incorporated in the Roman province of Asia, on the western coast of Anatolia. Its bishopric was a suffragan of Ephesus, the capital and metropolitan see of the province, and is included in the Catholic Church's list of titular sees.The little town was near the Hermus River, which is shown on its coins. Situated at elevation it commanded a view of the territories of Cyme, Phocaea, and Smyrna. Under Augustus it was already on the decline; under Tiberius it was destroyed by an earthquake; and in the time of Pliny it was no longer inhabited. It was, however, rebuilt later.

One of the city's more noteworthy figures was the rhetorician Hermagoras.

Its site is located near Görece, Asiatic Turkey.


Velia was the Roman name of an ancient city of Magna Graecia on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea. It was founded by Greeks from Phocaea as Hyele (Ancient Greek: Ὑέλη) around 538–535 BC. The name later changed to Ele and then Elea (; Ancient Greek: Ἐλέα) before it became known by its current Latin and Italian name during the Roman era. Its ruins are located in the Cilento region near the modern village Velia, which was named after the ancient city. The village is a frazione of the comune Ascea in the Province of Salerno, Campania, Italy.

The city was known for being the home of the philosophers Parmenides and Zeno of Elea, as well as the Eleatic school of which they were a part. The site of the acropolis of ancient Elea was once a promontory called Castello a Mare, meaning "castle on the sea" in Italian. It now lies inland and was renamed to Castellammare della Bruca in the Middle Ages.

Black Sea
Central Anatolia
Eastern Anatolia


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