Parion, Turkey

Thasos was founded by the Parians, as also Parium, a city on the Propontis (Strab. 10.5.7).
- Strabo, Geography
Parion (or Parium Greek: Πάριον) was a Greek city of Adrasteia in Mysia on the Hellespont. Its bishopric was a suffragan of Cyzicus, the metropolitan see of the Roman province of Hellespontus.
Map of the ruins of the ancient city Parium, Asia Minor. Alternative Title: Plan des ruines de Parium. Date: 1822

After Ceos are Naxos1 and Andros,2 considerable islands, and Paros, the birth-place of the poet Archilochus. Thasos3 was founded by Parians, and Parium,4 a city in the Propontis. In this last place there is said to be an altar worthy of notice, each of whose sides is a stadium in length. In Paros is obtained the Parian marble, the best adapted for statuary work.5

1 Naxia.

2 Andro.

3 Taschos.

4 Kemars.

5 The marble was taken from Mt. Marpessus. Pliny xxxvi. 5; Virg Æn. 6, Marpesia cautes.

The Geography of Strabo. Literally translated, with notes, in three volumes. London. George Bell & Sons. 1903.
The city was founded probably about 3,000 years ago as a colony by settlers from Eretria (Greek polis from the island of Euboea) and the island of Paros in the Aegean Sea. Parion was a member of the Delian League. In the city, there were defensive towers, and at least four temples.

Re-founded in 709 B.C., the ancient city of Parion is located in the village of Kemer in the township of Biga in Çanakkale province of Turkey, currently. A major coastal city with two harbors in the Roman period, Parion had intensive relations with Thrace and Anatolia throughout history. This was the main customs station through which all Istanbul-bound goods from Greece and the Aegean had to pass.
On the history: Located near Lampsacus, it was a colony probably founded by Eretria and Paros.It belonged to the Delian League. In the Hellenistic period it came under the domain of Lysimachus, and subsequently the Attalid dynasty. In Roman times, it was a colonia, within the province of Asia; after that province was divided in the 4th century, it was in the province of Hellespontus.
Statue of Orpheus from Parion (the 1st century BCE) - Çanakkale Archaeological Museum

The ancient coinage of Parium is quite abundant, attesting to its great output and advanced mint (in Hellenistic times, the city's badge shown on coins was the Gorgoneion).
The Acts of the martyr St. Onesiphorus prove that there was a Christian community there before 180. Other saints worthy of mention are: St. Menignus, martyred under Decius and venerated on 22 November; St. Theogenes, bishop and martyr, whose feast is observed on 3 January; St. Basil, bishop and martyr in the ninth century, venerated on 12 April.

A port of great strategic importance on the Hellespont between Lampsakos and Priapos. The city may have been founded by Parion, son of Jason, chief of the settlers of Erythrai; or by the mythic Parilarians, together with colonists from Erythrai and Miletos.
Parion enjoyed enviable prosperity because of its port; and once the kingdom of Pergamon was established, it came under the control of the Attalid dynasty. It passed to the Romans in 133 B.C. under the testament of Attalos III, and under Augustus must have been a flourishing center as the numerous coins coming from Parion designate the city Colonia Pariana Iulia Augusta. Strabo (Geogr. 13.588) records a colossal altar constructed at Parion by Hermokreon; and we know that prior to 354 B.C. the sculptor Praxiteles executed a statue of Eros there.

Le Quien (Oriens christianus I, 787-90) mentions 14 bishops, the last of whom lived in the middle of the fourteenth century. An anonymous Latin bishop is mentioned in 1209 by Innocent III (Le Quien, op. cit., III, 945) and a titular bishop in 1410 by Eubel (Hierarchia Catholica medii ævi, I, 410).
Bronze amphora from Parion - Çanakkale Archaeological Museum

At first a suffragan of the Archbishopric, Parium became an autocephalous archdiocese as early as 640 (Heinrich Gelzer, Ungedruckte ... Texte, 535) and remained so till the end of the 13th century. Then the Emperor Andronicus II Palaeologus made it a metropolis under the title of Pegon kai Pariou.

In 1354 the residential see of Pegae and Parium (the Latin forms of both names) were suppressed, the incumbent metropolitan receiving in exchange the See of Sozopolis in Thrace (Miklosich and Müller, "Acta patriarchatus Constantinopolitani", I, 109, 111, 132, 300, 330). This was the end of the residential see.

The see is included in the Catholic Church's list of titular sees.

The ruins of Parium were under Ottoman rule at the Greek village of Kamares (the vaults), on the small cape Tersana-Bournou in the caza and sandjak of Bigha.
The statue of Artemis found at the ancient city of Parion 
The excavation is being conducted by Professor Cevat Başaran, an instructor in the archaeology department at Erzurum’s Atatürk University, and is being carried out in six zones of the ancient city. 

The marble sculpture was dug out in pieces at Odeion, one of the six excavation sites. Başaran, the head of the excavation, has announced that the sculpture depicts a clothed woman, is 1.70 cm tall and approximately 1,800 years old, and is a high quality sculpture of its kind. The excavators also found marble sculptures depicting animals including sheep and dogs. 

“The bow and arrow in her hand indicates that the sculpture belongs to Artemis [Diana], the goddess of hunting, the wilderness and wild animals,” Başaran said. 

Archaeological research: 
Archaeological work has been conducted at the ruins of Parion for many years. The existence of ancient Parion was no secret to the father of the Turkish archeology - Osman Hamdi Bey. He found there a sarcophagus, later transported to the Archaeological Museum in Istanbul. Since 2005, a team of archaeologists in Parion has been directed by Professor Cevat Başaran from Atatürk University in Erzurum.
The most important discoveries made by his team are tombs and sarcophagi from the area of ​​Parion necropolis. Among them, it is worth mentioning a 2200-year-old sarcophagus, which was unearthed in 2009. Golden earrings found in it bear the symbol of Eros, and they were accompanied by numerous rings and some fragments of the crown decorated with precious stones. These finds allow the presumption that a rich person was buried there, and she was called the princess of Parion by the discoverers of the tomb. Unfortunately, the bones of the people buried in the necropolis have not been well preserved because of soil moisture due to the proximity of the sea. A royal crown and gold coins with the figure of the sun god were discovered in another tomb.

In addition to these special sarcophagi, around 200 graves have been discovered in the necropolis, often with for the dead, including bottles for tears, oil lamps, and toys. Sometimes the funeral gifts enable the identification of the occupation of the person buried there, as in the case of the tomb, with bronze fragments of a fishing rod from the 1st century AD. Unfortunately, many of the tumuli surrounding Parion, have been plundered by treasure hunters.

Archaeological excavations in Parion are also carried out in a theater, an odeon, and baths, as well as in six areas on a hillside overlooking the ancient city. Important discovery was made in 2011 when a marble block was found, with an inscription in the Phrygian language. Because of this discovery, Parion is now considered as the north-western boundary of ancient Phrygian civilization.

2,700 year-old healing water discovered in Parion ancient city in Turkey's Çanakkale
A 2,700-year-old water well, one of the nine ancient wells located in Turkey's Çanakkale province, still provides the essential drink that is considered as the "source of life," with special "healing properties" and is attributed to be the source of beauty in the region.
Located in the ancient Greek city of Parion in Çanakkale's Biga district, the well still contains water, archeological studies in the area have revealed.

According to Professor Vedat Keleş from Ondokuz Mayıs University's Archaeology Department, excavations have unearthed nine wells in the ancient site, which experienced chronic water shortages.

"These ancient peoples tried to overcome the water shortage through aqueducts and water wells located in various areas" Keleş told the Anadolu Agency, noting that the village's name in Turkish, "Kemer" is derived from aqueducts.

He noted that only one of the wells still has drinking water, which is believed to have healing properties.

"Ancient sources mention that this water had healing properties and was beneficial for the skin and stomach disorders" Keleş said, adding that beauty of the women of this region especially had a reputation, which he said could be attributed to this water.

"Anthropological studies will give us clearer answers regarding this matter in the near future," Keleş said.

Parion, also called Parium, was an ancient Greek city founded in 709 B.C. It had two major harbors during the Roman era, and served as the main "customs station" for Istanbul-bound goods from the Aegean.

Archaeologists have been carrying out excavations at the ancient site since 2005. Sarcophagi, and graves, as well as ancient artifacts were found in the area.

Based on the excavation findings, Professor Basaran says that Parion was a great city, ruled by the wealthy elite of the Hellenistic era. The professor hopes that the ruins of Parion will become a tourist attraction comparable to Ephesus. Honestly, we need to warn the travellers interested in exploring Parion that these plans relate to the very distant future, as the current excavations are in no way prepared to receive tourists.

At the entrance to the village of Kemer, there is a faded signboard about Parion (in Turkish). On a hill, in the vicinity of this board, you can see the remains of fortifications. In the center of the village, a signpost leads to the necropolis, where the excavation work is carried out. The official information panel at the necropolis states that the entrance is dangerous and prohibited. However, you can ask for the permission to take some photos. Do not overuse the patience of the archaeologists and do not enter the area of the necropolis.

The most important ancient buildings of Parion are located to the north of the center of Kemer, about 600 meters from the necropolis area. There are the remains of a theater, an odeon, and Roman baths.

The finds from excavations conducted in Parion, dating back to the archaic, Hellenistic and Roman periods, are presented in display cases in the Archaeology Museum in Çanakkale. One of the most interesting exhibits is a 2400-year-old amphora made of bronze, found in 2005. The vessel is 34 cm high, and it is decorated with the theme depicting the ecstatic procession of dancing figures: the god Dionysus, a satyr, and maenads.

Visitor tips: 
The village of Kemer is not a place to stop overnight as there are no accommodation options there. We recommend finding a room in a hotel in Lapseki, located to the west. Alternatively, you can book a room in Biga or Karabiga, further to the east. In Kemer, there are no restaurants or shops, so it is worth to stock up on supplies of food and beverages before the trip.

Getting there: 
By car: take E90 route from Çanakkale to the north-east, through Lapseki. Turn left (to the north) after 74 km, and follow Kemer (Parion) signposts. The local, but good quality road takes you to Kemer village, 12 km from the crossroads.

Strabo, Geography
B. V. Head, Historia Numorum (1911)
M. Grant, From imperium to Auctoritas (1946)id., Emerita 20 (1952)
D. Magie, Roman Rule in Asia Minor (1950)
L. Robert, Hellenica 9 (1950), 10 (1955), 11-12 (1960); id., Villes d'Asie Mineure (2d ed. 1962); L. Laurenzi, Riv. Ist. Naz. Arch. St. Arte 5-6 (1956-57); id., Ann. Sc. Arch. Ital. Atene 33-34 (1957); D. Nikolov, Archeologia (Sofia) 5 (1963).
P. Frisch (ed.), Die Inschriften von Parion (Bonn, 1983) (Inschriften griechischer Städte aus Kleinasien 25).
Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Parium". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Parium". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.

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