As we approach Priene from the flat valley of the Maeander River we see a dark green band of trees on a broad terrace below the craggy cliffs of Mount Mycale. They mark the site of the splendid city that prospered and gradually declined over a period of eight centuries. It sloped gently to the South offering a prospect over a fertile land towards its harbour and distant mountains. A spring flowing from the rock behind the city provided copious water. The perimeter was easy to fortify, because the terrace comes to an abrupt edge where walls could be built with step slopes below them. Above the cliffs, lies a higher plateau, known as Teloneia.

This Acropolis, also defended by walls, served as a military garrison and an ultimate refuge from invading enemies. The city whose ruins we see today is not the original Priene, which existed long before the peresent one, 6 km. to the southwest, near the ancient harbour of Naulochos. Archaeologists have found no evidence of Bronze Age habitation among the remains of the new Priene, or even buildings of the archaic period.

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