As we approach Priene from the Maeander River’s flat valley, we see a dark green band of trees on a broad terrace below the craggy cliffs of Mount Mycale. They mark the splendid city site 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 harbor and distant mountains. A spring flowing from the rock behind the city provided copious water. The perimeter was easy to fortify because the terrace came to an abrupt edge to build walls with steep 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 present one, 6 km. to the southwest, near the ancient harbor 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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