Limenoscope - Ancient Hellenic Ports
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Alexandria Troas
The city of Alexandria Troas is located in the north-west of Turkey about 27 km south of the entrance to the Dardanelles Straits. It was founded by Antigonos Monophthalmos under the name Antigoneia between 311 and 307 B.C. by a synoikismos of seven surrounding poleis. After the battle of Ipsus in 301 B.C. Lysimachos gained control over the city and renamed it Alexandria in the Troad. After the death of Lysimachos Alexandria Troas remained under Seleucid control until 227 B.C. and was then a free city for nearly 100 years. In 129 B.C. it was incorporated in the established Roman province of Asia. Under the rule of Augustus, probably in the year 12 B.C., Alexandria Troas became a roman colonia and was granted the ius Italicum. In the climate of the Pax Romana the economic and social life of the city flourished, especially in the first half of the 2nd century A.D. With the sack of the Goths in 262 A.D. the prosperity of the city ended. In the 4th and 5th century three bishops are mentioned and in 451 A.D. emperor Julian is mentioned visiting the city (Ricl.1997: 234 f.). After that Alexandria Troas vanishes from the literary sources. The city must have been abandoned at the latest in the 7th century A.D.  


Main features
Region Aegean Sea (Turkey)  
Use Commercial  
Prosperity period (centuries) 1st A.D. - 3rd A.D.  
Existence of contemporary port No  
Findings on site Yes  
General description
The harbour of Alexandria Troas consisted of an inner basin of c. 45.000 m2 and an outer one of c. 24.000 m2. The outer basin was protected by one breakwater on the north and another one on the south. Both breakwaters are artificial structures consisting of an embankment of rubble stones and rocks on top of which lies a layer of concrete (southern breakwater) or of concrete and shell limestone ashlars (northern breakwater). The inner basin measured c. 300 m north-south and c. 170 m east-west in the northern section and c. 210 m in the southern section. The quay was c. 600 m long. The entrance from the outer to the inner basin was oriented to the west-north-west and was c. 85 m wide. The quay of the polyangular inner basin is only partly preserved. In the south-west there was a mole with three openings to the sea to prevent the silting-up of the basin. Sparse remains reveal land facilities such as a street, vaulted building and a late Roman fortification wall. The Roman harbour of Alexandria Troas was constructed in the reign of Augustus and must have been in use up to the 7th century A.D. The location of the Hellenistic harbour is unknown; however, it might have been built over by its Roman successor.  
Technical features
Construction period (centuries) 1st B.C. - 1st A.D., -1 - 1  
Port configuration Artificial Harbour, Outer Harbour  
Port basin size 24000 - 45000 m2 
Main wind direction
Port land area km2 
Port entrance NW  
Change of sea surface elevation 2 m 
Sedimentation No  
Outer port structures Breakwaters, Moles
Inner port structures Basins, Quays  
Land facilities Other, Defence Structures  
Construction method  
Neotectonic history  
Shore line displacement  
Function and operations
The Roman harbour of Alexandria Troas served solely commercial purposes. The traffic in the harbour basins must have been heavy. It was a hub for goods and passengers in the north-west of Asia Minor as two significant sea-routes met in the area: The first reached from the Black Sea through the Propontis and the Dardanelles to the south coast of Asia Minor and from there further south to the Levant. The second proceeded from Alexandria Troas to the west to Greece, either along the northern coast to Thessalonica or to the south-west through the Aegean to Athens and from there to Rome. Ships waiting for southerly winds to travel through the Dardanelles into the Propontis and the Black Sea had to wait in the harbour; they probably anchored in the outer basin so as not to disrupt the loading and unloading in the inner basin. The marmor Troadense, a gray granite, was quarried in the hinterland of Alexandria Troas about 10 km from the harbour. This stone can be found in many places in the eastern Mediterranean and was exported through the harbour of Alexandria Troas as far as North Africa and Italy.  
References in ancient literature Corpus Iuris Civilis, Digesta L.15.8 Philostratos, Vitae Sophistarum, II.1 Acts of the Apostoles XVI.8-11, XX.5-12 Pliny, Naturalis Historia V, 124 Strabo, Geography, XIII.1.26, XXXIII Zosimos, Nova Historia II, 30, 1  
Related researches Archeological, Geological  
Findings in museums No  
Other references Feuser, S., 2009, Der Hafen von Alexandria Troas, Asia Minor Studien 63 Feuser, S., 2011, The Roman Harbour of Alexandria Troas, Turkey, International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 40/2, 256-273 Ricl, M., 1997, The Inscriptions of Alexandria Troas, Inschriften griechischer Städte aus Kleinasien 53  
Protection regime  
Author Stefan Feuser  
Editor Ioannis Triantafιllidis - Theotokis Theodoulou  
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