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Ancient bouleuterion at Assos unveiled

The bouleuterion (the building which housed the council of citizens) in the ancient city of Assos was established 2,400 years ago in what is today the Ayvacık district of Turkey's northwestern province of Çanakkale. Home to Plato's second Academy, Assos hosted another illustrious Greek philosopher, Aristotle, in the 4th century.

Ancient bouleuterion at Assos unveiled
The Bouleuterion or council house at Assos [Credit: Erkmen Senan]
The head of the excavations in the ancient city, Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University academic Professor Nurettin Arslan said bouleuteria were first erected in the 5th and 6th century B.C. in Athens and democracy quickly extended to other Greek cities.

He said the earliest bouleuteria in Anatolia had so far been believed to be built in the 2nd B.C., like that at Millet (Greek Miletos).

Arslan said research in recent years brought to light the inscription of the bouleuterion in Assos.

He said, “This building in Assos was built by Ladomos and his wife, members of the one of leading families in the ancient city. The inscription dates back to the end of the 4th century B.C. Our examination shows that it is not the same with other examples in Anatolia. Unlike other bouleuteria, these seats are made of wood in this building. It is stone in other assemblies. When you consider its plan, the nearest example to the bouleuterion in Assos is the one in the Athens agora, where people gathered to discuss administration, politics and trade affairs.”

Arslan said the illustrious philosopher Aristotle could be the reason for the establishment of the bouleuterion in Assos. He said, “Because we know Aristotle stayed in Assos in the middle of the 4th century. We can also say Plato’s second Academy was also established here. One is in Athens and the second branch is in Assos. Thanks to this Academy, the people of Assos received significant information about democracy in Athens. After Aristotle left the city, this region was occupied by the Persians and people did not have the chance to realize this information in real life, in a manner quite like [[Plato’s Republic]]. But when Alexander the Great set foot in Anatolia, the people of Assos realized the doctrines of [[Plato]] and built the first bouleuterion in Anatolia.”

He noted the bouleuterion dated back to 2,400 years ago, and said, “We can say Assos was the first city in history to be managed by philosophers.”

Source: Hurriyet Daily News [January 03, 2014]

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