December 5th, 2015. We find ourselves driving through the heart of the mountains and valleys of ancient Troas, in the northwest of Turkey not far from the sea. Our goal is to visit the ruins of the ancient Greek city of Neandria, located at the summit of Mount Çığrı (520 m), so that we climb up the hillside until reaching the tiny town of Kayacık Köyü: located at the foot of the powerful granite massif that make up the Çığrı summit. In a corner of the small square of the town there is a sign indicating the direction we must take to follow the path leading up to the site of the ancient Neandria. Since from that point the roads are in bad condition, we decided not to risk the integrity of our car and continue on foot.
Photo 1.- Panoramic view from the site of Neandria with the Aegean Sea in the background.
Not much is known about ancient Neandria (Neandreia in Greek): what historical sources say and what could be ascertained in 1889 during the only excavation season to date. Its foundation has been archaeologically dated sometime in the early sixth century BC by greek settlers from Aeolis. The choice of the site of the new city was, likely, a model of unanimity because the summit of Mount Çığrı combined a great tactical efficiency (it was very easily defendable and rich in granite with which to carve good fortifications) with a high strategic value: one can perfectly see the Aegean from there as well as the closer valleys (photo 1), being also possible to control the commercial route that crossed the western coast of Troas from north to south.
Photo 2.- Gate between towers of access to Neandria.
The city belonged to the league of Delos, headed by Athens, from 459 BC until the Athenian defeat in the last phase of the Peloponnesian War (404 BC), at which time it was controlled by Zenis, monarch of the city of Dardanos, on the hellespontian coast, who had taken control of Troas thanks to the support provided by the persian satrap Pharnabazus II. Shortly afterwards, concretely in 399 BC, Neandria is occupied, with the approval of its inhabitants, by a spartan force commanded by Dercylidas, as part of his invasion of Aeolis, Troas and Bithynia regions, which led him to face the persian satrap mentioned above. The rest of the fourth century BC was a time of a certain prosperity for the city of Neandria. This is indicated by the important constructive activity archaeologically detected and the fact that the city issued bronze and silver coins in sufficiently high amounts so that today they are not considered rare. These emissions mostly show the god Apollo on the obverse, considered for this reason the tutelary deity of the city, and elements of agricultural-livestock type (the economic base of the city) on the reverse such as barley grains, oil amphoras or wine, clusters of grapes, rams and horses. In the following figure (1) we can see four of these pieces.