Abydos and the Hellespont
|Location||Çanakkale, Çanakkale Province, Turkey|
Abydos (Ancient Greek: Ἄβῡδος), an ancient city of Troad (Troas), in Asia Minor, situated at Nara Burnu or Nagara Point on the best harbor on the Asiatic shore of the Hellespont. Across Abydos lies Sestus on the European side, marking one of the narrowest points of the Dardanelles, slightly more than a nautical mile broad (the narrowest point is at Çanakkale). The strategic site has been a prohibited zone in the 20th century. Hero and Leander's story took place near Abydos.
Abydos was first mentioned in the catalogue of Trojan allies (Iliad ii.836). It probably was a Thracian town, as Strabo has it, but was afterwards colonized by Milesians, with the consent of Gyges, king of Lydia, around 700 BC. It was occupied by the Persians in 514 BC, and Darius burnt it in 512 BC. Here Xerxes built two pontoon bridges later known as Xerxes' Pontoon Bridges and crossed the strait in 480 BC when he invaded Greece.
Abydos is celebrated for the vigorous resistance it made against Philip V of Macedon in 200 BC. It is famous in myth as the home of Leander. In literature, it is memorable from Byron having adopted its name in The Bride of Abydos. It minted coins from the early 5th century BC to the mid-3rd century AD.
The town remained until late Byzantine times an important toll and customs station of the Hellespont, its importance thereafter being transferred to the Dardanelles, after the building of the "Old Castles" by Sultan Mehmet II (c. 1456).
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- Richard Stillwell, ed. Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites, 1976: "Abydos, (Naara Point) Turkey"