Nysa on the Maeander

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Νῦσα (in Greek)
Nysa, Anatolia.JPG
The theatre of Nysa
Nysa on the Maeander is located in Turkey
Nysa on the Maeander
Shown within Turkey
LocationSultanhisar, Aydın Province, Turkey
Coordinates37°54′06″N 28°08′48″E / 37.90167°N 28.14667°E / 37.90167; 28.14667Coordinates: 37°54′06″N 28°08′48″E / 37.90167°N 28.14667°E / 37.90167; 28.14667
Map of ancient cities of Caria
Ancient cities of Caria

Nysa on the Maeander (Greek: Νύσα or Νύσσα) was an ancient city and bishopric of Asia Minor, whose remains are in the Sultanhisar district of Aydın Province of Turkey, 50 kilometres (31 mi) east of the Ionian city of Ephesus, and which remains a Latin Catholic titular see.

At one time it was reckoned as belonging to Caria or Lydia,[1][2] but under the Roman Empire it was within the province of Asia, which had Ephesus for capital, and the bishop of Nysa was thus a suffragan of the metropolitan see of Ephesus.[3][4][5]

Nysa was situated on the southern slope of mount Messogis, on the north of the Maeander, and about midway between Tralles and Antioch on the Maeander. The mountain torrent Eudon, a tributary of the Maeander, flowed through the middle of the town by a deep ravine spanned by a bridge, connecting the two parts of the town.[6][7][8][9][10][11] Tradition assigned the foundation of the place to three brothers, Athymbrus, Athymbradus, and Hydrelus, who emigrated from Sparta, and founded three towns on the north of the Maeander; but in the course of time Nysa absorbed them all; the Nysaeans, however, recognise more especially Athymbrus as their founder.[12][6]


In Greek mythology, Dionysus, the god of wine was born or raised in Nysa or Nyssa, a name that was consequently given to many towns in all parts of the world associated with cultivation of grapes.[2] The name "Nysa" is mentioned in Homer's Iliad (Book 6.132-133), which refers to a hero named Lycurgus, "who once drove the nursing mothers of wine-crazed Dionysus over the sacred mountains of Nysa".

The town derived its name of Nysa from Nysa, one of the wives of Antiochus I Soter, who reigned from 281 to 261 BC and founded the city on the site of an earlier town called Athymbra (Ἄθυμβρα),[13] a name that continued in use until the second half of the 3rd century BC, but not in the earliest coinage of Nysa, which is of the next century.[1][14] According to Stephanus of Byzantium, the town also bore the name Pythopolis (Πυθόπολις).[15]

The Library of Nysa

Nysa appears to have been distinguished for its cultivation of literature, for Strabo mentions several eminent philosophers and rhetoricians; and the geographer himself, when a youth, attended the lectures of Aristodemus, a disciple of Panaetius and grandson of the famous Posidonius, whose influence is manifest in Strabo's Geography]; another Aristodemus of Nysa, a cousin of the former, had been the instructor of Pompey.[6][16] Nysa was then a centre of study that specialized in Homeric literature and the interpretation of epics. Nysa was ruled by the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire, the Roman Empire and its continuation, the Byzantine Empire and by the Turks, until its final abandonment after being sacked by Tamerlane in 1402. The coins of Nysa are very numerous, and exhibit a series of Roman emperors from Augustus to Gallienus.

Ecclesiastical history[edit]

Hierocles classes Nysa among the sees of Asia, and its bishops are mentioned in the Councils of Ephesus and Constantinople.[10] Nysa became a suffragan of its provincial capital's metropolitan Archdiocese of Ephesus, I the sway of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Of the Byzantine bishops of Nysa in Asia, several are historically documented:[3][4][5]

Titular see[edit]

The diocese was nominally restored in 1933 as Latin Titular bishopric of Nysa in Asia (Latin) / Nisa di Asia (Curiate Italian) / Nysæus in Asia (Latin adjective),[17] of the Episcopal (lowest) rank, but it remains vacant, never having had an incumbent.


Architrave fragment from the Bouleuterion of Nysa

There are important ruins on the site from the Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine periods. The well-preserved theatre, built during the Roman Imperial period, is famous for its friezes depicting the life of Dionysus, god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine. It has a capacity 12,000 people. The library dating from the 2nd century A.D. is considered to be Turkey's second-best preserved ancient library structure after the "Celsus Library" of Ephesus. The stadium of Nysa, which suffered from floods and is therefore partially damaged, has a capacity of 30,000 people. The bouleuterion (municipal senate), later adapted as an odeon, with 12 rows of seats, offers room for up to 600-700 people. Other significant structures include the agora, gymnasion and the Roman baths. The 100 m long Nysa Bridge, a tunnel-like substructure, was the second largest of its kind in antiquity.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Bean, G.E. (1976). The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites. Tufts University, Princeton, N.J. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  2. ^ a b Smith, William. "Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854)". Perseus. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  3. ^ a b Michel Lequien, Oriens christianus in quatuor Patriarchatus digestus, Paris 1740, Vol. I, coll. 705-708
  4. ^ a b Pius Bonifacius Gams, Series episcoporum Ecclesiae Catholicae, Leipzig 1931, p. 444
  5. ^ a b Pascal Culerrier, Les évêchés suffragants d'Éphèse aux 5e-13e siècles, in Revue des études byzantines, vol. 45, 1987, p. 158
  6. ^ a b c Strabo. Geographica. Vol. xiv. p.650. Page numbers refer to those of Isaac Casaubon's edition.
  7. ^ Homeric Hymn 4.17
  8. ^ Pliny. Naturalis Historia. Vol. 5.29.
  9. ^ Ptolemy. The Geography. Vol. 5.2.18.
  10. ^ a b Hierocles. Synecdemus. Vol. p. 659.
  11. ^ Stephanus of Byzantium. Ethnica. Vol. s.v.
  12. ^ Stephanus of Byzantium. Ethnica. Vol. s.v. Ἄθυμβρα.
  13. ^ Stephanus of Byzantium. Ethnica. Vol. s.v.v. Ἀντιόχεια, Ἄθυμβρα.
  14. ^ Getzel M. Cohen, The Hellenistic Settlements in Europe, the Islands, and Asia Minor (University of California Press, 1996: ISBN 0-520-08329-6), p. 257.
  15. ^ Stephanus of Byzantium. Ethnica. Vol. s.v. Πυθόπολις.
  16. ^ Cicero Fam. 13.6.4.
  17. ^ Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013 ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), p. 941
  18. ^ Klaus Grewe, Ünal Özis et al.: "Die antiken Flußüberbauungen von Pergamon und Nysa (Türkei)", Antike Welt, Vol. 25, No. 4 (1994), pp. 348–352 (352)

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSmith, William, ed. (1854–1857). "Nysa". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. London: John Murray.

Sources and external links[edit]

Bibliography - ecclesiastical history
  • Pius Bonifacius Gams, Series episcoporum Ecclesiae Catholicae, Leipzig 1931, p. 444
  • Michel Lequien, Oriens christianus in quatuor Patriarchatus digestus, Paris 1740, Vol. I, coll. 705-708
  • Pascal Culerrier, Les évêchés suffragants d'Éphèse aux 5e-13e siècles, in Revue des études byzantines, vol; 45, 1987, p. 158

Further reading[edit]

  • Walther von Diest: Nysa ad Maeandrum, nach Forschungen und Aufnahmen in den Jahren 1907 und 1909, Reimer, Berlin 1913 (Jahrbuch des Kaiserlich Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Erg.-Heft 10)
  • Vedat İdil: Nysa ve Akharaka = Nysa and Acharaca, Istanbul 1999, ISBN 975-6934-04-2
  • Musa Kadioğlu, 'Die scaenae frons des Theaters von Nysa am Maeander. Diss. University of Freiburg im Breisgau 2002
  • Musa Kadıoğlu: Die Scaenae Frons des Theaters von Nysa am Mäander. von Zabern, Mainz 2006. (Forschungen in Nysa am Mäander; 1) ISBN 3-8053-3610-1.
  • Musa Kadıoğlu, Der Opus Sectile-Boden aus dem Gerontikon-Bouleuterion von Nysa ad Maeandrum, in: Asia Minor Studien, Band 34, 1999, 175-188. Taf. 34-35; in Turkish: “Menderes Nysası Bouleuterion-Gerontikon'u Opus Sectile Döşemesi”, in: Türk Arkeoloji ve Etnografya Dergisi, 1, 2000, 9-16.
  • Musa Kadıoğlu – Philip von Rummel, Frühbyzantinische Funde aus dem Theater von Nysa am Maeander, in: Anadolu/Anatolia 24, 2003, 103-119
  • Musa Kadıoğlu, Zwei korinthische Kapitelle aus Nysa am Mäander, in: C. Özgünel – O. Bingöl – V. İdil – K. Görkay – M. Kadıoğlu (Hrsg.), Cevdet Bayburtluoğlu için yazılar / Essays in Honour of C. Bayburtluoğlu. Günışığında Anadolu / Anatolia in Daylight (2001) 156-161.
  • Vedat İdil – Musa Kadıoğlu, 2003 Yılı Nysa Kazı ve Restorasyon Çalışmaları, in: KST 26.1, 2004 (2005) 387-400.
  • Vedat İdil – Musa Kadıoğlu, 2004 Yılı Nysa Kazı ve Restorasyon Çalışmaları, in: KST 27.2, 2005 (2006) 131-146.
  • Musa Kadıoğlu, Menderes Nysası’ndan Bir Kantar / Eine Schnellwaage aus Nysa am Mäander, in: E. Öztepe – Musa Kadıoğlu (Hrsg.), Patronvs. Coşkun Özgünel’e 65. Yaş Armağanı / Festschrift für Coşkun Özgünel zum 65. Geburtstag (2007) 229-235
  • Vedat İdil – Musa Kadıoğlu, “2005 Yılı Nysa Kazı ve Restorasyon Çalışmaları“, in: KST 28.1, 2006 (2007) 647-670