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Brief History of Phoenix​

Phoenix, or Phoinix (Φοῖνιξ), is an ancient Greek city located in Taşlıca, Marmaris, in southwestern Turkey today. The city is one of the settlements of the Carian Chersonese, a sub-region of ancient Caria. According to archaeological data, settlement activities in Phoenix began in the first quarter of the 6th century BCE on the Acropolis, the core of the settlement situated on Hisar Tepe, which is 2 km south of modern Taşlıca village.

During the Archaic Period, the city thrived semi-independently under the political, economic, and religious unity formed by the ‘Caria Chersonese’ towns. Moreover, the Chersonesian cities were considered a single unit in the Athenian tribute, indicating that the peninsula maintained its political and economic unity during the classical period.

After the synoecism of the Rhodian cities in 408 BCE, the Rhodes State colonized the peninsula and ruled the region from the Late Classical period, probably from the first half of the 4th century BCE, throughout the Hellenistic period. Epigraphic data reveal that Camiros ruled Phoenix during this time.

Phoenix and other cities in the region prospered from the beginning of the 3rd century BCE, with Rhodos’ active role in Mediterranean trade and the Bozburun Peninsula serving as a raw material source throughout the Hellenistic period. In this period, the city spread in the north-south direction on the Sindili plain with an increased population due to prosperity and created a unique rural settlement model with farms integrated with ancient agricultural terraces.

The published inscriptions from Phoenix revealed the existence of the deities of Apollo, Zeus, Athena, Dionysus, Aphrodite, and Serapis sanctuaries in the city. The inscribed stepped pyramidal tombs in necropoleis reference the city’s prosperity during the Hellenistic period. The necropoleis of Phoenix lie in the southern, northern, eastern, and western directions, hosting not only the stepped-base pyramidal tombs showing the unique burial customs of the region but also including chamber tombs and chamasorion-type graves. The ancient agricultural terraces, numerous farmsteads, olive oil workshops which cover the entire Sindili plain, and lie down to the ancient Serçe Liman point out the agricultural production scale of the city throughout the ages.

Strabo, the first ancient writer to mention Phoenix, noted that Phoenix mountain was the highest mountain of Caria and pointed out a settlement with the same name nearby. Claudius Ptolemy, who lived in the 2nd century CE, is another ancient geographer who mentioned Phoenix and emphasized a kome or village settlement. Preliminary evidence shows that the city was active during the Roman imperial period as a part of the province of Asia. The Kızlan church dates back to the early Byzantine period, and the pottery proves that human activities at Phoenix continued uninterruptedly throughout Late Antiquity. The geographer Stephanos Byzantinos, who lived in the 6th century CE and mentioned Phoenix (Φοινίκη) as a ‘polis,’ supports these pieces of evidence.

The Kastron type small-size military outpost on the south end of Acropolis, the watchtowers around the city, and the pottery and shipwreck in Serçe Harbour dated to the 11th and 12th centuries CE demonstrate the settlement activities of the Mid and Late Byzantine Period at Phoenix.

Archaeological evidence shows that the traditional agricultural production-based rural lifestyle inherited from antiquity continued uninterrupted through the Middle Ages near the Acropolis Hisartepe, named Phoinikoudi. Phoinikoudi, also known as Fenaket today, is possibly derived from the name Phoenix etymologically. After the compulsory Turkish-Greek population exchange in 1923, the Greek community of the region moved to Symi and Rhodes islands, and the 2600-year-old tradition in Phoenix came to an end. However, the Turkish community of the region still continues its hybrid traditional life in modern Taşlıca Village, which is located 2 km north of ancient Phoenix.