The Hellenistic settlement at Bybassos lies primarily on a spur of land consisting of three hills on an east-west axis. Westward is the open gulf, while to the east lies the modern village of Hisarönü, and to the north and south are flat plains (figure 1). The plains to either side of the peninsula are the result of the infilling of two bays, probably due to erosion of the nearby hill and mountain sides, as well as the accumulation of alluvium brought to the area by a river less than 1.5 kilometers north of Bybassos.

Looking toward the hill of Bybassos where the main part of the city lies.

On the spur’s eastern end is the sacred hill, steep and difficult to scale or round. With a bay to either side and open water to the west, the peninsula-based Hellenistic city would thus have had limited access to the land along the edges of the bays at the base of the sacred hill. This gave Bybassos a natural defense against hostile incursions via land.


Creating a seaside settlement on a peninsula was a fairly common practice in the ancient Mediterranean.  It is “an excellent solution” to harbor placement, and a number of ancient cities were founded on a peninsula with harbors located to either side. Parallels to other sites illuminate the location of harbors at places like Bybassos where harbor works and anchorages are now obscured by infill. The spur at Hisarönü has a saddle between each of its three hills, and alongside each saddle to either side is an indentation in the line of the spur. Each of these indentations may have served as a harborage for commercial vessels or even warships, and are prime targets for investigation.


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Text and photos copyrighted by Ralph K. Pedersen Reproduction with permission only.