The Assos Journals of Francis H. Bacon - Archaeology Magazine Archive

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The Assos Journals of Francis H. Bacon December 1, 2006
Edited by Lenore O. Keene Congdon

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The tomb of Publius Varius, in a restoration drawing by Francis Bacon. It was in the ruins of this tomb that--as he noted in his journal--he often ate dinner!

In its early years, the Archaeological Institute of America sponsored investigations in the American Southwest from 1880 to 1884 and excavations at Assos (Turkey) from 1881 to 1883 and at Cyrene (Libya) and Quirigua (Guatemala) during the early 1900s. Extracts from the journal of Francis H. Bacon, one of the Assos expedition leaders, appeared in the April 1974 issue of ARCHAEOLOGY. Those are republished here, illustrated with a selection of photographs and drawings from his monumental publication of the excavation, Investigations at Assos.

In the late 1870s, when modern archaeology was still in its infancy, a young man named Francis H. Bacon toured the Aegean in a small craft with his friend, Joseph Thacher Clarke. Clarke had a small grant from the newly founded Archaeological Institute of America to help him in his study of Doric architecture. It was the Institute's hope that Clarke would find an archaeological site suitable for extensive investigation. Among the many ancient cities the two men visited was that of Assos in the southern Troad, opposite Mytilene; there they saw extensive ruins, impressive enough for Clarke to recommend the site for further exploration. Under the leadership of its president Charles Eliot Norton, Professor of Classics at Harvard University, the Archaeological Institute of America soon collected the necessary funds to send a team to Assos. Clarke was asked to head the excavation, and he chose Bacon to be his second in command. The expedition lasted three seasons, and it was left to Bacon to complete the huge task which he and Clarke had begun in 1881. Bacon's work at Assos, in fact, stretched over a lifetime; at his personal expense he undertook the completion of the full five volumes of the Investigations at Assos after Clarke had abandoned the project under the pressure of family life. Not until 1927 did Bacon finish the task of publication, or as he said, "kiss it Goodbye."

Bacon kept journals while the excavations proceeded, and it is from his "Assos Days" that the following excerpts are taken. The journals were not intended for publication; indeed, Bacon whimsically subtitled it "the Personal letters and Journals of Francis H. Bacon Transcribed for the benefit of Family and Friends But interesting chiefly to Himself." The document is a personal and exuberant account of a young man's romantic adventure in the old and ancient world. It not only records the progress of the excavation, but it evokes a bygone era of elegant manners and privileged leisure--Queen Victoria's Europe, in whose several glittering capitals Bacon spent his winters, partying, attending court and meeting old friends. An immensely curious traveler, he describes with gusto and humor his horseback odysseys to various sites in Asia Minor, his friendships with Greeks and Turks, the exasperations of sea travel and the team's Byzantine conflicts with the government in Istanbul.

Bacon compiled his letters and journals in 1927 and gave one copy of the material to his close friend and protege, Albert Seylaz, a Swiss professor of French who taught in Turkey for many years and who himself became an expert on the Ionian region. Seylaz, like Bacon, remained an amateur in the bst of senses, amassing his knowledge of the classical world form first-hand visits to the sites and acting as host to various classicists and archaeologists passing through the area. In Turkey, around 1933, Dr. Seylaz became close friends with Dr. and Mrs. J. Calvin Keene. Shortly before his death in 1967, Dr. Seylaz made a gift of his copy of "Assos Days" to their daughter Lenore O. Keene Congdon, who has selected the following excerpts.

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Plan of the Assos acropolis showing the Temple of Athena, medieval walls and towers, and the Turkish village of Behram

Note of Introduction

. . . I stayed in Albany till July, 1878, when my friend, J.T. Clarke, and myself sailed for England on our way to Turkey and Greece! C. was to write a history of Doric Architecture and I was to make sketches and drawings of all the temples and sites!. . . amongst the sites we visited was that of Assos in the Southern Troad opposite Mitylene [nowadays usually spelled Mytilene], where there were the remains of a large Greek city and a very early Doric temple. Clarke wrote quite a report on this Temple and sent it to Prof. Charles Eliot Norton of Cambridge, who was so much interested that he got a group of men together and formed the Archaeological Institute of America with the idea of exploring this or some other ancient Greek site.

. . . Clarke returned to the U.S. The Archaeological Institute prospered and decided to raise money and excavate the site of Assos. C. was appointed the head the expedition and he wished me to join him. . . . The advance party consisted of Clarke and myself with Maxwell Wrigley, a young architect and great friend of mine. . . . Charles W. Bradley, C. Howard Walker, W. C. Lawton, Edward Robinson and J.H. Haynes were to join us later.

In January, 1881, Clarke, Wrigley and I sailed for England on our way to Asia Minor. We were to stay a short while in London getting our outfit. Then I was to go to Paris to make careful drawings of the sculptures from the Assos Temple which were in the Louvre Museum; then to Smyrna and Assos.

Mitylene--March 29th, 1881

On the 23rd the wind lightened, we [Wrigley and Bacon] bought some prvisions and started for Assos. The wind was still rather fresh and we bowled along for about ten miles when it blew harder and became squally to windward. . . . To cap the climax a furious rain and thunder storm came up, which at least did us good by washing the salt out of our clothes still hanging in the rigging! We . . . ran for a little cove on the north end of Mitylene, called Paillos. There were a number of boats in the cove that had taken shelter from the storm. . . .

The next day the wind blew cold right down from the snow of Mt. Ida, and as our clothes were not dry, we stayed on board wrapped in our quilts. . . .

The next day the wind was light, and finally, about sunset, we ran into the little port of Assos! Hurrah!

March 26th we spent in going over the ruins, which seemed of vast extent, and I saw many things I had overlooked in my previous visit in 1879. . . . The next day we returned to Mitylene!. . .

Reached Mitylene about one o'clock and found Eliot Norton just arrived and very glad to see us. He had left Clarke in Smyrna looking after our cases of goods, and brought word that I was to come at once to Smyrna to help. . . .

Finally, on April 19th, with a light S.E. wind, we [Clark, Wrigley, Norton and Bacon] managed to reach the little port of Assos! We all slept in the boat that night and next day hired a small room in one of the magazines for $1.60 a month, and transported our surveying instruments and things ashore. C. and I went up to the Acropolis to look things over and were more than ever impressed with the great extent of the ancient city. We have undertaken an immense work and I only hope we can carry it out. We are here in a room about eight feet square, Clarke, Wrigley, Eliot Norton and myself, all trying to write, with one candle gummed on the transit box in the centre, and the open door and our one window filled with wild looking Turks peering in and who are very curious as to what we are about. . . .

. . . April 21st. . . I found the cross hairs of the transit were broken, so I went mousing about for a spider web to repair them with. It was quite a delicate operation but I succeeded very well!

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A large ornamented sarcophagus at Assos seen in a photograph at the time of the excavations and in a restoration drawing

Assos--April 22nd, 1881

This morning Eliot and I arose with the lark and had a refreshing dip in the sea. After breakfasting on condensed milk, olives and bread, we took a lovely walk up the coast towards Mt. Ida--the country seeming very fertile and the land much refreshed after the recent rain. The ground as covered with flowers and the air full of perfume!

Assos--Monday, May 2nd, 1881

Began the survey yesterday. Went up with a pillow case full of stakes and measured two base lines for beginning our triangulations, one in the river valley and one on the terrace of the Street of Tombs! . . .

Wrigley and I spent several days walking about the ruins projecting our survey. The country is very uneven, rocky and covered with clumps of impenetrable bushes and the line A-B in the To[u]zla valley was the only level place for an accurate base line, and we measured 500 metres with steel tape, locating it with stake and tack every 20 metres! We next established stations on the Acropolis and at prominent points completing our triangles. In a short time we shall have sufficient data to prepare a large sale plan of the ancient city! On this we will locate whatever of interest is found during the excavations!

Assos--May 4th, 1881

Good day's work on the survey. Settled stations at various points. A lovely still day, air perfumed with flowers, voices of people at work in the fields, and now and then a bird. We could hear each other distinctly as we shouted across the country from point to point! Lunched in the shade of the mosque. Funny little owl blinked at us from a cranny in the wall.

Assos--May 12th, 1881

The late comers of this expedition can never know the hardships we pioneeers have been through--wrecked on voyages over here--sleeping out in the rain--going hungry, etc., etc.,--all of which may be punishment for my sins, so I don't complain!

The port is a lively little village of just four buildings and not a woman in the place, miserable outcasts that we are! The Turkish village is very near the top of the Acropolis on the northern slope. It consists of about fifty houses of one story with flat earthen roofs--all of very poor construction. . . . The distance by the road down to the port is about three-quarters of an hour. . . . I expect Mr. Haynes to arrive soon and there will be nothing for him to do until we begin excavating, and that cannot be until we receive the firman [permit]. It is unfortunate that this is not granted yet as it will take some time to get the necessary men and implements together and I am unwilling to begin about this until we are sure of the firman.

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Assos city gate number 8, the principal eastern gateway.

Assos--May 16, 1881

Drew on plan; made tracing of mosque door with inscription. In the evening, after finishing our frugal meal, a string of horses led by two Zaptiehs with long guns were seen coming down the Acropolis, followed by an old fellow in a white helmet. I went up and spoke to him; found it was Dr. [Heinrich] Schliemann making a tour of the Troad and trying to locate the cities of Homer! Eliot took him to our bathing place and afterwards he spent the evening with us. He wouldn't talk about anything but prehistoric remains and cared nothing for our work here. He had a stunning coin of Assos of which I made a sketch. . . . He is a knowing old chap, but I think a bit cracked! He seems much older then when I met him at Hissarlik in 1879. He thinks this must be ancient "Chrysa" [i.e., Chryse]!

Assos--June 6th, 1881

The past week we have been busy surveying and planning future work. The place grows on us daily. It is something enormous! The south slope of the Acropolis must have been a wonderfully picturesque place! A large terrace just above the theatre, with a portico at the back 300 feet long, flanked at each end by temples or other secular buildings. What a place it must have been for youth and beauty to promenade in the cool stone porch before the performance in the theatre below! The portico and terrace lined with sculpture and works of art! 'Tis high up over the sea, the blue mountains of Mitylene opposite! Then there are the hundreds of sarcophagi and monuments at the Street of Tombs, and the imposing fortification walls around, crowned on top by the old temple, and when one thinks of the fertile valley and the cool river flowing through it right down from Mt. Ida, everything goes together! The clean cut Greeks and their surroundings of Temples, Tombs and Porticos! Long live the memory of the bright and merry Greeks!. . .

Some time ago while mousing about the Acropolis I discovered two fragments of the temple reliefs built into a mediaeval wall. So last night Haynes, Lawton and I went up to tear down this wall and get at the treasures! It was a beautiful evening "When all the winds were laid," but the Genoese mortar was like iron. We worked nearly two hours trying to get off an enormous block that [was] laid on top. . . . At last, just as the sun sank, it moved, and a little well directed prying soon tumbled it over the edge and it went crashing and smoking down the side of the Acropolis. We mopped our brows and gazed off over the scenery! Mt. Ida's tip was touched by the last rays of the sun and faded off into purple. The valley of the Touzla below us was already in shadow, the river showing like a silver thread, and a clear moon over our shoulders didn't exactly know whether to shine or not until the sun's influence was fairly gone. We turned from the beautiful view to our pecking and soon pulled out a stunning fragment of the [temple] frieze, a perfectly preserved Sphinx's head sculptured on it. Better than any of those in the Louvre! It had the same insolent, self-satisfied smile so characteristic of Archaic Greek heads, and wasn't at all abashed at having been in durance vile for over three hundred years under a mediaeval wall! We gave three cheers for our find and went down the Acropolis singing--arm in arm!

Assos--Sept. 6th, 1881

. . . We have been busy surveying, measuring and prospecting. We have had a gang of twenty to thirty men at work since Aug. 6th, and it is no small job to superintend these, decide where to dig and keep in our heads the arrangement of the different buildings! We began excavating on the Acropolis, and the first pit struck the stylobate of the temple, which we soon cleared off, as there was only from one to four feet of debris. Not a single [column] drum was in position as the whole floor had been cleared and built on in mediaeval times. In the centre a bit of the black and white mosaic pavement remained. The floor of the temple was swept and washed and there came to light traces of the columns and the scratches made to guide their placing. [Charles F. M.] Texier never saw the stylobate for his restoration of the plan is wrong. There was no epinaos [room at rear of temple], but otherwise the temple is very like in plan and nearly the same size as the Theseum at Athens. Underneath the mosaic we found a well preserved coin of Gargara of about 400 B.C., showing that the temple floor had probably been repaired after that date. We also found a well preserved terra cotta antefix which certainly indicates a very early date for the temple. At the theatre we have uncovered some of the bottom rows of seats, with the railings of the orchestra. There is not enough left of the scena to make a restoration! It makes one's blood boil to think how this grand old city has been devastated within the last fifty years! The Turkish government has been carting away cut stones, and every little village in the neighborhood comes here for building material. Many a stone which might be the key of our present problems has probably been carried off in this manner. . . .

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Detail of mosaic from the Byzantine church at Assos

Assos--Sept. 21st, 1881 (Letter to Prof. W.R. Ware)

. . . Tomorrow we shall have company. Mr. [Edward] Robinson and wife, with Mr. Fottion, the [American] consul . . . are coming up on a small steamer to see Assos! . . . The mosaic pavements are all swept clean and I have some jars of water all ready to pour over them! This brings out the delicate colors and will delight the ladies!

Assos--October 4th, 1881

. . . We have just finished dragging down the sculptured temple blocks and have them all securely housed here in our magazine. . . . last week Demetri . . . was set at work to make a road from the top of the Acropolis to the port, clearing away stones and bushes, and building up where necessary. We took advantage of the road used in former times when the Turks were transporting stones to Constantinople. In getting the blocks below we used a heavy wooden drag or sledge shod with iron made in Pergamon! This was carried to the Acropolis on the back of a poor, long suffering horse! The stones were tied securely on the drag, and with ten men before and ten men behind with ropes, they made short work of it, running down the steep places, and yelling all the time! They had to pull rather hard over the few level spaces, and if it takes so much engineering to drag a miserable little fragment down hill, it makes one admire the ancients who carried such enormous blocks up there!

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Restoration drawing of the Temple of Athena at Assos, eastern front

Assos--Nov. 15, 1881

. . . Ugh! It's cold tonight! We have a brazier of charcoal in the room but it only takes the edge off! Lamp chimney's busted and I've got three candles gummed to the edge of the table! C. is playing the guitar! [Arthur] Diller [a geologist who joined the party in July] is writing! Wind is howling and so is our dog! There, you have my scena!

Assos--Dec. 3rd, 1881

On the night of Nov. 28th when the North Star passed the meridian we set up the transit on the Temple stylobate and established a true N. and S. line! The main axis of the Temple was about 15 degrees South of East, and the peak of Lepethymnos was due South from the stylobate.

Naples--Feb. 15, 1882 (Letter to Prof. W. R. Ware) [at the end of first season]

. . . I think when I get back to New York I will . . . draw out for you what ideas I have on Greek polychromy, etc. I have thought considerably about it, and I feel sure the Greek colors were not the raw, tasteless ones that [Jacques I.] Hittorf, [Gottfried] Semper and others have been imposing on us! There is so little data left that it is hard to determine the question absolutely. We are only reasonably sure that a blue was in such and such a place, a red, a gold, etc., in others. It seems natural that a tradition at least of the old Greek polychromy, as regards tones, should be preserved in Byzantine work! The soft colors of a Byzantine mosaic are beautiful to me, but the vivid colors of most modern restorers of Greek work are ugly. [Christian F.] Hansen has done some very good work in Vienna and in the new Academy in Athens, but even his colors are too lively for me!

[Second Season]

Assos--March 2nd, 1882 (Joint letter written to Walker, Bradley Lawton and Anne Lawton)

My Dear Friends: I did it! At 3:00 p.m. on March 1st I formally announced to the governor at Aivadjik the opening of the work at Assos! And didn't I feel relieved though! I've had a hard time getting here and now I'm going to take it easy for a few days and recuperate. . . .

Assos--March 11th, 1882

. . . We began excavating a few days ago at the Street of Tombs and have about ten men at work. Constanti goes up to set them at work about 6:30. I follow along about 8:00, and little Apostoli brings up my dinner, which I generally eat in P. Vario Aquila's tomb. . . . We have already made quite a hole in the Street of Tombs near the big gate and I'm going to run a prospecting trench clear up the hill and hope to strike some unopened sarcophagi! The men work very industriously and I pay them different wages, from seven to ten piastres, and it works better than when all receive the same pay! Work has been very scarce in the country during the winter and I am besieged with applicants. . . .

Assos--March 25th, 1882 (Letter to Prof. Ware)

Sing, O Muse, a nobler theme, and tell Mr. Ware how he should have been on the Acropolis yesterday and seen the fun! There! my lady is dainty and the spirit of eight ancient Greeks in as many black jars on a shelf over my shoulder probably affright her! So I shall have to "rise into prose" and tell you what an exciting time we had yesterday! I have been digging for the past three weeks at the Street of Tombs, sinking pits and cutting trenches all over it. Yesterday we struck a very ancient burial spot and spent the last two hours of the afternoon in pulling out little black [A]rchaic jars full of calcined bones, small earthen vessels, etc. They were thick as plums in a pudding! The majority were small, about 25 cm. high and of different patterns. They all had saucer-like lids; one or two had bronze covers. There was nothing in these small jars but earth and calcined bones! In amongst the small vessels we found about five large earthen jars about 60 cm. high, 40 cm. [in] diameter! One of these we got out entire; inside of it were four tiny earthen vessels, together with human bones. The other large jars were broken by the stones and earth, but we found many little vessels that were formerly inside. The drawing table is covered with them.

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Ruins during excavation and restoration drawing of the heroon (hero shrine, small building at left) and stoa (long structure at right) at Assos

Assos--May 18, 1882

We are now working away at the Bouleuterion. [Robert T.] Koldewey is bringing out the buildings in the agora in fine shape. He has just decided that the stoa had two stories, so those troublesome double columns are disposed of. I tell him he will bring out a mansard roof and jig-sawed eaves next. We finished digging out that deep cistern near the subterranean passage the other day. Found in it another piece of the inscription from the agora that we found last year and a fine marble head of Alexander type. I suppose someone threw it down the cistern to hear it go plunk! . . .

In the Assos Theatre--May 20th, 1882

Am up on the top row of seats, which have just been laid bare, and I can look down on the "scena" where the men are wheeling off the dirt and debris. Demetri and Ali are making a deep cut into the west slope, Charalambos and Panniote are digging a trench up the middle from the orchestra to the top, while Karaghus, Strati and Omer are busy in various parts of the auditorium! Wouldn't it be great if I could go back two thousand years and the herald should come out and announce a performance! The stone seats were not very luxurious, but we know that many people brought their own cushions!

Assos--Oct. 17th, 1882 (Letter to Prof. Ware)

. . . As fast as we uncover a wall of dressed stone the Turks are apt to demolish it! The camels come here loaded with valonea and go back to their villages each with a building stone slung on their sides! The gypsy smiths steal all the iron clamps as fast as we expose them, and next year a new magazine will be built here at the port all of ancient blocks. In ten years it won't be much use coming here to see Greek ruins; better go to Athens! . . .

Our plans for the future here at Assos change with every moon. At present are at a standstill for lack of money! There is, however, plenty to do at drawing and measuring. There still remains the disagreeable task of getting the sculptures out of the country and I truly wish that some others than ourselves could take charge of it. . . . We can only do our best! You have the photographs and drawings of the sculptures and you can judge yourselves what you can afford to pay for them [in baksheesh to get them out of the country]! . . . As for us here, bankruptcy stares us in the face. . . . It's most vexatious! I have reserved these last two months for the Street of Tombs and Gymnasium, and now there's no money to dig with. . . .

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Restoration drawing of a vaulted tomb at Assos with a cut-away to show its construction method

Assos--Dec. 12, 1882 (to Prof. Norton)

On Nov. 16th [emergency funds having arrived] I began excavating again at the Street of Tombs! Omer is our lucky man! Almost the first stroke of his pick uncovered a marble pedestal of the P. Varius tomb. It was sculptured on all four sides with festoons of fruit, flowers, etc. A cavity sunk in the top showed that it once supported a statue! The tomb is backed up immediately against the high city wall! A few days after finding the pedestal, in digging at the rear of the tomb we found the head of a female statue, together with some fragments of drapery and portions of the left hand grasping some fruit! This seems to indicate that the statue was of Ceres or Persephone! The Street of Tombs is going to be a most interesting plan! All the principal tombs and sarcophagi have been excavated and carefully drawn to scale! I have also determined the main architectural outline of the terraces and located the two paved roads that lead up to the two gates [gates 4 and 5]! The necropolis is such a collection of small isolated ruins that at first a complete idea of the original plan was impossible! Profiting by the experience of last season, this year I attacked the monuments separately with a resolute disregard of their relation to each other; excavated the most worthy and drew them in plan, elevation and detail; then located each in a general survey and strung them along on a large map, which is about ten feet long, and lo, order is come out of chaos! Where before seemed nothing but confusion, now appears the hand of man, and the monuments are placed with such a picturesque regard for their purpose and for each other that the appreciative soul is filled with delight!

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The principal western gateway (number 5) at Assos

We have been clearing off a paved entrance to the Street of Tombs near the large Western gateway [gate 5], where there was a milestone set up and quite a collection of interesting bases for stelae, etc. This must have been the very gate through which St. Paul entered the city as he came on foot from Alexandria Troas . . . His comrades in the meanwhile were waiting for him with their ship in our little port below! The large pavement blocks are polished by the many feet that have passed over them!

Assos--Jan. 4th, 1883 (Letter to Prof. Norton)

I write to say that I have changed my plans! I find it absolutely necessary for me to return here next season for a few months at least! My work is not sufficiently complete to be handed over to anyone else and I must finish it myself!

[Third Season]

Assos--May 30th, 1883

Clarke goes to Constantinople this week to arrange about the division of the antiquities. The task of supervising the division and shipping the things I have left entirely to him, which will be better than if we both troubled ourselves about it! This leaves me all my time for my work and I can finish quicker.

June 25, 1883 On board this craft going boiling down to Smyrna Bay! (Letter to Anne Lawton)

. . . I find I am rather tired by the monotony at Assos. I never was cut out for this hermit existence! I dream all the time of a snug little den somewhere in New York, with my books and pictures about me and my friends within reach.

Assos--July 1st, 1883

We have just finished the division of the antiquities with Baltazzi Bey, the commissioner sent by the Turkish government! He proved to be a very pleasant Greek, well up in archaeological matters, and there was not the slightest disagreement with his decisions! As the land belonged to the government two-thirds went to the Turks.

Assos--August 4th, 1883 (Letter to Prof. Norton)

I have agreed to remain and send off the cases containing our antiquities. They are all packed and I am waiting our order from Constantinople allowing their shipment! A complication has arisen since Clarke left which was not foreseen! I only agreed to stay and send them on his assuring me that all the papers were en règle [in order according to the rules]! The document which he handed me was written in Turkish and I found on translating that it contained merely a list of the things which had been divided; i.e. of our third of the terra cottas, sculptures, etc., and no mention was made of the many architectural and other fragments that we desired to carry away! Seeing that I was nearly ready to ship the boxes, the customs officer here came to me and said that he had received express orders to allow nothing to be shipped that was not on the list! The things mentioned in the list were packed in some thirteen boxes, while there were forty-one additional cases containing the temple capitals, cornice blocks, triglyphs and other fragments for which there was no permit in writing. . . . wrote to Mr. Baltazzi, the commissioner who made the division, begging him to write immediately to the authorities in Constantinople and explain that these additional objects were architectural fragments etc. of no value to any but ourselves and which we desired to illustrate our studies of the ancient buildings!. . . It was a great oversight of Clarke's that he did not get something in writing from Baltazzi regarding these. . . fragments! . . .

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Remains of a round tower in the northwest wall of Assos

Smyrna--Oct. 16th 1883 (Letter to Prof. Ware)

I went to Smyrna on the 12th Sept. on the little steamer that touches here. . . . I went to see about shipping the cases of antiquities, as the permission to send them had come at last. I had no end of trouble about the business, and having arranged the preliminaries, I came back to Assos to finish my packing, ship off the cases. . .

Just before leaving Assos I was much touched by a delegation of Turks from the villages coming down to our rooms, all dressed in their best clothes. . . and in a very graceful speech they thanked the Americans for giving them work during our stay! We served coffee all around and parted feeling that they were truly our friends!

End of Assos Journals.

A Visit to Assos in 1904 (Letter to Prof. Norton)

. . . I feel that I must sit down and try and give you some impression of my visit to our old site, where I spent three of the most interesting summers of my life; and now after twenty years to sit under the plane tree at the port, and greet all my old Turkish and Greek friends, was I assure you a great pleasure! . . .

Thursday, June 23rd, Assos! [Still in letter to Prof. Norton]

Here at last on the old spot! . . . They have built a new mole with stoa columns set as mooring posts! . . . All crowd around and mighty pleased to see me! I ask after the old friends! . . . Break away from them at last to get a run on the hill before sunset! Yes, I know the way! Ought to, having footed it four times a day for three seasons! besides measuring almost every inch of it! Hurry up the old steep road, and the man of 47 puffs more than the youngster of 26! What a vast place Assos is! And however did we do all that surveying and measuring! Stop at the theatre, now all ruined, and the scena built over as a goat shelter hardly recognizable. Go next to the famous Baths to see those important lintels! Yes, no doubt of it, those rooms were shops, and the lintels were arranged for wooden shutters put up and down every day! How I wish Koldewey were here! Small holes were for metal hooks to hang bunches of merchandise! The only disturbing thing[s] were the big square blocks of the pillars lying halfway up the slope! These I had restored as belonging to the lower story! Great damage has been done since we were here--stones broken and carried off, earth and debris washed down from the Agora above!. . . Fortunately we have every stone on paper, as the place is now a scene of desolation. . . .

This morning got up at 5 a.m. and went for my turn on the Acropolis! 'Twill be my last visit so I must see everything necessary and take as many photos as possible! As I'm wandering over the ruins, a friendly hail from a Turk coming down the hill. 'Tis Ahmet . . . and he says he will accompany me and hold the umbrella while on my rounds. So Ahmet is photographed right and left!. . .

Ahmet and I go down to the Port! Sit under the plane tree in front of the old cafe! Plash of the fountain! . . . Finally I bring out the Book of Assos, Part 1, which I have had bound and brought as a present to the Village to always remain with the head man for the benefit of travelers and others. I had a Turkish scribe at Dardanelles put in a dedication in large Turkish script, and all the inhabitants crowd around to see the pictures; . . . the photographs [of themselves] please them best. . . . Great excitement, and the future visitor to Assos will have to look at this book whether he wishes to or not; but judging by the way the ruins are disappearing, the book will be all that's left ere long! . . . Depart at 5 p.m. Very rough and steep road down into the valley of the river; beautiful view of Mt. Ida under the setting sun! Farewell, Assos!

Lenore O. Keene Congdon received a Ph.D. in Fine Arts from Harvard University in 1963. In 1958 she participated in the Sardis Expedition as assistant recorder. Having published independent research on Greek statuary, she is currently preparing a manuscript on Greek caryatid mirrors.

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© 2006 by the Archaeological Institute of America
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