11 July 2010

Magnesia on the Maeander

One of the 2 ancient cities in western Turkey named Magnesia was located near the Maeander (Meander) River*. Its surviving remains are among the lesser known and rarely visited sites. Last month while I was in the area, I toured Magnesia on the Maeander solely for the purpose of collecting snails. I was the only visitor at the site for about an hour and was quite impressed by what I saw.

According to George Bean (Aegean Turkey, 1966), Magnesia was founded by Greek colonists from the original Magnesia in northern Greece. Bean didn't state when the city may have been founded, but it seems that it was around at least as early as 400 B.C.E.

A nearby placard indicated that the structure in the following picture was the "propylon" or the market gate that connected the agora with the sanctuary of Artemis. Apparently, it was actually a building that had "two aisles with ten columns and six pillars". What is the difference between a column and a pillar?

Incidentally, the most common land snail at the site was the species formerly known as Helix aspersa.

*The other one was at the location of the current city of Manisa located ~100 km to the north.

1 comment:

Duane Smith said...

In most usages, ‘columns’ and ‘pillars’ represent a distinction without a difference. The words are generally interchangeably. But specialized usages do show up in literature. Sometimes the cylindrical shaft of a column, as opposed to the whole thing with its base and capital, is called the pillar. If I remember correctly, some historians of architecture make a distinction between a pillars that lack circular bases and columns that have them. Others see pillars as monolithic and columns as composite with several sections stacked one on the other. I think some others use ‘column’ to name an architectural feature of a building while they use ‘pillar’ for free standing sticky up things (or is it the other way around?). I don’t think there is much, if any, uniformity in these specialized usages.