Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 1998.11.19

Getzel M. Cohen, The Hellenistic Settlements in Europe, the Islands, and Asia Minor. Hellenistic Culture and Society, 17.   Berkeley:  University of California Press, 1995.  ISBN 0-520-08329-6.  $65.00.  

Reviewed by Gary Reger, Trinity College (
Word count: 2364 words

Seventy years have now passed since Victor Tscherikower published his classic study of Hellenistic colonies.1 Numbers offer a handy, if not entirely objective, measure of the progress in the years intervening between Tscherikower's book and Getzel Cohen's The Hellenistic Settlements: where Tscherikower had 97 entries in his catalogue of foundations, Cohen gives over 180. The time came long ago for a fresh study, and scholars who work in all aspects of the Hellenistic world will welcome Cohen's monumental compendium, which stands happily with the other great reference collections recently published in the "Hellenistic Culture and Society" series by the University of California Press.2

The Hellenistic Settlements, the first of two projected volumes (the second will deal with foundations in Asia and North Africa), begins with a lengthy, extremely useful introduction to the topic. Cohen reviews some of the most important scholarship since Tscherikower and discusses the source materials, including, of course, literary sources, inscriptions, coins (the only testimony for some foundations), and archaeology. For the last, Cohen cites primarily the annual digests published by various scholarly bodies; for Asia Minor, the most convenient sources are the annual reports of work published by the Turkish Ministry of Culture in Ankara in the series Kazi Sonuçlari Toplantisi and Aratirma Sonuçlari Toplantisi.

Cohen then reviews the colonizing activities and plans of Alexander the Great and his immediate successors. He stresses Alexander's role as a model for the subsequent founding of colonies: his granting of dynastic names (in his case, almost exclusively Alexandreia), his siting of colonies to fulfill a strategic purpose, and his incorporation of the obligation to found cities into the model of kingship that he bequeathed. Some examples from the successors illustrate Alexander's influence. Cohen then offers a geographic overview of the catalogue to follow, organized by region and including a brief historical section focused on who held the local hegemony at what period. The introduction ends with a brief consideration of the purpose of the settlements.

The catalogue occupies the bulk of the book (pp. 73-409).3 It is organized by region, starting with Illyria and Epirus and ending with Bithynia. Within each region the settlements are listed alphabetically, no doubt for ease of reference, though this decision obscures the geographical relations between settlements within the same region. Each entry is relatively brief; that for Ptolemais Lebedos in Ionia, picked at random, can serve as an illustration.

Cohen notes the attempt by Antigonos Monophthalmos to impose a synoikismos on Lebedos and Teos, referring to the classic inscriptions most easily accessible as C.B. Welles, Royal Correspondence in the Hellenistic Period (London 1934) nos. 3-4. He then reviews the scholarship assigning a coin with the legend ΠΤΟ to Lebedos, the publication of Inschriften von Magnesia no. 53, which at lines 79-81 mentions the "Ptolemaians previously called Lebedians," and finally the publication by Louis Robert of a fragment of the Delphic theorodokoi list that cites a Ptolemais between Ephesos and Teos. Cohen considers the possibilities about when the name Ptolemais was imposed and the identity of the Ptolemaic rulers depicted on its coins. He ends by locating Ptolemais-Lebedos with respect to modern Turkish towns; the city is also shown on one of the useful maps at the end of the volume. Detailed citation of the evidence and scholarship are consigned to a set of notes following the main entry, which occupies in total just over three pages.

Cohen manages to pack an extraordinary amount of information into these brief entries. Clearly it would have been impossible to provide an absolutely complete and full discussion of all previous scholarship, but Cohen rarely misses anything important,4 and the secondary literature that he cites will typically lead the interested reader to the rest of the literature. Moreover, the citation of primary material is, so far as I could control it, complete. I cannot overemphasize Cohen's achievement in distilling so much scholarship, covering so many sites and so many years, into these relatively brief, lucidly written entries. The few cases in which I do not fully agree with his interpretations do not detract from my admiration for this splendid book.

Cohen puts a Makedonian colony at Olymos in Karia, a small town near Mylasa, on the basis of the use of Makedonian month names there, the presence of Makedonian names among the inhabitants, and an inscription in which "the phrase ἀπογόνοι τῶν ἐπικληρωθέντων refer[s] to a class of citizens at Olymos" (p. 259). Neither the Makedonian month-names, which appear in fact at neighboring Mylasa, nor the Makedonian personal names make necessary a Makedonian colony, as Cohen recognizes himself elsewhere.5 The "descendants of those assigned by lot" refer, as other inscriptions from Olymos make clear, and as Jeanne and Louis Robert pointed out, to the process whereby citizens of Mylasa were incorporated for civic and religious purposes into the civic body of Olymos after Mylasa absorbed Olymos in a sympoliteia; this process is explicit in the inscription from which the phrase comes.6 There is therefore no evidence to support the assumption of a Makedonian colony at Olymos.7

Usually, however, Cohen's judgment is impeccable; a good illustration occurs in his treatment of Kardakon Kome in Lykia. This settlement is known from an inscription of 181 BC reporting a petition that had been sent to Eumenes II from "those who inhabit Kardakon kome" (οἱ κατοικοῦντες ἐν Καρδάκων κώμῃ).8 Cohen follows earlier suggestions that these settlers were the Kardakians who fought with Antiokhos III at Raphia in 217 BC (Polyb. 5.79.11) or their descendants, settled in Lykia after 197 BC. There is, however, an alternative view, only briefly canvassed by Cohen, that Kardakon Kome was in fact a Persian settlement.9 In a recent study (which Cohen does not mention) N. Sekunda has revived and amplified this idea, concluding firmly that "the 'Village of the Kardakes', together with its fort is, in fact, an Achaemenid foundation ... carried out by Artaxerxes III Ochus, and ... date[d] to around the 340's." Sekunda relies on two main arguments: that the Kardakoi paid the poll-tax, and so should not have been liable for military service; and that their purchase of land from a Ptolemaios proves they were established before Antiokhos III's conquest of Lykia in 197 BC.10 But Cohen has it right on both these points: the payment of a poll-tax simply shows that the status of the community had changed from when it was founded, and the Ptolemaios from whom the Kardakoi bought their land must have been the local dynast Ptolemaios (II) son of Lysimakhos son of Ptolemaios (I), who is attested after Antiokhos III's conquest in 197 BC.11 Indeed, to add a point which Cohen does not mention, the fact that Eumenes, on the request of the Kardakoi, freed them from the obligation to pay for the land, implies that the purchase was relatively recent, and that the seller was able to collect. Neither condition would be likely if the Kardakoi had bought the land from Ptolemaios (II)'s grandfather, many years before either Antiokhos or Eumenes had come to control the region.

Concerning Alexandria by Latmos (pp. 245-246), Cohen does not come down decisively on either of the two suggestions that this foundation was Herakleia by Latmos or Alinda. Recently P.M. Fraser has argued for Alabanda, but not convincingly (in my opinion). It is to be hoped that the continuing work by Anneliese Peschlow at Herakleia will clarify this town's history; since we know that in Classical times there was an indigenous settlement there called Latmos, the foundation of this very Greek-named city right next door -- which was also called Pleistarkheia for a while (pp. 261-263) -- remains very much in need of explanation.12 The inscription from Euromos recording the Karian dynast Pleistarkhos, cited as "unedited" by Cohen (p. 263), has now appeared, and a recent study conveniently collects the various evidence relating to Pleistarkhos' activities.13 Cohen's judgment in his discussion of the foundation of Antiokheia on the Maiandros that "Caria at the end of the third century B.C. was remote, falling away from Seleucid control and the prey of many" (p. 252) is miscast; Karia was an object of intense interest by Antiokhos III, both through his agent Zeuxis at Sardis, about whose activities we are now very well informed, and through Antiokhos himself when he pushed into Karia in 197 BC.14

That it was Koresia on Keos that was renamed Arsinoe by Ptolemaios II is certain, in my view (pp. 137-139). The absence from the theorodokoi list of Poiessa, the fourth, smallest polis of Keos and championed as Arsinoe by G. Daux, would seem decisively to eliminate it as a candidate. Cohen rightly points to the apparent problem that "Koresia," not "Arsinoe," appears in the theorodokoi list whereas "Arsinoe" is given in an inscription of Magnesia of c. 205 BC; the first column of the theorodokoi list dates probably to the late 220s or early 210s (see below). But the contradiction can be resolved. It may be that the compiler(s) of the list we have simply copied an earlier list where Koresia appeared under its original name. Alternatively, the new dynastic name may never have caught on at Delphi; there will be a parallel in Larisa in the Troad if Louis Robert has rightly identified a renaming of it as Ptolemais exactly in the years when Larisa appears with its original name in the lists.15

The case of Koresia points up a continuing major desideratum. About a dozen of Cohen's entries depend for their date in one way or another on the famous Delphic theorodokoi list first published in 1921 and augmented over the years by new discoveries.16 The date of especially column I of this list has been very controversial, and is still not fully settled. Cohen accepts a date of roughly 235-220 BC first proposed by G. Daux in 1949 against a date in the early second century supported by others (p. 124); various subsequent prosopographical identifications have tended to support this earlier date.17 More recent work, however, has apparently tended to favor a slightly later date, perhaps in the late 220s or early 210s.18 A definitive answer to this problem is desperately needed given the centrality of the list to questions of political status and historical geography of the Hellenistic world.

Nine extremely interesting appendices (pp. 413-446) summarize some of the historical conclusions that can be gleaned from Cohen's catalogue. To my mind the most intriguing of these appendices is number V, a list of "Refoundations and New Foundations." Of the 93 settlements listed, fully 75 were refoundations of existing sites; of the 18 new foundations, six were in fact simple relocations of previously existing sites. Only twelve, barely 13% of the total, seem to have been genuine foundations in the sense of creating a settlement more or less ex novo. It is perhaps no surprise that in Greece, the islands, and Asia Minor the successors of Alexander were far more likely to impose their stamp on an existing city with a renaming, often accompanied by genuine benefactions of course, like buildings, grants of various kinds of immunity, or gifts or grain or other goods, than to construct an entirely new foundation. In this practice they were following the pattern of Alexander, who not only seems to have founded no cities in Asia Minor (see pp. 420-423), but also preferred, in the majority of his foundations further east, to have built on Achaemenid foundations.19

This observation brings me to one last point. Alexander has remained, for good reasons, a great dividing line in modern conceptions of the chronology of Greek history. The breakout of Greek culture from its traditional homelands in mainland Greece and the Aegean basin and littoral continues to mark the start of the Hellenistic Age. But continuities with the preceding period persist. Greeks had served the Persians as sculptors, masons, writers, doctors, and most notably mercenaries, and trade in luxury goods always moved back and forth between the Greeks and their great nemesis to the east. This is all familiar ground. What is sometimes, it seems, less remembered is that the Persians did indeed rule all of Asia that later fell to Alexander for a very long time, and that they left their imprint there too, an imprint that lasted well into the Hellenistic period and may be traced in the Persian onomastics, toponyms, and institutions in the Asia Minor.20 In the practice of (re)founding cities, Alexander often followed his Persian predecessors. In following him, the Diadochoi and the Epigonoi were also following, one step removed, a partly Persian model.

As a concrete example of this process, we may consider some of the activities of the Mausolos, Persian satrap of Karia.21 He was responsible for several new or refoundations, and has even been suggested as the moving force or model behind the creation of Kos on Kos in 366 BC.22 Three examples may serve. Mausolos imposed a synoikismos on half a dozen small native settlements to create a new, much enlarged Halikarnassos. He was probably also the one who moved Karian Suangela and Latmos to new sites and provided them with new names -- Theangela and Herakleia -- and extensive fortifications.23 Of course, the Hekatomnids were highly Hellenized, and were interested in Hellenizing their dominon -- as the choice of names for their new foundations shows. But they were nevertheless Persian officials, standing in a Persian tradition, and leaving behind for their followers a marvelous set of examples of what such rulers could accomplish. I doubt very much whether Alexander, in his swift sweep through Karia, would have missed the point.24

In discussing the impact of Persian rule on Hellenistic Asia Minor I have wandered far from the topic of Cohen's book, but that it can excite such considerations shows how enormously rich and far-reaching this book is and how much grist it contains for new research and new questions. Hellenistic Settlements will become a standard reference work for the next generation of Hellenistic historians; it can also serve as a model for the distillation and presentation of a massive, scattered, and difficult body of evidence and scholarship on one of the most difficult, but surely most important, aspects of Hellenistic civilization. I eagerly await the second volume.


1.   Victor Tscherikower, Die hellenistischen Städtgründungen von Alexander dem Grossen bis auf die Römerzeit (Leipzig 1927).
2.   Sheila Ager, Interstate Arbitrations in the Greek World, 337-90 B.C. (Berkeley 1996); Kent Rigsby, Asylia. Territorial Inviolability in the Hellenistic World (Berkeley 1996).
3.   Cohen has chosen to include in the catalogue sites which have been proposed as settlements but which he rejects. These include: Mylasa in Karia, which is canvassed for a colony on the basis of some coins, but Cohen rightly rejects the assumption of Makedonian settlers (p. 256); Pyrrheion in Epeiros, which was certainly a temenos dedicated to Pyrrhos as Cohen suggests, and not a city (p. 78; to Cohen's list at p. 78 n. 2 of such monuments one might add the Antigoneion on Kos; see Iscirizioni di Cos [Rome 1993] ED 85 and 216, though for the latter see the crucial emendation of M. Segre, Rend. Pont. Acc. 17 [1940-41] 29-34); Moschakome and Mostene in Lydia (pp. 219-220); Eumeneia in Karia (p. 255); and Amorion in Phrygia (p. 277). These entries are a bit of a distraction, although of course it is hard to say definitively what to do with them (since readers who have seen them recorded elsewhere as foundations will expect to find them happily nested on the appropriate pages). It helps greatly that Cohen provides an appendix (IV, pp. 426-427) listing them all.
4.   In the case of Ptolemais Lebedos it did strike me as unfortunate not to find a reference to Richard Billows' treatment of the synoikismos inscriptions in Antigonos the One-Eyed and the Creation of the Hellenistic State (Berkeley 1990) 213-215, since his interpretation is radically different from those of Welles and C. Wehrli (Antigone et Démétrios [Geneva 1968] 87-89), whom Cohen does cite.
5.   Rejecting Amorion in Phrygia as a Makedonian colony, asserted on exactly this basis, Cohen writes, correctly, that "the use of Macedonian month names was widespread throughout Asia Minor and was not confined to colonies" (p. 277).
6.   IK Mylasa 861 and 863; Jeanne and Louis Robert, "Bulletin épigraphique," REG 63 (1950) 25 and especially Fouilles d'Amyzon I. Exploration, histoire, monnaies et inscriptions (Paris 1983) 223 n. 14.
7.   Likewise, the evidence for a colony at Metropolis in Phrygia is not convincing. The mere fact that it existed before 189 BC means nothing, and the presence of Makedonian names in inscriptions of Imperial date can hardly point to colonization in the Hellenistic period (p. 313-314).
8.   M. Segre, "Iscrizioni di Licia," Clara Rhodos 9 (1938) 190-207; F.G. Maier, Griechische Mauerbauinschriften (Heidelberg 1959) no. 76; M. Wörrle, Chiron 8 (1978) 241-242.
9.  Cohen, p. 330 n. 2, citing M. Launey, Recherches sur les armées hellénistiques (Paris 1949-1950) 486 n. 4; B. Bar-Kochva, The Seleucid Army (Cambridge 1976) 216 n. 27.
10.   N. Sekunda, "Achaemenid Settlement in Caria, Lycia and Greater Phrygia," in Achaemenid Studies VI. Asia Minor and Egypt: Old Cultures in a New Regime, eds. Heleen Sancisi-Weerdenburg and Amélie Kuhrt (Leiden 1988) 105-106 with Addendum to p. 107 at 143; quoted text at 106. He is now followed by Anthony Keane, "Alexander's Invasion of Lycia: Its Route and Purpose," Ancient History Bulletin 10 (1996) 110-111. The Kardakes are attested as barbarian mercenary troops in 367 BC in Nepos, Datames 14.8.2, and among the forces of Dareios at Issos in 333 BC, Arr. Anab. 2.8.6; cf. A.B. Bosworth, A Historical Commentary on Arrian's History of Alexander I (Oxford 1980) 208. Bosworth takes it as certain that the Lykian village here in question was settled by Antiokhos III's Kardakians.
11.   On this dynasty, see now conveniently Jörn Kobes, "Kleine Könige." Untersuchungen zu den Lokaldynasten im hellenistischen Kleinasien (323-188 v. Chr.), Pharos 8 (St. Katharinen 1996) 145-156, with full references.
12.   P.M. Fraser, Cities of Alexander the Great (Oxford 1996) 28-29. A.W. McNicoll, Hellenistic Fortifications from the Aegean to the Euphrates (Oxford 1997) 75-81
13.   R.M. Errington, "Inschriften von Euromos," EA 21 (1993) 15-18 no. 1 (cf. also P. Gauthier, "Bulletin épigraphique," REG 108 [1995] 521). Andrew Pearce Gregory, "A Macedonian δυνάτης: Evidence for the Life and Career of Pleistarchos Antipatrou," Historia 44 (1995) 11- 28. Cf. also Richard Billows, Kings and Colonists (Leiden 1995) 92-93.
14.   On Zeuxis see J. and L. Robert, Fouilles d'Amyzon 176-181; Philippe Gauthier, Nouvelles inscriptions de Sardes II (Geneva 1989) 39-42. For a summary of Antiokhos III's activity in Karia, see now John Ma, "Antiochos III and the Cities of Western Asia Minor" (Oxford diss. 1997).
15.   G. Daux, "Note sur la liste delphique des Théorodoques," BCH 89 (1965) 660 n. 10. IvMag. 50.78; the notion that this Arsinoe could be on Krete strikes me as impossible: all the other cities listed here are not merely island states, but central Aegean states; the southernmost are the three poleis of Amorgos (ll. 80, 81, 83). On Larisa-Ptolemais, see Cohen, pp. 157-159.
16.   A. Plassart, "Inscriptions de Delphes. La liste des Théorodoques," BCH 45 (1921) 1-85; L. Robert, "Villes de Carie et d'Ionie dans la list des théorodoques de Delphes," BCH 70 (1946) 506-523 (Opera Minora Selecta I [Amsterdam 1969] 327-344).
17.   Georges Daux, "Listes delphiques de théarodoques," REG 62 (1949) 23-27; cf. also BCH 81 (1957) 393-395 and "Trois remarques de chronologie delphique," BCH 104 (1980) 120-123. For the prosopographical identifications, see M. Hatzopoulos, "Une prêtre d'Amphipolis dans la grande liste de théarodoques," BCH 115 (1991) 345-347 with his references at 347 n. 8.
18.   Cf. Paula Perlman, "θεωροδοκοῦντες ἐν ταῖς πόλεσιν. Panhellenic Epangelia and Political Status," in Sources for the Greek City-State, ed. Mogens Herman Hansen (Copenhagen 1995) 130.
19.   Fraser, Cities of Alexander 172-173.
20.   For a good summary of the evidence, see Pierre Briant, "Les Iraniens d'Asie Mineure après la chute de l'empire achéménide," DHA 11 (1985) 167-195, to which add the important text and discussion of J. and L. Robert, Fouilles d'Amyzon 115-118.
21.   See generally Simon Hornblower, Mausolus (Oxford 1982) 78-105.
22.   Nancy Demand, Urban Relocation in Archaic and Classical Greece. Flight and Consolidation (Norman 1990) 132. Hornblower, Mausolus 103-104, is very cautious.
23.   On Suangela-Theangela, see Hornblower, Mausolos 98-99. Polyain. 7.23.2 reports a capture of Latmos by Mausolos, and 8.53.4 by Artemisia as sole ruler. Anneliese Peschlow-Bindokat, "Die Umgestaltung von Latmos in der ersten Hälfte des 4. Jhr. V. Chr.," in Architecture and Society in Hecatomnid Caria (Uppsala 1989) 69, takes this latter as sure evidence that Mausolos did not found Herakleia, but as Hornblower, Mausolus 322-323, remarks, the story may attach rather to the fifth-century Artemisia than to her fourth-century namesake. A Panathenaic amphora dedicated to Zeus Labraundos by a man who identifies himself as a citizen of Herakleia corroborates this date, for the vase belongs to the period roughly between the Athenian archons Polyzelos of 367/6 BC (Kittos group) and Nikomakhos (341/0 BC): see Pontus Hellström, Labraunda. Swedish Excavations and Researches II:1. Pottery of Classical and Later Date, Terracotta Lamps and Glass (Lund 1965) 7-9; Norbert Eschbach, Statuen auf panathenäischen Preisamphoren des 4. Jhs. V. Chr. (Mainz am Rhein 1986) 30-32, 89.
24.   Hornblower, Mausolus 353 calls the Hekatomnids the "[l]ast of the satraps and the first of the Diadochoi."

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