Sites & cities that bear the name of Al-Mina


Today in : Turkey
First trace of activity : ca. 9th century B.C.E
Last trace of activity : ca. 4th century B.C.E
Recorded names : Potamoi Karon, الميناء, al Mina

Description : Al-Mina (Arabic: "the port") is the modern name given by Leonard Woolley to an ancient trading post on the Mediterranean coast of northern Syria, in the estuary of the Orontes River, near Samandağ, in Hatay Province of Turkey. The site was excavated in 1936 by Leonard Woolley, who considered it to be an early Greek trading colony, founded a little before 800 BC, in direct competition with the Phoenicians to the south. He argued that substantial amounts of Greek pottery at the site established its early Euboean connections, while the Syrian and Phoenician cooking pottery reflected a cultural mix typical of an emporium. Disappointed in not finding a Bronze-Age port, Woolley soon moved his interests to the earlier, more urbane site of Alalakh. Woolley's critics point out that he discarded coarse undecorated utilitarian wares, and that the relative numbers of Greek, Syrian and Phoenician populations have not been established. The controversy whether Al Mina is to be regarded as a native Syrian site, with Syrian architecture and cooking pots and a Greek presence, or as an Iron Age Greek trading post, has not been resolved. Al-Mina has been largely overlooked in popular surveys. Later work considered Al-Mina as key to understanding the role of early Greeks in the east at the outset of the Orientalizing period of Greek cultural history. Woolley identified Al-Mina with Herodotus' Posideion, but more recent scholarship places Posideion at Ras al-Bassit. Robin Lane Fox has made a case for the Greek name of the site to have been the Potamoi Karon that is mentioned in Diodorus Siculus' account of Ptolemy I Soter's ravaging of the coastline in 312 BC; he notes its unusual word order and suggestively links it to karu, "trading post", in the inscription text of Tiglath-Pileser III's conquests, which would give "River(s) of the Trading Posts". Woolley, on separate grounds, dated the final extinction of the Al-Mina settlement to the late fourth century BC, perhaps damaged during construction of the port of Seleucia Pieria just to the north. Lane Fox suggests instead this same voyage of coastal destruction was undertaken by Ptolemy in 312 BC.

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