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Al Mina, Tyremarker is a spectacular and more familiar Roman site near Tyremarker.
Al Mina (Arabic "the port") is the modern name given by Leonard Woolley to an ancient trading post on the Mediterranean coastmarker of northern Syria, in the estuary of the Orontesmarker, near present-day Samandagmarker in Turkey's province (il) of Hataymarker.

Its excavator in 1936, Leonard Woolley, considered it to be an early Greek trading colony, founded a little before 800 BC, in direct competition with the Phoeniciansmarker to the south. He argued that substantial amounts of Greek pottery at the site established its early Euboeanmarker connections, while the Syrian and Phoenician cooking pottery reflected a cultural mix typical of an emporium.

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, occupies specialists.

It served as an entrepôt for cultural influences that accompanied trade with Urartu and the shortest caravan route to Assyrian cities of upper Mesopotamia. Through Al Mina and Greek traders in Cyprusmarker the Phoenician alphabet, and much technology besides, were transmitted to Euboeamarker and mainland Greece in the eighth century BC. Al Mina was destroyed about 700, perhaps by Sennacherib, who repressed a rebellion at Tarsosmarker in 696, but it was immediately rebuilt. Pottery recovered from later levels of the site show that a Greek presence remained at Al Mina through the fourth century, with pottery imported from Miletusmarker and deftly imitated locally, apparently by Greek potters.

The excavations at Al Mina were initiated in 1936 by Leonard Woolley, who was disappointed in not finding a Bronze Age port and soon moved his interests to the earlier, more urbane site of Alalakhmarker. 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 el-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 BCE; 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 settlement at Al Mina to the late fourth century, perhaps damage enduring during the construction of the port of Seleuceia Pieria just to the north. Fox suggests instead this same voyage of coastal destruction undertaken by Ptolemy in 312.



  • ——— (1990). "Al Mina and history" Oxford Journal of Archaeology 9 pp 169–90.
  • Braun, T.F.R.G. (1982). "The Greeks in the Near East" in Cambridge Ancient History III.3 (Cambridge University Press).
  • Coldstream, J.N. (1982). "Greeks and Phoenicians in the Aegean" and P.J. Riis "Griechen in Phönizien" in H.G. Niemeyer, Phönizier im Westen. Mainz, pp 261–72 and 237-55. ISBN 3-8053-0486-2
  • Fox, Robin Lane (2008) Travelling Heroes in the Epic Age of Homer ((New York:Knopf) In the UK Travelling Heroes: Greeks and Their Myths in the Epic Age of Homer(London: Allen Lane, Penguin Books), 2008.
  • Lehmann, G. (2005). “Al Mina and the East: A Report on Research in Progress,” in Alexandra Villing (ed.), The Greeks in the East. London: British Museum Research Publication vol. 157, pp. 61–92. ISBN 0-86159-157-7
  • ——— (1953). A Forgotten Kingdom (Harmondsworth: Penguin).

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