Amorium

Amorium was a city in Phrygia, Asia Minor which was founded in the Hellenistic period, flourished under the Byzantine Empire, and declined after the Arab attack of 838. Its ruins are located near the village of Hisarköy, Turkey.

Amorium is the Latinized pronunciation of its name and this name seems to have hold on in a generally more prominent scope, as compared to the Ancient Greek and Byzantine Amorion, despite the city's having been important primarily in the context of Byzantine history. Arab/Islamic sources refer to the city as Ammuriye. Although an attractive idea, the name does not derive from the Latin root word of "amor" 'love', but is generally linked to the Proto-Indo-European "ma" 'mother', which leads to the conclusion that, at its foundation, the settlement was associated with the Mother Goddess cult, widespread in ancient Anatolia. Today, Amorium's "höyük" ("mound, tumulus") is situated by the modern Turkish village of Hisarköy, under Ottoman rule the site was called Hergen Kaleh.

History

Its site lies at a distance of 13 kilometers from the district center of Emirdağ, in Afyonkarahisar Province. Excavations on the site are currently being pursued by a team from the New York Metropolitan Museum.

That the city had minted its own coins as of some time between 133 BC to 27 BC till the 3rd century AD is evidence of its maturity as a settlement and of its importance during the pre-Byzantine period as well. Amorium then must have been prestigious and prosperous. But early historical records that mention the city are extremely scarce, in fact strictly limited to a reference by Strabo, although it is expected that new discoveries will shed a light to the city's Roman period and before. It was an episcopal see (bishopric) as early as 431.

The Greek fable writer Aesop was born in Amorium; he lived from about 620 to 560 BC.

Amorium held a key importance starting from the 7th century, with its becoming the last stronghold of defense in Central Anatolia before access to the heart of the Byzantine Empire. The city faced a full-fledged attack by the new rising power a few years after 641, the year in which the first forays of Arab raiders into the Anatolian geography had taken place. Successive Arab assaults continued for two centuries after that. In 668, the castle has been captured by the Arabs, to be recovered by the Byzantine Empire short afterwards, and the wide-scale sieges of 716 and 796 could be thwarted.

In the 9th century, the city produced a ruling dynasty on the Byzantine throne, the Phrygian dynasty or Amorian dynasty.

In 838, the city went through the worst destruction in its history by Al-Mu'tasim's armies, never to recover its former importance again. The 838 destruction is also memorable on religious grounds, on account of the 42 notables of Amorium who had been taken as hostages and taken to Samarra (today in Iraq) and who were executed there in 845 (the "42 Martyrs of Amorium").

It is a titular see of the Catholic Church.

Excavations

In 1987 Professor R.M. Harrison of Oxford University conducted a preliminary survey of the site with excavations being started in 1988. From its inception the Amorium Excavations Project has been principally concerned with investigating post-classical, Byzantine Amorium. During 1989 and 1990 an intensive surface survey was conducted of the man-made mound in the upper city. In 2001 Dr. Ali Kayaa made a geophysical survey of the church found in the upper city, although a full excavation has yet to be undertaken. The Project is under the auspices of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Dumbarton Oaks and the British Institute of Archaeology with additional sponsorship from Friends of Amorium and Mostly Glass. [http://www.amoriumexcavations.org accessed 02/08/08.]

ources and external links

(incomplete)
* [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01433b.htm]
* [http://www.amoriumexcavations.org Excavations in Amorium]
* [http://staugustine.com/stories/080301/rel_0803010037.shtml Bishop John explores Turkish Amorion roots] (article from St.Augustine Record)


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