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Institut Français d'Études Anatoliennes Georges Dumézil

[FLEUVES] Hadrianopolis, the City at the Intersection of the Rivers

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[FLEUVES] Hadrianopolis, the City at the Intersection of the Rivers

Anatolian Rivers between East and West

Axes and Frontiers
Geographical, economical and cultural aspects of the human-environment interactions between the Hebros and Tigris Rivers in ancient times

The Cultural Aspects of Rivers
28th September-1st October 2017
Istanbul (French Institute of Anatolian Studies)
Enez (Enez Excavations Directorate)

On the Edge of Europe: from Hebros to Meriç

Şahin YILDRIM (Bartın University,
Hadrianopolis, the City at the Intersection of the Rivers

According to the ancient resources, the Odrysians were one of the Thracian tribes who
came into the region they occupied in historical times through the migrations of the first millenium B.C. The first settlement they founded here was called Uscumada, Ordysia or Oreistias. This first settlement was located on the fertile lands where the rivers of Hebros, Arpessos and Tonzos intersect. This city, at the crossroad of the significant passages reaching out from Europe to Anatolia, fell under the influence of the Hellenic culture. During the Roman Empire, it developed a potent city identity; its significant monumental structures were depicted on the coins. The city grew in importance with the visit of Hadrian and it was renamed “Hadrianapolis” in honor of the Roman emperor.
The Hebros River had a very important role in Hadrianopolis’ life. The river is the second longest river in Balkan Peninsula, after the Danube River and it is the longest river in Thrace. Also, it is the widest river in the Northern Aegean. The Hebros River had been open to navigation until the 18th century: this is why, by following its course, it was easy to reach out the Black Sea through the Balkans. Herodotus (VII, 58-59) states that a large part of the Hebros River was suitable for navigation and transportation of goods. Especially between Hadrianopolis and Ainos, the Hebros was an accessible waterline, because of the merging three rivers near Hadrianopolis. Ainos was situated near the mouth of the city, on the coast of the
Aegean. This location of the city enabled it to maintain its strategic importance throughout the Medieval Age. Its location was very suitable for transportation and delivery of goods to the inner regions. In fact, river transportation is the cheapest and the most efficient way of carrying goods in the ancient times (Casson 2002: 144). The river god is depicted with a ship on the coins of Hadrianoupolis, dating back to the emperors Antoninus Pius, Septimus Severus and his wife Julia Domna, as well as Commodus.
Throughout the history, the Hebros River provided the necessary path for export and import of goods through the Balkans and Thrace. However, within time, its mouth on the Aegean was blocked by the alluvial deposits and its harbors became unusable.



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