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Tenedos (Bozcaada)


Besik Bay. Photo Jona Lendering.
Tenedos, seen from Besik Bay
Tenedos (Τéνεδος): island opposite the coast of ancient Troy, modern Bozcaada.

The island of Tenedos (on the horizon; satellite photo) is situated near Troy and controls the southwestern entrance of the Hellespont, from which it is about 20 kilometer away. It must have been more common for ships to wait on the beach of the little island until favorable winds allowed them to enter the Hellespont. That the site was well-suited for anchoring, is presumed in ancient legends, which tell that the Greeks went into hiding at Tenedos after leaving behind the Trojan horse.

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Tenedos (right) beyond Cape Sigeion. Photo Jona Lendering.
Tenedos (right) beyond Cape Sigeion.

The city of Tenedos is on the site of modern Bozcaada and had two harbors; from the sixth century BCE onward, it owned land on the opposite shore as well, which is only five kilometers away. The people spoke an Aeolian dialect resembling that of Lesbos, from which Tenedos was settled. Diodorus of Sicily attributes the foundation of the city to a man named Tenes, who came from Colone (World History, 5.83.5).

It was occupied by the Athenian commander Miltiades at the turn of the sixth/fifth century, conquered by the Persians after the Ionian Revolt, became a member of the Delian League, and was sacked by the Spartans during the Corinthian War (in 389 BCE). During Alexander's war against the Persian Empire, the Persian commander Pharnabazus occupied Tenedos an threatened the Alexander's line of communication; however, Pharnabazus was recalled.

Corinthian pot. Archaeological museum of Çanakkale (Turkey). Photo Jona Lendering.
Corinthian phial. Archaeological museum of Çanakkale (Turkey). Photo Jona Lendering. Attic phial. Archaeological museum of Çanakkale (Turkey). Photo Jona Lendering. Statuette of Cybele. Archaeological museum of Çanakkale (Turkey). Photo Jona Lendering.
Corinthian pot. Archaeological museum, Çanakkale.
Corinthian phial. Archaeological museum, Çanakkale. Attic phial. Archaeological museum, Çanakkale. Statuette of Cybele. Archaeological museum, Çanakkale.
Archaising bust from Tenedos. Arkeoloji Müzesi, Istanbul (Turkey). Photo Jona Lendering.
Archaising bust of Hermes (Arkeoloji Müzesi, Istanbul)

Tenedos lost its independence and was added to Alexandria in Troas (Pausanias, Guide to Greece, 10.14.2), probably by Antigonus Monophthalmus in 306 BCE.

The Roman politician Cicero tells that the city had to pay heavily to the notorious senator Verres (Verrine Orations, 2.1.49).
© Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 2004
Revision: 13 May 2012
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