Colophon was an ancient city in Ionia. Founded around the turn of the first millennium BC, it was likely one of the oldest of the twelve cities of the Ionian League. In ancient times it was located between Lebedos (120 stadia to the west) and Ephesus (70 stadia to its south). Today the ruins of the city can be found south of the town Değirmendere Fev in the Menderes district of Izmir Province, Turkey.
The city's name comes from the word κολοφών, "summit", which is also the origin of the bibliographic term "colophon", in the metaphorical sense of a 'crowning touch', as it was sited along a ridgeline. The term colophony for rosin comes from the term colophonia resina, that is, resin from the pine trees of Colophon, which was highly valued for increasing friction of the bow hairs of stringed musical instruments.
According to Apollodorus and Proclus, the mythical seer Calchas died at Colophon after the end of the Trojan War. Strabo names Clarus as the place of his death, which would later be a cult center in the territory of Colophon. An oracle had it that he would die when he would meet a better seer than himself. As Calchas and the other heroes on their way home from Troy came upon the seer Mopsus in Colophon, the two competed in their mantic qualities. Calchas couldn't equal Mopsus' skills as a seer, being a son of Apollo and Manto, so he died.
In Greek antiquity two sons of Codrus, King of Athens, established a colony there. It was the birthplace of the philosopher Xenophanes and the poets Antimachus and Mimnermus.
Colophon was the strongest of the Ionian cities and renowned both for its cavalry and for the inhabitants' luxurious lifestyle, until Gyges of Lydia conquered it in the 7th century BC. Colophon then went into decline and was eclipsed by neighbouring Ephesus and by the rising naval power of Ionia, Miletus.
After the death of Alexander the Great, Perdiccas expelled the Athenian settlers on Samos to Colophon, including the family of Epicurus, who joined them there after completing his military service.
In the 3rd century BC, it was destroyed by Lysimachus—a Macedonian officer, one of the successors (Diadochi) of Alexander the Great, later a king (306 BC) in Thrace and Asia Minor, during the same era when he nearly destroyed (and did depopulate by forced expulsion) the neighboring Ionian League city of Lebedos.
Notium served as the port, and in the neighbourhood was the village of Clarus, with its famous temple and oracle of Apollo Clarius, where Calchas vied with Mopsus in divinatory science.
In Roman times, after Lysimachus' conquest, Colophon failed to recover (unlike Lebedos) and lost its importance; actually, the name was transferred to the site of the port village of Notium, and the latter name disappeared between the Peloponnesian War and the time of Cicero (late 5th century BC to 1st century BC).
Additionally, the city, as a major location on the Ionic mainland, was cited as a possible home or birthplace for Homer. In his True History, Lucian lists it as a possible birthplace along with the island of Khios and the city of Smyrna, though Lucian's Homer claims to be from Babylon.