Smyrna was a Greek city located at a strategic point on the Aegean coast of Anatolia.
Due to its advantageous port conditions, its ease of defense and its
good inland connections, Smyrna rose to prominence. The modern name of
the city is Izmir.
Two sites of the ancient city are today within Izmir's
boundaries. The first site, probably founded by indigenous peoples, rose
to prominence during the Archaic Period as one of the principal ancient Greek settlements in western Anatolia. The second, whose foundation is associated with Alexander the Great, reached metropolitan proportions during the period of the Roman Empire.
Most of the present-day remains of the ancient city date from the Roman
era, the majority from after a 2nd-century AD earthquake. In practical
terms, a distinction is often made between these. Old Smyrna was the initial settlement founded around the 11th century BC, first as an Aeolian settlement, and later taken over and developed during the Archaic Period by the Ionians. Smyrna proper was the new city which residents moved to as of the 4th century BC and whose foundation was inspired by Alexander the Great.
Old Smyrna was located on a small peninsula connected to the
mainland by a narrow isthmus at the northeastern corner of the inner Gulf of İzmir, at the edge of a fertile plain and at the foot of Mount Yamanlar. This Anatolian settlement commanded the gulf. Today, the archeological site, named Bayraklı Höyüğü, is approximately 700 metres (770 yd) inland, in the Tepekule neighbourhood of Bayraklı. New Smyrna developed simultaneously on the slopes of the Mount Pagos (Kadifekale today) and alongside the coastal strait, immediately below where a small bay existed until the 18th century.
The core of the late Hellenistic and early Roman
Smyrna is preserved in the large area of İzmir Agora Open Air Museum at
this site. Research is being pursued at the sites of both the old and
the new cities. This has been conducted since 1997 for Old Smyrna and
since 2002 for the Classical Period city, in collaboration between the İzmir Archaeology Museum and the Metropolitan Municipality of İzmir.