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It is believed that the name of Priene is not Greek but is related to pre-Greek names of Cretan origin, such as Praisos and Priansos. In recent years, the theory gains weight that Priene was one of the cities of the Kingdom of Ahhiyava, which is believed to have been founded in the Miletus region, and that its name also derives from that origin. Therefore, our knowledge of the initial foundation of the city, whose existence goes back to the 2nd millennium BC, rests on hypotheses. The fact that the location of the pre - 4th century BC Priene has not yet been able to be determined up to the present day, plays an important role in this.

According to the information gathered from ancient sources, Pausanias has written that Priene was founded by Aipythos, son of Neleus of Athens, and by Philotas of Thevai, and that the native population was Carian, whereas Strabo gave the information that the city was founded by Philatos and that it was then called Kadme.

It is also believed that Priene was founded (like Pitane, Myrina, Kyme and Ephesus) by Amazon queens.

Archaeologists on the other hand, basing their claim upon the results of certain research, say that the first city was actually located at its present site, but because of the rising level of the land, o due to its filling up with alluvial deposits, it had remained inland and that during this period the outlet of the city was provided by the port of Naulochos.

One other hypothesis is that the city was situated not in the Maeander valley, but in the northern part of the mountains of Samsun (Mycale). Furthermore, it is dentified with the much destroyed city of Melie situated within the ruins of the fortress visible here. In this case, the city would have outlets via two ports, one in the north, and the other in the south (Naulochos).

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Musuem didyma Miletus