Aspendos city is supposed to be founded by the Argos immigrants and the king Mopsos who led them. In an inscription dating back to 8. century B.C. and having statements in two languages, which was found during the excavations at Karatepe site in Eastern Kilikia, the names of Mopsos and the city were mentioned as “Muksus” and “Asitawa(n)da”, respectively. The name of the city appears as “Estwediyas” on old Aspendos coins (4. century B.C.) As a result, it is understood that the first immigrants came to Pamphylia and Aspendos, after the Troia wars.
The city was taken under the sovereignty of the Persian, who took over the whole Anatolia from 547 B.C.. It was included in the authority zone of the “Yauna” (lonia) satrap center, whose capital was “Sardes”. Aspendos was one of the Pamphylia cities who supported the campaign of Xerkes to Greece by providing 30 ships. Commanding the navy of Athens, “Kimon” defeated the Persian fleet both on the land and at the sea in the entrance of the Aspendos canal in 468 B.C. Following this war, Aspendos joined the “Athens sea union” for a certain period of time. However, this alliance would not last long.
We observe that the mouth of the river Eurymedon was the base of the Persian navy during the Athens-Sparta battles (431-404 B.C.). Later (389 B.C.), the commander “Thrasyboulos” and his soldiers, who came to collect money for Athens, were killed when they burned the crops belonging to Aspendos. When Alexander the Great arrived in Pamphylia in 334 B.C., the ambassadors of the city told him that they would surrender the city with the condition that he would admit no Macedonian soldiers into the city.
Alexander accepted this condition, but he would receive some tax in return. When he was preparing to attack Sillyon, who was planning to resist him, Alexander received the information that the populace of Aspendos broke the treaty by finding the tax applied to them too high, and that they started to prepare for defending the city. He abandoned the idea of attacking to Sillyon and returned to Aspendos with all his forces. He immediately seized the lower part of the city and besieged acropolis. The populace Aspendos panicked and they promised to obey the treaty conditions. However, this time the opportunity was in hands…
He demanded high taxes in addition to the first treaty and the populace of Aspendos had to accept these conditions…
The city changed hands between the Hellenistic kingdoms founded after Alexander, during the fights between these kingdoms. The city, who preserved its independence also against Pergamon kingdom as per the agreement they made with Roman commander Manlius, continued its life in wealth during the years of “Pax Romana” (Roman peace). The productivity of its lands and the commercial profits obtained due to its being one of the harbours where the Central Anatolia opened to Mediterranean provided for the development of the city. The city reached its most brilliant period in 3. century A.D.
Although the attacks of Skyth in 4. century A.D. and of Arabs in 7. century A.D. overshadowed its liveliness, the city continued its life. The Turks seized the city towards the end of the 12. century A.D. Seljuk sultan Alaeddin Keykubat I. restored the ancient theater, decorated it with the tiles and started to use here as the palace he lived in winter.