The area of Athytos has been uninterruptedly settled for at least
5000 years. Around the middle of the 8th century B.C. settlers from Euboea
arrived. Aphytis, one of the most significant cities in Pallini
(the ancient name of Cassandra), is mentioned by the ancient writers Herodotus,
Thucydides, Xenophon, Aristotle, Pausanias, and Strabo among others.
The city became well known for its Temple of Dionysus, which appears to have been built in the second half of the 8th century B.C. In the same area stood the Temple of Ammon Zeus, whose few remaining ruins date to the 4th century B.C. structure.
The Temple of Dionysus, which dates to the Euboean settlement, and the growth of Aphytis are mentioned for the first time by Xenophon in his "Hellenica". In 381 B.C. Agesipolis, king of the Lacedaemonians, besieged Torone. During the siege he suffered serious burns, and asked to be taken to the "shady lodgings and sparkling waters" of the Temple of Dionysus, where, according to Xenophon, Agesipolis died a week later. He was placed in a storage jar full of honey and taken to his homeland for the official burial.
During archaic and classical times Aphytis was a prosperous city, minting its own coins, which depicted the head of its patron, Ammon Zeus, the city's economy appears to have been mainly based on farming and vine-culture. Aristotle mentions the "agricultural law" of the Aphytians, a special, singular and interesting chapter in the history of ancient Greek public finances.
Shipping must have played an important role in the economy of Aphytis if one is to judge by the size of its port, now silted up, which lies in the area of the small pine forest along the beach.
According to Herodotus, during the Persian Wars (5th cent. B.C.) Aphytis was forced to support Xerxes sending soldiers and ships, as did other cities in Chalkidiki. However, it revolted against the Persians after the Battle of Plataea (479 B.C.) and joined the Athenian Confederacy. As a member of the Confederacy, Aphytis paid three talents annually to the Temple of Delos, a substantial sum for that time.
An Athenian "resolution" found in Athytos gives a picture of the relations between Aphytis and Athens. This resolution, dated 423 B.C. gave directions concerning the minting of cons and currency relations in general.
As a result of joining the Athenian Confederacy, Aphytis was besieged during the Peloponnesian War by the Lacedaemonian general Lysander. According to Pausanias, the patron of Aphytis, Ammon Zeus, appeared in a dream to Lysander and urged him to raise the siege, which he did.
It is likely that Aphytis was destroyed by Philip of Macedon in 348 B.C., as were the rest of the cities in Chalkidiki. However, the construction of the Temple of Ammon Zeus during the second half of the 4th cent. B.C. implies that the city was prosperous. It has also been suggested that the Macedonian kings contributed to the construction of the temple. During Hellenistic and Roman times the city minted coins again; an event possibly related to the fame of the Temple of Ammon Zeus. Strabo mentions Aphytis among the five cities, which existed in Pallini in the first century B.C. (Cassandrea, Aphytis, Mendi, Scioni and Sani).
(text: Gerakina N. Mylona)
This text (extract) is cited November 2003 from the Community of Athytos tourist pamphlet (1994).
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