A city on the Chalkidean Isthmus of Akte between the Singitic and
Strymonic Gulfs at the modern village of lerissos. According to Thucydides (4.84)
it was founded as a colony of Andros. Akanthos is well known for its coins, which
had a wide circulation. Its primary source of income was probably agriculture.
Historically, Akanthos appears first in connection with the Persian Wars when it supported first Mardonios (Hdt. 6.44) and then Xerxes (Hdt. 7.22; 115ff; 121). It was particularly important in aiding the latter dig his canal across the Isthmus of Akte (Hdt. 7.22, 115; Thuc. 4.109). The line of this canal can be traced today starting at the village of Nea Rhoda, which is approximately 2 km SE of lerissos. In the Athenian Tribute Lists Akanthos regularly paid 3 talents after 446-445; 5 talents were paid in the only preserved list of the first two tribute periods in 450-449 (ATL III 239ff, 267ff). Originally siding with Athens in the Peloponnesian War, Akanthos went over to Brasidas in 424 on the urging of the oligarchic faction (Thuc. 4.84ff). The fact that its troops are named in addition to the Chalkideans in Brasidas' army indicates that Akanthos did not join the Chalkidean League. With the Peace of Nikias the city was granted autonomy but was forced to resume paying tribute to Athens (Thuc. 5.18.5). Although Akanthos was taken over by the Macedonians in the 4th c. it was apparently not destroyed by them. It was then joined on the Isthmus by the new city of Uranopolis, founded by Alexarchos. The Romans pillaged Akanthos in 200 A.D. (Livy 3145.15ff), but its harbor was still important in 167 (Livy 45.30.4). Evidence of continued existence in Imperial times is provided by the Roman inscriptions found on the acropolis.
Silver coins were first minted in Akanthos around 530 in large quantities on the Euboic standard. Around 424 there was a change over to the Phoenician standard. The Akanthos mint had ceased operation by, at the latest, the middle of the 4th c.
No systematic excavations have been undertaken as yet at Akanthos. The most significant remains preserved today are the impressive walls on the acropolis standing for some distance nearly 8 m in height. Ancient architectural blocks such as capitals, columns, and geison blocks are reused in a ruinous Byzantine church and others are lying in the vicinity of the acropolis. Remains of an ancient mole in the harbor are reported by Leake and Struck. A Roman sarcophagus, a Roman inscription, and a Roman inscribed column drum have been found at the site.
S. G. Miller, ed.
This text is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites, Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Oct 2002 from Perseus Project URL below, which contains 1 image(s), bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.
A titular see of Macedonia, on the Strymonic Gulf, now known as Erisso. Its inhabitants were praised by Xerxes for their zeal in his cause. There were still extant earlier in the nineteenth century the ruins of a large curving mole built far into the sea.
This text is cited June 2003 from The Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent online edition URL below.
Akanthos: Eth. Akanthios: Erissο. Α town on the E. side of the isthmus, which connects the peninsula of Acte with Chalcidice, and about 1 1/2 mile above the canal of Xerxes. (Athos) It was founded by a colony from Andros, and became a place of considerable importance. Xerxes stopped here on his march into Greece (B.C. 480) and praised the inhabitants for the zeal which they displayed in his service. Acanthus surrendered to Brasidas B.C. 424, and its independence was shortly afterwards guaranteed in the treaty of peace made between Athens and Sparta. The Acanthians maintained their independence against the Olynthians, but eventually became subject to the kings of Macedonia. In the war between the Romans and Philip (B.C. 200) Acanthus was taken and plundered by the fleet of the republic. Strabo and Ptolemy erroneously place Acanthus on the Singitic gulf, but there can be no doubt that the town was on the Strymonic gulf, as is stated by Herodotus and other authorities: the error may have perhaps arisen from the territory of Acanthus having stretched as far as the Singitic gulf. At Erisso, the site of Acanthus, there are the ruins of a large ancient mole, advancing in a curve into the sea, and also, on the N. side of the hill upon which the village stands, some remains of an ancient wall, constructed of square blocks of grey granite. On the coin of Acanthus figured below is a lion killing a bull, which confirms the account of Herodotus (vii. 125), that on the march of Xerxes from Acanthus to Therme, lions seized the camels which carried the provisions.
This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited May 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
Ancient Acanthus is located on the north-east side of Akti, on the
most eastern peninsula of Halkidiki, and on the spot of present Ierissos.
Thoukididis reported Acanthus, while Ploutarhos refered to it as a mixed colony
of Andrians and Halkideans, which was founded on the "Coast of Drakontos", in
the place of a preexisting civilization. According to Efsevio and archaeological
data its possible time of foundation is 655 B.C. Its economic resources emanated
from the mining and the forestal wealth but also through agricultural and vegetable
products that were transported through the appreciable harbour.
The precocious history is not known. Its growth during the Archaic period is reflected by the big circulation of its currency, which began around 530 B.C. with the distinctive emblem of the bull killing lion. At least 92 different types of coins have been found. The first historical reference, even from the middle of the 6th cent B.C. connect the city with the Persian wars. As a free city, Acanthus initially was a member of the Athenian Alliance but later joined the Spartians. In the beginning of the 4th cent B.C., during a period of big acne, it was opposed of joining the Halkidiki Alliance. So in 348 B.C. it was conquered by the Macedonians however without being destroyed. Later it was incorporated to the region of Ouranoupolis, a new city that was founded in the isthmus, between the Strimonic and the Siggitiko gulfs by Alexarhos, brother of Kassandros. According to Livios in 200 B.C., Acanthus was beseiged by the Romans, who, as it appears, exploited all the natural sources of wealth and its harbour. Life of Acanthus continued during the Byzantine period up to the newer years.
The ancient city is extended along a graphic hillside, 600 metres roughly south-east from the settlement of Ierissos, where relics of walls, an impressive department of citadel, scattered architectural pieces and building remnants of Hellenistic years still remain. In the same archaeological place there is a deserted Byzantine and two post Byzantine churches still remaing. Acanthus has not been unearthed yet contrary to the necropolis (graveyard), in which research began in 1973. Particularly extensive is the sight of the cemetery which possesses the seaside of Ierissos and up to today more from 600 graves have been discovered.
The graveyard seems to have been used for a big period, starting from the Archaic season up to the Roman years, and later, perhaps with certain intervals in between each period of time,and up to the 17th Cent. B.C. The graves are extended in two or three at least layers, or in small depths in the layer of the earth, or in deeper in the sand. The provision of the graves is usually parallel in the line of the seashore. The orientation of the dead is, in most cases, southeast (skulls of the dead - and the tops of jugs). In Acanthus both adults and children were buried in the same area according to ancient burial customs.Various types of graves have been discovered some are simple dirt holes,while others have been coated with clay or undecorated clay urns, sometimes however with a painting decoration, box shaped graves, clay covered and also some smaller containers, some jug-shaped which most probabaly constituted the bigger percentage of infant or childr's burials.
The belongings, that were usually placed in the graves next to or above the dead, are many in variety and some of them were found in earthen containers. Many times the possesions that accompanied the dead were personal or related with their professions and their personal occupations, such as jewels, pins, buckles, mirrors, weopons, needles, hooks, bill-hooks, and knives. Arms are seldom revealed. Very often in feminine and in the children's particularly graves, clay figurines which represent various feminine and male forms, actors, animals and also solid food have been found. The discoveries also present a variety in origin. Some of them trace over to other commercial centres and various workshops of the ancient world which prove the growth of local production. Burial customs, and similar types of graves which have been discovered, resemble a lot of other cemeteries in other ancient cities of Macedonia and Thrace. This reveals the connection through commercial transactions so much with the Greek-speaking East but also with other well-known centres of the island area and especially Evia, Athens, Corinthos and Viotia.
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