Information about the place AMFIPOLIS (Ancient city) SERRES - GTP - Greek Travel Pages

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The plague in the 6th century A.D. and the subsequent movements of the Slav populations led to a steady shrinking of the ancient Ampipolis, and this in the end brought about its demise as an urban centre. After the 9th century A.D. interest in the urban settlement shifts to the mouth of the Strymon river, where an extensive harbour town sprang up, known as Chrysoupolis, which continued into the 16th century.


In the ruins of Amphipolis on the north-west fringes of the hills beside the Strymon a small settlement developed, Marmarion, which served as a stop-over for travellers crossing the river by the ford that was known as the Marmarion Ford. Life at Chrysoupolis and Marmarion continued into the post-Byzantine and Ottoman periods.

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites


  City in the Edonian region, on the E bank of the river Strymon, about 4 km N of its estuary. The city was built on a level plateau dominating the surrounding country, on the SW slope of the Pangaium range and at the point where the Strymon makes a 180° curve before flowing into the Aegean. In 497 B.C. Histiaeus, the tyrant of Miletos, and his son-in-law Aristagoras attempted to colonize the site, but they were driven back by the Edonians (Hdt. 523124ff; 7114ff). A new attempt by the Athenians to colonize the area in 465 B.C. ended in failure (Hdt. 9.75, Thuc. 1.100, 4.102). In 437 B.C. Agnon, son of Nicias, succeeded in founding Amphipolis on the site of the Nine Roads, as the area was formerly called, using as a base the old Persian fortress at the mouth of the river Eion, which became a trading port of the Athenians in 476 B.C., after its conquest by Kimon (Thuc. 4.102). The Spartan general Brasidas, marching from Chalkidike in 424 B.C., easily conquered the city because of its mixed population and treason on the part of its Argilian colonists. The intervention of Thucydides, "general over Thrace", with seven triremes, resulted in the rescue of only the Eion. The expedition of the Athenian demagogue Kleon with strong forces in 422 B.C. did not succeed in breaking off Amphipolis from the Lakedemonians. In the battle that ensued in front of the walls, the generals Brasidas and Kleon were killed. Brasidas was buried within the city walls and honored as a hero and founder with annual games and sacrifices (Thuc. 5.6-11).
   In spite of repeated efforts by the Athenians, Amphipolis remained autonomous until 357 B.C., when it was conquered by King Philip II of Macedon. During Alexander the Great's campaign to Asia in 334 B.C., the city was used as a naval base, and his fleet gathered in the waters of the Strymon from its estuary to Lake Cercinitis (Arr. Anab. 1, 2.3). Alexander the Great's three most celebrated admirals, Nearchos, Androsthenes, and Laomedon, were natives of Amphipolis. During the Hellenistic period it was a Macedonian city, a fortress, and one of the royal mints where Philip II's famous gold staters were coined.
   After the battle of Pydna (168 B.C.) Emilius Paulus conquered the city. A council constituted of Romans and 10 select representatives of Hellenic cities met there to decide on the fate of areas of the Macedonian kingdom. Macedonia was divided into four districts, the merides, and Amphipolis was declared capital of the first district (Plin. HN 4.38). Coins minted here in the period 168-146 B.C. carry the inscription MAKEDONON PROTES. The city's prosperity lasted through Roman times, and the great Roman Via Egnatia passes through Amphipolis. It is not known when the city was deserted, but it is probable that it was destroyed during the Slavic incursions of the early 9th c. During Byzantine times the area was known as Popolia.
   During the Balkan wars of 1912-13 fragments of a large statue were uncovered on the W bank of the Strymon near the present-day bridge. Excavation of the site revealed foundations of a structure which carried a pyramid-shaped base for a lion. The statue was reconstructed and reerected in 1936 on a contemporary base built with ancient architectural material. The lion of Amphipolis belongs to a large funeral monument, influenced by the architecture of the Ionian tumuli, very probably that of Alexander the Great's admiral, Laomedon. It is dated from the last quarter of the 4th c. B.C.
   A large necropolis of Hellenistic times was excavated systematically in the N of the city, as well as graves outside it, located singly and in groups. A total of about 440 graves of various types (pit-shaped, tile-roofed, box-shaped, sculptured underground) have been studied. Three "Macedonian" graves built with stone-plinths of limestone and with arched roofs, found N and E of the city, consist of an entrance, a death chamber, and often an antechamber. There are built-in beds for the deceased. The beds of Macedonian grave I, which dates from the second half of the 3d c. B.C., are decoratively painted with dionysiac forms, animals, utensils, etc. Another box-shaped grave of Hellenistic times is decorated with water birds flying among flower garlands.
   The graves yielded terracotta figurines, pots, tombstones, and gold jewelry fashioned into wreaths of oak or olive leaves, diadems, earrings, rings, necklaces, and charms. The gravestones cover the period from the end of the 5th c. B.C. to Roman Imperial times. They picture isolated forms: older men, suppers for the dead, scenes of the reception of the dead, or scenes of everyday life.
   Trial excavations have uncovered parts of habitations of the 4th c. of the Hellenistic and Roman periods. In a house of the Roman period a mosaic floor depicts the Rape of Europa. On the edge of a deep ravine in the hill of the present-day village, walls of a structure, in strict isodomic style, remain. A dedicatory inscription identifies the building as the Temple of Clio. Of the fortifications known from Thucydides' account (4.102, 103; 5.10), a large section of the wall was found in the part of the city farthest W. On the crest of a line of hills in the SE of the city, stone plinths of a long wall directed toward the river are preserved, as are small sections of wall in the E and N section.
   On the site of "Bezesteni" in the center of the city, the stylobate of a large stoa of the Roman or Early Christian period was excavated for a length of 53.50 m. Its marble columns (five Ionic and one Doric) come from more ancient buildings. In the same region four Early Christian basilicas were uncovered. Two of these, which were excavated in large part, have very beautiful multicolored mosaic decorations. Mosaic floors depict rich geometric motifs, fountains, pots, and plants as well as a large number of fish and various birds and animals, both wild and tame. Neither the agora nor any of the large temples of the city known from ancient sources have been uncovered.

D. Lazarides, 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 85 image(s), bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.

Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)


  Eth. Amphipolites, Amphipolites: Adj. Amphipolitanus (Just. xiv. sub fin.). A town in Macedonia, situated upon an eminence on the left or eastern bank of the Strymon, just below its egress from the lake Cercinitis, at the distance of 25 stadia, or about three miles from the sea. (Thuc. iv. 102.) The Strymon flowed almost round the town, whence its name Amphi-polis. Its position is one of the most important in this part of Greece. It stands in a pass, which traverses the mountains bordering the Strymonic gulf; and it commands the only easy communication from the coast of that gulf into the great Macedonian plains. In its vicinity were the gold and silver mines: of Mount Pangaeus, and large forests of ship-timber. It was originally called Ennea Hodoi, or Nine-Ways (Ennea hodol), from the many roads which met at this place; and it belonged to the Edonians, a Thracian people. Aristagoras of Miletus first attempted to colonize it, but was cut off with his followers by the Edonians, B.C. 497. (Thuc. l. c.; Herod. v. 126.) The next attempt was made by the Athenians, with a body of 10,000 colonists, consisting of Athenian citizens and allies; but they met with the same fate as Aristagoras, and were all destroyed by the Thracians at Drabescus, B.C. 465. (Thuc. i. 100, iv. 102; Herod. ix. 75.) So valuable, however, was the site, that the Athenians sent out another colony in B.C. 437 under Agnon, the son of Nicias, who drove the Thracians out of Nine-Ways, and founded the city, to which he gave the name of Amphipolis. On three sides the city was defended by the Strymon; on the other side Agnon built a wall across, extending from one part of the river to the other. South of the town was a bridge, which formed the great means of communication between Macedonia and Thrace. The following plan will illustrate the preceding account. (Thuc. iv. 102.)
  Amphipolis soon became an important city, and was regarded by the Athenians as the jewel of their empire. In B.C. 424 it surrendered to the Lacedaemonian general Brasidas, without offering any resistance. The historian Thucydides, who commanded the Athenian fleet off the coast, arrived in time from the island of Thasos to save Eion, the port of Amphipolis, at the mouth of the Strymon, but too late to prevent Amphipolis itself from falling into the hands of Brasidas. (Thuc. iv. 103-107.) The loss of Amphipolis caused both indignation and alarm at Athens, and led to the banishment of Thucydides. In B.C. 422 the Athenians sent a large force, under the command of Cleon, to attempt the recovery of the city. This expedition completely failed; the Athenians were defeated with considerable loss, but Brasidas as well as Cleon fell in the battle. The operations of the two commanders are detailed at length by Thucydides, and his account is illustrated by the masterly narrative of Grote. (Thuc. v. 6-11; Grote, Hist. of Greece, vol. vi. p. 634, seq.)
  From this time Amphipolis continued independent of Athens. According to the treaty made between the Athenians and Lacedaemonians in B.C. 421, it was to have been restored to Athens; but its inhabitants refused to surrender to their former masters, and the Lacedaemonians were unable to compel them to do so, even if they had been so inclined. Amphipolis afterwards became closely allied with Olynthus, and with the assistance of the latter was able to defeat the attempts of the Athenians under Timotheus to reduce the place in B.C. 360. Philip, upon his accession (359) declared Amphipolis a free city; but in the following year (358) he took the place by assault, and annexed it permanently to his dominions. It continued to belong to the Mace donians, till the conquest of their country by the Romans in B.C. 168. The Romans made it a free city, and the capital of the first of the four districts, into which they divided Macedonia. (Dem. in Aristocr. p. 669; Diod. xvi. 3. 8; Liv. xlv. 29; Plin. iv. 10.)
  The deity chiefly worshipped at Amphipolis appears to have been Artemis Tauropolos or Brauronia (Diod. xviii. 4; Liv. xliv. 44), whose head frequently appears on the coins of the city, and the ruins of whose temple in the first century of the Christian era are mentioned in an epigram of Antipater of Thessalonica. (Anth. Pal. vol. i. no. 705.) The most celebrated of the natives of Amphipolis was the grammarian Zoilus.
  Amphipolis was situated on the Via Egnatia. It has been usually stated, on the authority of an anonymous Greek geographer, that it was called Chrysopolis under the Byzantine empire; but Tafel has clearly shown, in the works cited below, that this is a mistake, and that Chrysopolis and Amphipolis were two different places. Tafel has also pointed out that in the middle ages Amphipolis was called Popolia. Its site is now occupied by a village called Neokhorio, in Turkish Jeni-Keui, or New-Town. There are still a few remains of the ancient town; and both Leake and Cousinery found among them a curious Greek inscription, written in the Ionic dialect, containing a sentence of banishment against two of their citizens, Philo and Stratocles. The latter is the name of one of the two envoys sent from Amphipolis to Athens to request the assistance of the latter against Philip, and he is therefore probably the same person as the Stratocles mentioned in the inscription.

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

Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities


   A town in Macedonia, on the eastern bank of the Strymon, about three miles from the sea. The Strymon flowed almost round the town, nearly forming a circle, whence its name Amphi-polis. It was originally called Ennea Hodoi, the "Nine Ways," and belonged to the Edonians, a Thracian people. It was colonized by the Athenians in B.C. 437, who drove the Edonians out of the place. It was one of the most important of the Athenian possessions in the north of the Aegaean Sea. Hence their indignation when it fell into the hands of Brasidas (B.C. 424), and of Philip (B.C. 358). The port of Amphipolis was Eion.

This text is cited Sep 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Ennea Hodoi

   A spot in Thrace, near which the city of Amphipolis was founded. It appears to have derived its name, which means "the Nine Ways," from the number of roads which met here from different parts of Thrace and Macedon. It was here, according to Herodotus, that Xerxes and his army crossed the Strymon on bridges, after having offered a sacrifice of white horses to that river and buried alive nine youths and nine maidens.

This text is cited Sep 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Perseus Project


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