Periods: Classical, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine
Type: Fortified city
Summary: A major city, deriving its wealth from the gold mines of Mt. Pangaion.
Amphipolis is W of Kavalla, ca. 4 km N of the coast on the bank of the Strymon river. It was built on a commanding plateau 154 m above the river which curves around below the W half of the city walls. The fortification walls extend in a circuit of ca. 7 km and there is an inner acropolis wall of ca. 2 km. Excavations have uncovered domestic buildings of the Hellenistic and Roman periods, a Roman stoa and a number of Byzantine basilicas, but the agora, temples, and other structures of the Classical period remain to be discovered. Outside the walls 2 sanctuaries and a large number graves have been discovered.
In 437 B.C. Agnon defeated the local Edonians and established Amphipolis as an Athenian colony. The mixed population surrendered easily to Sparta in 424 B.C., but Athens retained control of its port city of Eion. Despite repeated efforts by the Athenians, Amphipolis remained autonomous until 357 B.C. when it was conquered by Philip II. During Alexander's campaign to Asia in 334 B.C., the city used as a naval base and Alexander's 3 most celebrated admirals were natives of Amphipolis. In the Hellenistic period it was the location of one of the royal mints. Rome conquered the city in 168 B.C. Prosperity continued through the Roman period and the international Via Egnatia passed through the city. During the Byzantine period the city was called Popolia and a large number of rich churches were constructed. The city was probably destroyed in the 9th century A.D. Slavic invasions.
Excavations since 1956 by the Greek Archaeological Service
Donald R. Keller, ed.
This text is cited Oct 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains 85 image(s), bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.
The ancient walls of the city create a surrounding wall of approximately 7.450 metres long, which surrounds the city from every side. A smaller surrounding wall of approximately 2.200 metres in length used to be in the Acropolis. Impressive parts of the wall were found, belonging to the classic and hellenistic period. The most important part of the wall is the one that is situated in the Railway station, close to Strymon river, with fortified gates, large pipe complexes for the rain water sewage and impressive staircases. An also important part is the one situated in the area of the ancient bridge.
The ancient bridge, which was made of wood, is a unique finding. Between the fortified gate and Strymon's bank hundreds of piles were found. Under those piles, in a deeper layer, there were found about 100 piles which were supporting the bridge of the classic period. This bridge must be the same as the one Thucydides mentioned that the Spartian General Vrasidas occupied in 424 B.C
The Gymnasium is the most important public building in Amfipolis. It is situated in the S.E. part of the ancient city, between the exterior and interior surrounding walls and it is dated back to the 4th century B.C. up to the 1st century A.C. The arena occupies a central position. In the same position there are the indoor baths with water providing systems made of lead and clay pipes and a large sewerage pipe. The staircase that leads to the Gymnasium is very impressive, too. Also, another impressive thing is the stoic building used for training during bad weather. In front of this building there is an open-air area used for training when the weather was good. There has also been discovered a place of worship to Hermes and Hercules, protectors of the Gymnasiums, an altar for sacrifices and outdoor baths.
The Lion of Amfipolis, which is one of the most important monuments, not only of Amphipolis but also Macedonias' , is next to the west bank of Strymon, close to the bridge. It was restored on a pedestal in the position where it was discovered, after the completion of the excavation. It is an imposing marble lion in a position of a sited wildcat with its paws up. lt is erected just outside N. Kerdylia, on the national motorway between Thessaloniki and Kavala. According to some archeologists, the devastation of the monument took place at the end of the 4th century B.C. It is possible that the monument was destroyed by the Roman conquerors, who in order to take it to Rome, they broke it into pieces. However, the most probable version, seems to be the one that the Lion was destroyed by the Bulgarians in 1204 A.C. , who having Ioannitsis as a leader, pillaged all the Macedonian towns.
Many different opinions have been expressed for the purpose or the cause of the monument' s construction. The most prevalent one was expressed by the Professor of Archeology, Oscar Brodear who believed that the Lion was erected in honor of Laomedon, son of Larihos and trusty friend of Alexander the Great. Roger claimed that the monument was erected in honor of Nearchos, Admiral of Alexander the Great. Finally, according to another version, the Lion of Amfipolis was erected as symbolic monument, in order to reflect the tower's power, as it happened with the Lions of Delos.
The Hellenistic house, which is situated between the Gymnasium and the Roman mansion, is dated to the 2nd century B.C. Two large rooms and a yard with a peristyle were discovered there.
The Roman mansion is in the S.W. side of the Palaeochristian Royals and the most important thing that preserves, apart from a luxurious sample of a private house during the Roman period, is the mosaic floors with mythological depictions of Amymoni, Yla, Europe etc.
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