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Article

Judith McKenzie, Gordon Campbell, R. R. R. Smith, Wiktor A. Daszewski, A. H. Enklaar, Dominic Montserrat, C. Walters, Wladyslaw B. Kubiak, Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

Egyptian city situated on the Mediterranean coast west of the delta of the River Nile, capital of Egypt from c. 320 bc to ad 642, seaport and centre of ancient Greek culture.

Judith McKenzie

Alexandria was founded in 331 bc by Alexander, on the site of the small Egyptian settlement of Rhakotis. Its location, with access by canal to the River Nile, enabled it to become an important and highly prosperous trading centre, and by c. 320 bc Alexandria was the capital of Ptolemaic Egypt. During Ptolemaic times (304–30 bc) it became a major centre of learning, with famous scholars of literature, mathematics, astronomy, medicine and geography, and it played a major role in the transmission of Greek culture to the East.

With the defeat of the last Ptolemaic monarch, Cleopatra VII (51–30 bc), by Octavian (later called Augustus) at the Battle of Actium in 30...

Article

M. Rautmann, Katherine M. D. Dunbabin and Mine Kadiroğlu

[now Antakya]

Greek and Roman city on the River Orontes in south-east Turkey (ancient Syria), which flourished from c. 300 bc to the 7th century ad.

Its advantageous site on the edge of the Amuk Plain at the foot of Mt Silpius, commanding important trade routes linking Anatolia with Palestine and the Mediterranean with inland Syria, attracted the attention of Seleukos I (reg 305–281 bc), who founded the city (c. 300 bc) as the capital of his Syrian empire. With its port at Seleucia and residential suburb at Daphne, Antioch prospered as capital of the Roman province of Syria from 64 bc. The city enjoyed the attentions of Roman benefactors from Julius Caesar onwards and attained the height of its prosperity during the 2nd to the 7th century ad, becoming the diocesan capital of Oriens. Its influence was particularly strong in early Christian affairs: Paul and Barnabas were active at Antioch, while Peter was regarded as its first bishop. ...

Article

Sophie Page

Astrology is the art of predicting events on earth as well as human character and disposition from the movements of the planets and fixed stars. Medieval astrology encompassed both general concepts of celestial influence, and the technical art of making predictions with horoscopes, symbolic maps of the heavens at particular moments and places constructed from astronomical information. The scientific foundations of the art were developed in ancient Greece, largely lost in early medieval Europe and recovered by the Latin West from Arabic sources in the 12th and 13th centuries. Late medieval astrological images were successfully Christianized and were adapted to particular contexts, acquired local meanings and changed over time.

Astrology developed into a scientific branch of learning in ancient Greece, but because of the opposition of the Church Fathers it was transmitted to early medieval Europe in only fragmentary form in technically unsophisticated textbooks and popular divinatory genres. Literary and scientific texts provided more general ideas about the nature and attributes of the planets which were influential on later iconography. The first significant astrological images appear in 11th-century illustrated astronomical texts (e.g. London, BL, Cotton MS. Tiberius BV), which were acquired and produced by monasteries to aid with time-keeping and the construction of the Christian calendar....

Article

Carmela Vircillo Franklin

(b Berlin, Aug 18, 1911; d Cambridge, MA, Sept 6, 2006).

German historian of antiquity and the Middle Ages, active also in Italy and America. Bloch was trained at the University of Berlin under the historian of ancient Greece Werner Jaeger, art historian Gerhart Rodenwaldt and medievalist Erich Caspar from 1930 until 1933, when the rise of National Socialism convinced him to move to Rome. There he received his tesi di laurea in ancient history in 1935 and his diploma di perfezionamento in 1937. He then participated in the excavations at Ostia, Rome’s ancient port, which was an important site in the revival of Italian archaeology under Fascism. At the outbreak of World War II, he immigrated to the USA, and began his teaching career in 1941 at Harvard University’s Department of Classics, where he remained until his retirement in 1982. His experience of totalitarianism shaped both his personal and professional beliefs.

Bloch applied a deep knowledge of epigraphy, history and material culture, art history, literary and archival sources to his research and he had a propensity for uncovering the significance of new or neglected evidence. One such area was Roman history. His first publications, on ancient Rome’s brick stamps (many of which he discovered ...

Article

Butrint  

T. F. C. Blagg

[It. Butrinto; anc. Gr. Bouthroton; Lat. Buthrotum]

Site in southern Albania, set on a hill beside a coastal lagoon connected to the sea by a natural channel. The city flourished in Greek, Roman, and Byzantine times. Excavation and display of its extensive and deserted remains, begun by the Italians in 1928, have been continued by Albanian archaeologists; finds are displayed in the site museum (renovated 1988) and in the National Historical Museum, Tiranë. It was probably a colony of Kerkyra (Corfu), from which its site is visible. Earliest occupation on the hilltop is shown by Corinthian pottery of the 7th–6th centuries bc and a wall of polygonal masonry, rebuilt in the 5th century bc. By the following century the expanding city required new walls, which survive up to 9 m high and include the Lion Gate, named after the Archaic relief reused as its lintel (6th century bc). Butrint became a centre for the surrounding Epirot people, the ...

Article

Yu. P. Kalashnik

[now Khersmes]

Site on the south-west of the Crimean peninsula, near Sevastopol’. Its position on the Black Sea trade routes determined its commercial importance. It was founded by the people of Herakleia Pontica jointly with the Delians c. 422/421 bc and became an important state in the 4th and 3rd centuries bc after assimilating the fertile lands of north-west Crimea. From the 3rd century bc, however, the expansion of the Scythian kingdom led to the contraction of the city’s territory. In the first centuries ad Chersonesos lost its independence, becoming subordinate to the neighbouring kingdom of the Bosporus and the administration of the Roman province of Lower Moesia; a garrison of Roman troops was stationed in the city. In the late 4th century ad Chersonesos became part of the Byzantine empire, and from the late 10th century it played an important part in the spread of Christianity in Kievan Russia. In the 13th century the city was destroyed by enemy attack....

Article

Chios  

Jenny Albani and Margaret Lyttleton

[anc. Pityoussa]

Greek island lying 8 km off the coast of Turkey and 56 km south of Lesbos in the Eastern Sporades. One of the larger Greek islands, it is 48 km long north–south and 13–24 km wide east–west, with a mountain range running the length of the island; it has a population of nearly 100,000. Its most impressive architectural remains belong to the Early Christian, Byzantine and Genoese periods. The principal museums, in Chios city, are the Archaeological Museum, the Adamantios Korais Library and the Ethnological and Folklore Museum.

The earliest evidence of settlement is the Neolithic level uncovered by the British School at Athens during excavations (1952–5) of the harbour town of Emporio. According to tradition the island was colonized by the Ionians in the 11th century bc, and it is claimed to be the birthplace of Homer (c. 800 bc). In the 6th and 5th centuries ...

Article

T. F. C. Blagg

[anc. Gr. Epidamnos, Lat. Dyrrachium; It. Durrazzo; now Durrës, Albania.]

Site on the Adriatic coast, approximately 30 km west of Tiranë, Albania. It was founded as Epidamnos, as a colony of Corinth and Corfu, in 627 bc, and when the name Dyrrhachion first appeared in the 5th century bc it may have referred only to the port, 5 km north of the walled city. In 437 bc a violent uprising led indirectly, through the involvement of Corfu and Athens, to the Peloponnesian War. In the late 3rd century bc the city became part of the Illyrian kingdom of Glaukias. As Dyrrachium, it remained a free city after the Roman conquests of Macedonia and Epiros (167 bc); as the starting-point for the Via Egnatia (ad 148), the Roman road from the Adriatic to Byzantium, it developed as an important trade and communications centre. The cosmopolitan character of its medieval history reflects its continued strategic significance. It remained a Byzantine stronghold from the 4th century ...

Article

Dimitris Plantzos

[Satra]

Greek city situated on the island of Crete, by the north-west foothills of mount Psiloritis (anc. Ida), 30 km south-east of the present-day city of Rethymnon. It was a centre for Aegean and Greek culture from the Prehistoric to the Byzantine periods (4th millennium bc–7th century bc).

Ancient Eleutherna is a typical example of a Cretan polis (city) inhabited continuously from at least from the 9th century bc (the so-called ‘Dark Age’ of Greek history) to the late Roman and Byzantine period (6th–7th century bc). Even before that, archaeological finds suggest the existence of a continuous presence on the site from the late Neolithic (4th millennium bc) through to a flourishing Minoan site of the 3rd to 2nd millennia bc. Although later construction all but eliminated traces of prehistoric architecture, there is still significant evidence to confirm unbroken habitation. In historical times (9th century...

Article

Ephesos  

Thorsten Opper, M. Rautmann, Anton Bammer, Ulrike Muss and Mark Whittow

[Ephesus.]

Site of an important Classical city on the west coast of Turkey, c. 2 km south-west of modern Selçuk. It has been occupied since perhaps as early as the 10th century bc, and its Late Classical Temple of Artemis (Artemision), built on the site of an earlier temple from the Archaic period, was regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

M. Rautmann

According to Greek tradition, Ephesos was founded in the 10th century bc by Ionian settlers near the mouth of the River Cayster. From the mid-6th century bc it was ruled successively by the Lydians, Croesus of Lydia extending the unfortified city inland, and the Persians. It was conquered by Alexander the Great in 334 bc, and throughout antiquity Ephesos was an important trading centre, its prestige enhanced by the construction of the colossal Temple of Artemis (6th century bc, rebuilt 4th century bc) on the plain to the north-east of the city. In the early ...

Article

Geraki  

G. Dimitrokallis and N. Moutsopoulos

Site of ancient Geronthrai in Laconia, Greece, 40 km south-east of Sparta and occupied by a large modern village. The ancient acropolis is surrounded by Cyclopean walls of the Mycenaean period (c. 1300 bc), well-preserved to the north and east. The medieval castle of Geraki, which was built by Jehan de Nivelet in 1254 on the rocky ridge of Parnon 5 km to the south-east, was the headquarters of one of the original twelve Frankish baronies in the Peloponnese. The village, the castle and the surrounding region contain a number of churches of various periods.

In the village there are two 6th-century basilical churches, only one of which has been excavated, and six later churches. Of the latter, the Evangelistria, St Sozon (built above the unexcavated basilica) and St Athanasius are built in the cross-in-square plan and date from the 12th century, while the two-aisled church of St Nicholas dates from the 13th century. St John Chrysostomos, a single-aisled church, and St Theodore, with its barrel-vaulted nave and pointed transverse barrel vault, were founded ...

Article

Gortyn  

Antonino Di Vita and Dimitris Tsougarakis

Site of a city on the northern edge of the Mesara Plain in southern Crete, c. 6 km north-east of Moíres, which flourished c. 700 bcad 670. The westernmost of the hills enclosing it to the north served as its acropolis, where, following Neolithic occupation, there was a Bronze Age settlement after the 13th century bc. The acropolis is separated from the hills to the east by the River Mitropolianos, the course of which also divided the Greco-Roman and Byzantine city into two unequal parts. Excavations were begun by Federico Halbherr in 1884 and were continued by the Italian Archaeological Mission in Crete and from 1912 onwards by the Italian Archaeological School in Athens.

Antonino Di Vita

The most significant late Bronze Age (c. 1580–c. 1100 bc) remains from the area derive from the rural villa of Kannia, to the south-west of modern Mitropolis, which comprised 30 rooms, including at least four small domestic shrines distinguished by benches and by statuettes and ex-votos of the Minoan goddess. The 50 or so large storage pithoi that were found in many of the rooms and that attest to the villa’s connection with agriculture date from Late Minoan (...

Article

Greek, 9th century, male.

Died 867, in Rome.

Painter.

This Greek painter of the Byzantine School suffered persecution under the iconoclastic Emperor Theophilus, who had him flogged for painting religious images. After recovering, the saint continued to paint pictures of the Virgin and Jesus.

Article

Loukou  

Thorsten Opper

Site of a Roman villa (500 m to the north of the monastery of Loukou) in the ancient region of Thyreatis in the eastern Peloponnese. The recent finds are divided between the archaeological museums of the nearby modern town of Astros and the regional centre Tripolis. Although the villa is not mentioned in the ancient literary sources, the discovery of inscriptions and portrait sculptures (Herodes, Polydeukion) shows that the complex belonged to the family of the famous Athenian sophist Herodes Atticus. Individual sculptures from Loukou, some of them removed to the nearby monastery, were first mentioned by travellers in the early 19th century. Excavations carried out since the 1970s have revealed the nucleus of a richly decorated villa built on a grand scale. The structures uncovered so far stretch over three terraces on different levels. The lowest, to the north of the site, is dominated by a three-aisled basilica-style building with two rows of four columns crowned by composite capitals and a semicircular apse with six statue niches at the western end. The building, which was later converted into a Christian church, is flanked by further rooms of unknown use. A flight of stairs leads to the middle terrace further south. This section of the villa is laid out around a large peristyle with a nymphaeum at the western end and single-storey porticos with ornate mosaic floors (muses, mythological scenes, circus races etc) along the other sides. The centre of the peristyle is surrounded by a wide canal on all sides, which was fed by water from the nymphaeum. Behind the nymphaeum to the west is a further large apsidial room with rectangular side wings. To the east of the peristyle, separated by further rooms and small nymphaea, follows a large garden stadium, while near the south-east corner remains of dining rooms and a heroön dedicated to ...

Article

H. A. Kalligas

[anc. Minoa]

Site of a Greek city on the east coast of the Peloponnese, c. 32 km north of Cape Malea, built on a precipitous promontory 1.6 km long and 200 m high, which is joined to the mainland by a strip of land and formerly a bridge (destr. 19th century).

The city was founded around the time of the Slav invasions of the 6th century ad by the inhabitants of Sparta, who emigrated there with their bishop. The privileges and institutions enjoyed by Monemvasia (Gr.: ‘only entrance’) gave the city a semi-autonomous status, and its port, used for both military and commercial purposes, was an important link connecting Constantinople (now Istanbul) with Sicily and Italy. Little is known of the period from the 6th to the 11th centuries, but during the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries, despite a brief Frankish occupation, Monemvasia grew into one of the most prosperous cities and ports of the Byzantine empire. ‘Malmsey’ wine originated from this area. A series of imperial documents offered the city and its ecclesiastical see exceptional privileges; safeguarding these was a primary concern for many centuries. After the fall of Byzantine Morea or Peloponnese to the Turks in ...

Article

Myra  

Jurgen Borchhardt

Site in Lycia, Turkey, 1.5 km north of Demre. The inscriptions and rock-cut tombs indicate that it was an important settlement at least as early as the 5th century bc. In the 2nd century bc it became a member of the Lycian League and continued to flourish under Roman rule (1st century bc–3rd century ad). The miracles performed by its bishop, St Nicholas (b c. 300), brought Myra widespread fame, and under Theodosios II (reg 408–50) it became the provincial capital of Lycia. The rock-cut tombs include a wide variety of types that imitate local wooden and masonry techniques.

Among the more elaborate examples are seven tombs decorated with external reliefs that reflect the process of Hellenization in the 4th century bc. Contrary to earlier scholarly opinion, the façades of these tombs are not based on Lycian houses or Greek temples, but on the banqueting halls within Lycian dwellings. The reliefs frequently contain lifesize figures in a mixed setting such as that of a battle scene combined with a funeral repast....

Article

Thorsten Opper

[now Torre Annunziata]

Roman settlement on the seaward slopes of Mt Vesuvius about five km north-west of Pompeii, in what is now Torre Annunziata. The name Oplontis is attested in the Tabula Peutingeriana, a 13th-century copy of an ancient map of the Roman Empire (Vienna, Österreich. Nbib., Cod. 324). Baths were discovered at the locality of Punta Oncino in 1834 while systematic excavations between 1964 and 1984 unearthed two villas and remains of a portico in the nearby area of Mascatelle.

Villa A is a grand residence with origins in the 1st century bc and extended in the Claudian period (mid-1st century ad). It is also known as Villa of Poppaea, after Poppaea Sabina, second wife of the Roman emperor Nero (an amphora inscribed with the name of one of her freedmen was found on the site). The villa was empty and undergoing restoration work at the time of the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in ...