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Article

Aigina  

Margaret Lyttleton, Stefan Hiller, R. A. Tomlinson, Reinhard Stupperich and Melita Emmanuel

[Aegina]

Greek island in the Saronic Gulf of the Aegean Sea, mid-way between Athens to the north and Argos to the west. It is almost triangular, occupying c. 85 sq. km. The interior is mountainous, rising to a peak of 531 m, and the soil is largely infertile. Aigina is conspicuously visible from the Athenian port of Peiraeus, although Pericles’ description of it as ‘the eyesore of the Peiraeus’ (Plutarch: Pericles, viii) stemmed from political rivalry rather than its actual appearance. The main modern settlement (Aegina) is in the north-west of the island, occupying part of the site of the ancient town of Aigina, which it has entirely obliterated, apart from the remains of some tombs. Outside the town there are two important sanctuaries, that of Zeus and that of Aphaia, a local goddess. The city-state of Aigina was important in the 7th and 6th centuries bc, when it took part in many Greek trading ventures and developed the largest navy in Greece. Aigina was for a long time a rival of Athens and was finally defeated in a naval battle in ...

Article

Akragas  

Erik Østby

[Lat. Agrigentum; now Agrigento]

Greek colony on the southern coast of Sicily. Believed to have been founded c. 580 bc from Gela, a city further down the coast, it flourished as an independent state until 406 bc, when it was sacked by the Carthaginians. It maintained some degree of independence until the Roman conquest of Sicily in 210 bc. The extensive town, lying some 2 km from the sea, was enclosed by walls following natural precipices and includes a steep acropolis now occupied by the modern settlement. Only a small part of the residential area has been excavated, dating to the Hellenistic and Roman periods; it was organized in regular, rectangular blocks after the Hippodamian system (see Hippodamos).

An early column capital, probably made immediately after the foundation of Akragas, is the only remaining example of Doric architecture from the site before c. 500 bc. Small temple buildings without columns were constructed in several locations later occupied by monumental temples. A cluster of such buildings of different shapes, some of them probably unroofed, occupied a sanctuary to the fertility gods in the south-west corner of the town, with round and rectangular monumental altars. Near the east gate, on the edge of the acropolis, a small fountain sanctuary with sacred caves precedes and is associated with a large Temple of Demeter (...

Article

Thorsten Opper

Source of a group of Roman and Greek works of art, in particular a group of Greek bronze sculptures and statuettes. In 1900 sponge-divers discovered the remains of an ancient shipwreck in the sea off the Greek island of Antikythera. In one of the first operations of this kind, they salvaged some its cargo. A new investigation of the wreck site took place in 1976 and succeeded in recovering many further objects, as well as (still unpublished) remains of the hull. All the finds are now in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. The ship, which must have foundered in the second quarter of the 1st century bc, carried a mixed cargo of ‘antique’ and contemporary bronze and marble statuary, as well as luxury products such as bronze furniture attachments, rare and expensive types of glass, gold ingots etc. It also contained the so-called Antikythera Mechanism, an elaborate type of astrolabe....

Article

T. F. C. Blagg

[now Pojan]

Site in Albania, c. 20 km north-east of Kerce. The city was founded about 600 bc as a colony of Corinthians and Corcyreans on low hills bordering the coastal plain of the Aoos River (now Vojussa). In the 3rd and 2nd centuries bc Apollonia supported the Romans in their Macedonian wars, and in the civil war the city was one of Julius Caesar’s bases against Pompey (48 bc). Augustus (reg 27 bcad 14), who had studied there, rewarded the city by granting it autonomy, and Greek remained its official language during the Roman Empire. Its prosperity declined after the 2nd century ad, and it was abandoned during the 6th century ad. The first city defences of fine ashlar masonry (mid-5th century bc) were extended in the following century with external towers and a brick superstructure. The acropolis is flanked by a terrace wall with a corbelled gate with a pointed arch, west of which is a ...

Article

Argos  

Pierre Aupert

Principal city in the Argolid, southern Greece. It was built around the Larissa and Aspis hills dominating the Argive plain, about 8 km from the sea, and flourished throughout Classical antiquity. The modern town occupies the site of the ancient city. Argos was a major power in the Peloponnese from the Bronze Age. Rivalry with Sparta culminated in King Pheidon’s victory in the 7th century bc, which made Argos pre-eminent in Greece. After Pheidon’s death, however, Sparta and the rising power of Corinth held Argos in check. Argos was included in the Roman province of Achaia in 146–5 bc. Polykleitos was the most famous of several renowned Argive sculptors (the ‘Argive school’) of the High Classical period (c. 450–c. 375 bc). Argive architecture, although firmly within the Hellenic tradition, had various distinctive local characteristics and took many innovative forms, especially under the early Roman Empire. Excavations in and around Argos were made by the Dutch archaeologist ...

Article

Asine  

Robin Hägg

[now Kastraki]

Coastal site in the north-eastern Peloponnese in southern Greece, 8 km south-east of Navplion. Centred around an easily defended rocky promontory (acropolis), the settlement is remarkable for its long, almost uninterrupted history of habitation, from at least c. 4000 bc to c. ad 400. It flourished during the Bronze Age (c. 4000–c. 1050 bc) and in the Geometric and Hellenistic periods (c. 900–c. 725 bc and 336–27 bc). First mentioned in the Homeric epic The Iliad (II.560; Catalogue of Ships), it was identified in modern times by E. Curtius in 1852 and excavated by Swedish expeditions in 1922–30 and 1970–90. The finds are in the Navplion Archaeological Museum, among them a terracotta head of less than life-size from the 12th century bc, known as the Lord (or Lady) of Asine (see Helladic, §V, 2, (i)).

On the north-west slope of the acropolis there was an almost continuous habitation: especially remarkable are an apsidal house of the Early Helladic period (...

Article

Assos  

Bonna D. Wescoat

[now Behramkale]

City on the Aegean coast of Turkey, rising from the sea to the summit of the coastal ridge opposite the island of Lesbos. Ancient testimony and archaeological evidence indicate that Assos was founded in the 7th century bc by colonists from Methymna on Lesbos, and its strategic location and protected harbour assured its importance from the 6th century bc to the 4th century ad; Aristotle lived there from 348 to 345 bc. The site was first excavated by Americans in 1881–3; work resumed in 1981 under Turkish direction. Finds, including reliefs from the temple, are now in Paris (Louvre), Boston, MA (Mus. F.A.), Istanbul (Archaeol. Mus.), Çanakkale (Archaeol. Mus.) and at the site.

The plan of Assos followed the steep contours of the area; the buildings were constructed of local volcanic andesite. The Archaic temple on the summit (see fig. (a)), probably dedicated to Athena Polias and built in the second half of the ...

Article

Athens  

O. T. P. K. Dickinson, John Camp, Eleni Bastéa, Evita Arapoglou, Sheila S. Blair, Jonathan M. Bloom, Reinhard Stupperich, José Dörig, I. Leventi, Anne McClanan and Stamatia Kalantzopoulou

[Gr. Athinai]

Capital city of the Republic of Greece, occupying the greater part of the Attic plain, enclosed by the Hymettos, Pentelikon, and Parnis mountains to the east, north, and west, and open to the Saronik Gulf to the south. On this side, about 10 km from the centre of Athens, is the city’s port of Piraeus (anc. Peiraeus). Several lesser hills also form part of the city, including Lykabettos and a group of five hills to the south-west namely the Acropolis, the Areopagos, the Pnyx, and the hills of the Muses and of the Nymphs. From ancient times until the later 20th century the city was dominated by the rocky outcrop of the Acropolis, rising c. 155 m above sea level in the middle of the Attic plain. Difficult to access on all sides except the west, it was a natural site for a fortified settlement that later became the centre of the city’s cult of Athena and the location of some of the most celebrated buildings in world history....

Article

Bassai  

Frederick Cooper

Site on the slopes and peak of Mt Kotilon in Arcadia, southern Greece, overlooking the fertile plains of Messenia. It is renowned for the late 5th-century bc Temple of Apollo with its sculptured Ionic frieze, its peculiar plan and the earliest extant Corinthian capital.

Apollo Bassitas was the principal god but his sanctuary also embraced cults to other gods, notably Artemis. Twin temples to Apollo and Artemis were built by c. 625–600 bc, the former (Apollo I) found immediately south of the present structure. The second temple (Apollo II, c. 575 bc) was replaced by Apollo III c. 500 bc, and blocks from Apollo III were reused in the last temple, Apollo IV, the remains of which stand today. The construction of Apollo IV began shortly after 429 bc, according to Pausanias, although some scholars date it to one or more generations earlier. Other evidence, however, including inscriptions and literary references, support Pausanias’ date. The architect was ...

Article

Brauron  

R. A. Tomlinson

revised by Gordon Campbell

Site of an ancient sanctuary of Artemis (worshipped here as Artemis-Iphigenia, protector of pregnant women) on the east coast of Attica, 6 km north-east of Markopoulon, established by the 8th century bc. A special feature of the cult at Brauron was that the priestesses, known as Artemis’ Bears (arktoi), were girls aged between five and ten. They resided within the sanctuary and were instrumental in a great festival, the Brauroneia, celebrated there every five years. A similar cult was subsequently introduced on the Athenian Acropolis, probably owing to the growing importance of aristocratic families with estates near Brauron. The site was excavated in 1946–52 and 1956–63 by J. Papadimitriou.

The Temple of Artemis (6th century bc) is a small, Doric, non-peripteral building of which only the foundations remain. Beyond it was a copious spring, liable to flooding. A small, nondescript building some 10 m south-east of the temple was perhaps the residence of the Bears. The most important architectural remains are those of a Doric stoa (end of ...

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

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

Corfu  

Margaret Lyttleton, R. A. Tomlinson and Helen Angelomatis-Tsougarakis

[Gr. Kerkyra]

Greek island approximately 3 km off the west coast of Albania, the second largest of the Ionian group. About 64×32 km in area, it is mountainous in the north and fertile in the south. Settlement may be traced to the 6th millennium bc. The island’s position on trade routes from Greece to the Balkans, Italy and Sicily led to the establishment of a colony in the early 8th century bc by settlers from Eretria on Euboia, who were displaced c. 734 bc by Corinthian colonists. The main settlement, close to modern Corfu town, was known as Kerkyra, which may be a corruption of Gorgon (see §1). Attempts by the settlers to assert their independence from Corinth eventually led to an alliance with Athens in 433 bc that initiated the Peloponnesian War (431–404 bc). From 229 bc Corfu was under Roman rule, becoming part of the province of Macedonia in ...

Article

Corinth  

Susan Langdon, C. K. Williams II, Charles M. Edwards and Mark Whittow

[Korinth; Korinthos]

Greek city, capital of the nome (department) of Korinthia and seat of a bishopric, near the isthmus between central and southern Greece. It flourished throughout Classical antiquity.

Susan Langdon

Backed by the steep citadel of Acrocorinth, which served as its acropolis, ancient Corinth derived its prosperity from its access to both the Corinthian and Saronic gulfs and hence the Adriatic and Aegean seas. Its twin harbours at Lechaion and Kenchreai, linked by a paved slipway, offered sea merchants a safe alternative to the passage around southern Greece and established Corinth as a transfer point between East and West. Population pressures in the 8th century bc led Corinth to participate in Greek colonizing activities by founding settlements at Syracuse and Kerkyra (Corfu), while in the 7th century bc it became the foremost artistic centre in Greece, promoting the development and spread of Doric architecture and dominating pottery production. Corinthian pottery, with its distinctive animal friezes and exotic vegetation, was ...

Article

Cumae  

David Ridgway

Greek colony on the Bay of Naples in southern Italy, which flourished from the 8th century bc until around 300 bc. It was the oldest and most northerly Greek settlement on the Italian mainland. There are faint traces of a Greek presence from around 750 bc, and Livy’s hint (History of Rome, VIII.xxii.5–6) that its Chalkidian founders came from Pithekoussai is strongly supported by the archaeological discoveries made there. The site had a naturally defensible acropolis, already used by an indigenous Iron Age community, and convenient access to a good harbour, now silted up. Cumae took over and developed Pithekoussai’s role as a trading centre, and until around 500 bc played a major part in the spread of Greek religious cults, art and culture to the region. Indeed, it was from Cumae that the Etruscans adopted the Euboian alphabet around 700 bc, taking it eventually to Rome and north Italy, and bringing it back to Campania during their period of hegemony (...

Article

Cyrene  

F. B. Sear and Susan Kane

[Arab. Shaḥḥāt]

City in Libya, 8 km from the coast and 620 m above sea-level on a plateau of the al-Jabal al-Akh?ar (Green Mountain). The Greek city flourished from its founding as a Dorian colony c. 630 bc to Hellenistic times, and its Greek culture was maintained during the long period of Roman rule, when its fortunes declined somewhat.

F. B. Sear

Cyrene’s principal monuments, restored by their Italian excavators, reveal the splendours of the Greek city. It changed only superficially in Roman times, when alterations to existing buildings were more common than new projects.

Herodotus (IV. cl–clviii) related how a party of Therans, forced by drought to leave their native island, settled at Cyrene because of its high rainfall. Their leader, Battos, became king and established a dynasty that lasted until 440 bc. The site is protected on three sides by gorges with gently sloping ground to the east. A low hill, the acropolis, rises to the west and immediately below its north slopes is the Sanctuary of Apollo. Springs emerge from the rock at this point, ensuring a constant water supply. The plateau is divided by the valley street, which runs from the east gate down to the Sanctuary of Apollo and then past the north necropolis to the port of Apollonia, 19 km away. Parallel to the valley street is the Street of Battos, which runs from the south-east gate through the agora to the acropolis. A main transverse street intersected both streets just east of the Hellenistic gymnasium. The earliest settlers presumably occupied the acropolis, and the eastern fringe of the later agora seems to have been used as a burial ground, which suggests that the early town could not have extended far to the east. Other evidence for the early city is pottery from ...

Article

Delos  

Philippe Bruneau and Jean Marcadé

Small Greek island (5 sq. km) in the Cyclades. It was inhabited at least as early as the 3rd millennium bc and throughout antiquity was one of the most important religious and trading centres of the Aegean. It was sacred to the ancient Greeks as the birthplace of the deities Apollo and Artemis, and numerous sanctuaries established from the 7th century bc onwards have been excavated. In the early 3rd century bc Delos was at the height of its prosperity. Around 250 bc Roman merchants began to settle there and soon came to dominate its cosmopolitan mercantile community. In 88 bc, during the First Mithridatic War, Delos was sacked, and, although partly rebuilt, it had become virtually uninhabited by the 2nd century ad. Abandoned in the 6th or 7th century ad, it was subsequently exploited as a marble quarry. Excavations were begun in 1873 by the French School at Athens and are still in progress. During the first excavations most of the Imperial Roman and Early Christian buildings were destroyed, often without being studied, and almost the only remains still ...

Article

Delphi  

Georges Roux and Jean Marcadé

Site in Phokis in central Greece, c. 165 km north-west of Athens, which flourished from the 8th century bc to the 2nd century ad. It was one of the most important sacred sites of ancient Greece, the home of the Delphic Oracle and reputed to be the centre of the world. High in the foothills of Mt Parnassos, Delphi lies between the twin cliffs of the Phaidriades (‘shining rocks’), overlooking the valley of the River Pleistos and the plain of Kirrha (now Itea) on the shores of the Gulf of Corinth.

Delphi is widely regarded as the most strikingly beautiful ancient site in Greece. The Oracle was formally abolished by the emperor Theodosios I c. ad 385, and thereafter Delphi was almost entirely neglected until the site was rediscovered in 1676. Excavations started in the mid-19th century, and in 1892 a systematic survey was begun by the French School at Athens. Work on the site was intensive until ...

Article

Thorsten Opper

Greek bronze statue of the early 5th century bc from the sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi (h. 1.8 m; Delphi, Archaeol. Mus.; see fig.). The Charioteer was discovered in 1896 together with bronze fragments of a horse team and chariot, the arm of a further, smaller figure (an outrider or groom) and an inscribed base block of Pentelic marble, all of which seem to have belonged to the same monument. A young man, the charioteer is clad in a xystis, the long, short-sleeved tunic typical of his profession, the long vertical folds of which highlight the statue's plain, column-like character. While the Charioteer stands erect, with his feet close together and his weight evenly distributed, his entire body turns to the right in an unusual, gradual spiral movement, perhaps an indication that the figure was meant to be seen in a three-quarter profile from the right. The statue was cast in seven main pieces, possibly in the direct lost-wax technique; only the left arm is now missing. Finer details were added in different materials (glass paste, black stone and brown onyx for the eyes, copper for eyelashes and lips, silver for the teeth, copper and silver for the inlaid meander pattern of the hair band). The remains of the dedicatory inscription (‘Polyzalos erected me… Make him prosper, glorious Apollo’) are essential for narrowing down the date and historical context of the monument. It seems likely that the ...

Article

Derveni  

Dimitris Plantzos

Site in Northern Greece, approximately 9.5 km NW from Thessaloniki, where seven mostly undisturbed tombs were discovered in 1962, dating from about 320–290 bc.

Five of the Derveni tombs are cist graves, large rectangular chambers dug underground, dressed with large blocks of local limestone; one is a pit grave, and one a monumental tomb of the ‘Macedonian’ type (see Macedonian tomb). The majority of the Derveni cist graves were roofed with stone covering slabs, while wooden planks were also used for some. Two of the tombs were paved with stones, while the remaining three had floors of beaten earth. Many similar 4th century bc examples exist in western and central northern Greece.

The interior walls of the tombs, and the floor of some, were coated with lime plaster, often coloured in wide blue, yellow and red bands or bearing painted decoration, such as the horizontal friezes depicting olive branches in Tomb Beta, and a garland of myrtle leaves and berries in Tomb Alpha. The use of wall paintings in chamber tombs and cist graves was a widely observed practice in northern Greece (Thessaly and Macedonia) in the Classical and Hellenistic periods....