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Article

Thorsten Opper

Elaborate monument erected by Octavian (later Augustus) in 29–27 bc on the Preveza Peninsula in Western Greece, north of the present-day town of Preveza, overlooking Cape Actium, to commemorate his naval victory over Mark Antony at Actium in 31 bc. The nearby city of Nikopolis (Gr.: ‘city of victory’) was founded for the same purpose at about the same time.

According to the historian Dio Cassius (Roman History LI.i.3), after his victory Octavian laid a foundation of square stones on the spot where he had pitched his tent, which he then adorned with the captured ships’ rams. On this foundation, according to Dio, Octavian established an open-air shrine dedicated to Apollo. Suetonius (Augustus xviii.2) and Strabo (Geography VII.vii.6) corroborate this evidence, although the trophy itself (with the ships’ rams) was, according to Suetonius, dedicated to Poseidon and Mars, presumably for their help during the battle. The hill itself was, according to Strabo, sacred to Apollo, and therefore the shrine was dedicated to him....

Article

Aizanoi  

William E. Mierse

[Lat. Aizani]

Site of Hellenistic and Roman city, 54 km south-west of Kütahya in Turkey. Its remains comprise a Temple of Zeus, two agoras, a heroön, a macellum (market), a round structure with the Edict on Prices of Diocletian (ad 301) carved on its exterior walls, a stadium and theatre complex, a bath–gymnasium, bridges and quays. Most date to the 2nd century ad, the period of the city’s greatest prosperity. The theatre–stadium group and the Temple of Zeus were both built during the reign of Hadrian (reg ad 118–37).

The temple is particularly significant because of its excellent state of preservation and its combination of Greco-Anatolian and Roman architectural forms. Inscriptions on the exterior walls of the cella attest to the date of construction. They also record a gift of land to Zeus made by the Hellenistic rulers Attalos I Soter (reg 241–197 bc) and either Prusias I (...

Article

Judith McKenzie, R. R. R. Smith, Wiktor A. Daszewski, A. H. Enklaar, Dominic Montserrat, C. Walters, and Wladyslaw B. Kubiak

revised by Gordon Campbell, 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

Anjar  

Hafez K. Chehab

[Andjar, ‛Anjar, ‛Ayn al-Jarr]

Late Antique and early Islamic settlement in the Beqa‛a Valley of Lebanon, 56 km east of Beirut. Excavations since 1953 have revealed a cardinally orientated rectangular enclosure (370×310 m) with dressed stone walls. Each side has regularly spaced half-round towers and a central gate. Two colonnaded avenues intersecting at right angles under a tetrapylon link the gates, a plan recalling that of Roman foundations in the Levant and in North Africa. Within the enclosure are the remains of two palaces and the foundations of three others in stone and hard mortar, as well as a mosque, two baths (one paved with mosaics) and a well. The western area has streets intersecting at right angles and housing units with private courts, and the eastern area has open fields beyond the palaces and mosque. The construction of the greater palace in alternating courses of stone and brick is a technique well known in Byzantine architecture. Reused architectural elements from the Roman and early Christian periods, some bearing Greek inscriptions, are found all over the site. A large quantity of archivolts and mouldings, carved with vegetal, geometrical and figural motifs, was found among the ruined palaces. Texts suggest that Anjar was founded in the time of the Umayyad caliph al-Walid (...

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

Dominic Montserrat

[Antinoë; now el-Sheikh Ibada]

Egyptian site 75 km north of Asyut. The town was officially founded by the Emperor Hadrian in October ad 130 to commemorate his favourite, Antinous, who had been drowned there. However, there was a Late Predynastic (c. 3000 bc) cemetery on the site and Ramesses II (reg c. 1279–c. 1213 bc) built a temple there using decorated blocks and columns from buildings at Tell el-Amarna. The Roman town was designed on a grid plan and boasted an amphitheatre and hippodrome, a temple to the deified Antinous and a colonnaded main street with a triumphal arch: the last, now destroyed, was still standing when Edmé Jomard (1777–1862) visited and drew the site in 1803. The necropolis of Antinoöpolis has yielded important Roman artefacts, particularly illustrated papyri, textiles (e.g. Lyon, Mus. Hist. Tissus, 28.927 and encaustic mummy portraits of distinctive shape and technique. The last were produced by a local school of artists and often embellished with gilded wreaths and stucco jewellery before being bound into the mummy wrappings (e.g. Detroit, MI, Inst. A., 25.2); their style and iconography blends Egyptian and Hellenistic elements. Brick tombs of the 6th century ...

Article

Thorsten Opper

(b Claudiopolis [Bithynion] c. ad 110; d Egypt, October ad 130).

Greek youth from north-western Asia Minor who became the companion and lover of the Roman emperor Hadrian (reg ad 117–138) until his mysterious death in the Nile in October ad 130. The bereaved emperor gave orders for Antinous to be deified as Antinous-Osiris and founded a new city, Antinoöpolis, close to the spot where Antinous had died. From there, his cult spread rapidly over the empire, especially the Greek-speaking areas, where festivals in his honour were established and an astounding number of images dedicated. Most remarkable (apart from preserved representations on coins, gems etc, and paintings attested in literary sources) were his sculptured portraits, frequently likened to gods of the Classical Pantheon, of which nearly 100 have survived—a number surpassed only by the portraits of the emperors Augustus and Hadrian. Their ubiquity and often high quality made them icons of ancient art, highly influential and frequently copied from the Renaissance onwards....

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

Stephen Mitchell

[‘Pisidian’]

Greek and Roman city in western Asia Minor (now Turkey) on a plateau above Yalvaĉ. It was founded by the Seleucids in the 3rd century bc and refounded as a colony for veteran soldiers by Augustus c.25 bc; it flourished until the Early Christian period. The site was excavated in 1924 by D. M. Robinson and was the object of a detailed archaeological survey by S. Mitchell and M. Waelkens in 1982–3. Further excavations have taken place during the 1980s and 1990s, directed by M. Taslianan. About 4 km south of the city Hellenistic remains survive at the sanctuary of Mên Askaênos, where an imposing temenos with porticos on four sides enclosed a mid-2nd-century bc Ionic temple (6 by 11 columns) on a high, stepped podium. The design of the temple was influenced by the layout of the temples of Zeus Sosipolis and Artemis Leukophryene at Magnesia on the Maeander...

Article

Apameia  

Jean Ch. Balty and Janine Balty

[Lat. Apamea; Arab. Afāmiya, Fāmiya; now Qal‛at al-Muḍīq]

Hellenistic and Roman city in northern Syria, on a plateau on the south-west tip of Jebel Zawiye overlooking the valley of the Asi (formerly the Orontes). It was founded in 300–299 bc by Seleukos I Nikator (reg 301–281 bc) on the site of an ancient Bronze Age capital; it was one of the four great cities known as the Tetrapolis. The disastrous earthquake of 15 December ad 115 carried away most of the original buildings, but in many places there remain powerful courses, solidly anchored on rock, of the Hellenistic walls, eloquent testimony to their 7 km circuit of the city. The Apameia that the excavations of a Belgian archaeological expedition brought to light from 1928 onwards is essentially a Roman city, capital of the province of Syria Secunda from c. ad 415. Apameia contributed greatly to the cultural life of the empire and a famous school of Neo-Platonic philosophy existed there from the 2nd to the 4th century ...

Article

Kenan T. Erim and Kalinka Huber

Hellenistic and Roman site in south-west Caria, Asia Minor (modern Turkey), on a plateau in the Baba Dag mountains above a tributary valley of the Maeander (Büyük Menderes).

Kenan T. Erim

As its name suggests, Aphrodisias was a major cult centre of a goddess of nature and fertility, originally of local character but eventually influenced by other similar Anatolian and Near Eastern divinities. She was identified with Aphrodite only in late Hellenistic times, so the use of the name Aphrodisias for the site must also be dated to that time; Stephanos of Byzantium indicated that it was also known by other names (Nations cdlxxvi.6–7). Access to the site was for a long time difficult. From the late 18th century several archaeologically inclined travellers, including members of the Society of Dilettanti, described visible remains and copied inscriptions. Early excavations, undertaken by a French amateur archaeologist, Paul Gaudin, in 1904–5 and by an Italian mission under ...

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

Franz Rickert

Roman and Early Christian city at the east end of the plain of the Veneto, c. 90 km north-east of Venice and 5 km from the Adriatic coast. Founded as a Roman colony in 181 bc, it received full town status in 89 bc and became the regional capital of Venetia et Histria. It was strategically sited on the River Natissa, which was navigable to the sea, and at the intersection of routes leading north-west over the Alps and north-east to the Balkans. Written sources indicate that several emperors, including Constantine the Great, had a residence in Aquileia; from ad 294 to the 5th century it also had its own mint. In 313 it became a bishopric and in 381 it was the venue of a council before which followers of Arianism were tried. Civil wars and the invasions of the Huns (452) and the Lombards (568) led to the migration of most of the population and the transference of the see to Grado....

Article

Arausio  

T. F. C. Blagg

[now Orange]

Roman town in south-west France, 7 km east of the river Rhône. It is famous for its theatre and triumphal arch. The Roman colony of Arausio was founded c. 35 bc for veterans of the 2nd Gallic Legion beside the Saint-Eutrope Hill, probably a stronghold of the native tribe of the Tricastini, which Strabo (IV.i.12) described as the most Romanized in southern Gaul. The Roman city included most of the hill, the regular street grid beginning at the foot of its steep northern slopes. The alignment of the streets was continued in the road system that divided the territory into equally sized plots of land allocated to each colonist. This is attested by the remarkable discovery in a limekiln near the theatre of fragments of three cadastral surveys carved on marble tablets (Orange, Mus. Mun.), the earliest set up in the city’s record office in ad 77, the second and most informative probably made in the reign of Trajan (...

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

Iain Browning

[now Bilkis]

Site in southern Turkey of a Greek and Roman city that flourished c. 100 bcad 300. It is eight miles from the mouth of the River Köprüçay (anc. Eurymedon) in the region once known as Pamphylia. It was a Greek colony that claimed to have been founded by Argos, but was incorporated with all Pamphylia into the Lydian empire of Croesus (c. 560 bc), and was then lost by Croesus to Cyrus of Persia in 546 bc. Despite the Athenian general Kimon’s double victory over the Persians at the mouth of the Eurymedon (c. 468 bc), and its subsequent membership of the Athenian-dominated Delian League, Aspendos remained voluntarily under Persian control until taken by Alexander the Great (334/333 bc). Thereafter it changed hands several times, being held successively by Antigonos, the Ptolemies and the Seleucids until it was ceded to Rome in ...

Article

Augst  

Anthony King

[anc. Augusta Raurica]

Swiss town on the Rhine near Basle, formerly a Roman colony. The well-preserved and extensively excavated Roman town is important for the study of urban planning and civic architecture. It was founded by a close colleague of Julius Caesar, L. Munatius Plancus, c. 44 bc in order to establish a bastion of Romanization in the region. The earliest surviving remains date from the Augustan period, and there was much building activity throughout the 1st and 2nd centuries ad, a period that marks the floruit of the colony. The centre of Augst was dominated by its forum–basilica–capitolium complex, laid out in the format typical of Gallic towns and one of the best examples of its type (see Rome, ancient, §III, 2). Considerable rebuilding during the 2nd century included the addition of a circular curia. The axis of the complex was the same as that of the surrounding street grid. At the temple end of the forum, however, the axis changed orientation and led to a second major group of monuments, including a theatre, which faced a second large Classical temple (am Schönbühl). The theatre originated in the early 1st century but was transformed into an amphitheatre in the later 1st century and then back into a theatre in the mid-2nd century. The Schönbühl temple (2nd century), positioned on a low hill and aligned with the theatre, would have been a major backdrop to theatrical performances. It succeeded a group of much smaller Romano-Celtic temples. The town as a whole is notable for its religious remains....

Article

T. F. C. Blagg

revised by Gordon Campbell

[now Mérida]

Roman town in south-west Spain, c. 56 km east of Badajoz, at the confluence of the Guadiana and Albarregas rivers. It was founded in 25 bc as a colony for army veterans (emeritus means ‘veteran’) and was the chief city of the Roman province of Lusitania. Its Roman remains are the most substantial in Spain.

Emerita benefited from superior public works projects. Roman bridges remain across both the rivers. The larger of the two, that over the Guadiana River (nearly 800 m long; early 2nd century ad), which is still in use, was originally constructed of 60 arches of which 57 survive, although many of them have been rebuilt since Roman times. The arches are made of concrete faced with granite and the bridge extends 792 metres across the river valley. The route across the bridge carried the traffic from the major highway out of town directly into the ...

Article

Anthony King

[now Avenches , Switzerland]

Roman site, 17 km south-west of Berne, which flourished in the 2nd century ad. The town was founded c. 8 bc as the administrative centre of the civitas Helvetiorum and was elevated to the status of colonia during the Civil War of ad 69–70. It had suffered near total abandonment by the late 3rd century, although occupation may have continued in the vicinity of the existing medieval and modern town. The layout of the town—a good example of urban planning of the early Imperial period—is on a grid plan on a module of 75×110 m, with a central forum and baths, and a religious complex on the south side of the gridded area. The surrounding walls are 5.7 km in length, enclosing an area twice the size of the town. The reason for the disparity is not known: perhaps it represents an over-ambitious allowance for expansion, or perhaps the length of the walls was a symbol of civic pride. The most notable architectural feature is the temple building that includes the well-known standing column called Le Cigognier. The column forms one of the sides of the temple’s pronaos, which was probably of Classical, not Romano-Celtic, form, to judge from the excavated plan. The temple faces the town’s theatre across an expansive temenos, in a single ensemble dated to the ...

Article

Baalbek  

Margaret Lyttleton

[Heliopolis]

Greco-Roman site in Lebanon, c. 1150 m above the fertile Bekaa Valley 64 km to the north-east of Beirut. Its remains chiefly comprise the vast Sanctuary of Jupiter Heliopolitanus (begun c. 1st century bc), the exceptionally well preserved ‘Temple of Bacchus’ (2nd century ad; see fig.) and an elegant circular temple perhaps dedicated to Venus (3rd century ad; 1b). The ancient city lay on the caravan route from Damascus and Palmyra to the Phoenician coastal cities and was occupied from prehistoric times, although it did not become important until the Hellenistic period (323–27 bc). Attempts to link Baalbek with Solomon’s Balaath, or with any other biblical site, have not met with general acceptance. The worship at Baalbek of the Semitic storm god Baal, whom the Greeks assimilated to Zeus and the Romans to Jupiter, was of great antiquity: the rectangular court of the Temple of Jupiter was built over an ancient tell containing the remains of at least three sanctuaries going back to the ...