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Article

Peter Grossmann

[Abū Mīnā]

Site of a Christian city and pilgrimage centre in the Maryūt Desert, c. 45 km south-west of Alexandria, Egypt. It grew up around the shrine of St Menas, who was martyred during the persecution of the Christians instigated by Diocletian (reg 285–305). The ancient name of the site is not known, and the position of the saint’s grave had been long forgotten until, according to legend, several miracle cures led to its rediscovery. The place then quickly developed into an increasingly major centre of pilgrimage where, among other things, the so-called Menas ampules were manufactured as pilgrim flasks and achieved particular renown. The first excavations of the site were undertaken by Kaufmann in 1905–7. Further excavations have been directed successively by the Coptic Museum in Cairo (1951), Schläger (1963 and 1964), Wolfgang Müller-Wiener (1965–7) and Peter Grossmann (since 1969).

The earliest archaeological remains date to the late 4th century, although the grave itself was in an older hypogeum. The first martyrium basilica erected over the grave dates to the first half of the 5th century and was rapidly enlarged by various reconstructions and extensions. Around the turn of the 5th and 6th centuries, the Great Basilica was added to the east in the form of a transept-basilica, making it the largest church in Egypt (...

Article

Aksum  

Francis Anfray

[Axoum; Axum]

Capital of the ancient kingdom of Aksum, in the modern Tigray Province of Ethiopia, c. 600 km north of Addis Ababa. It flourished between the 1st and 8th centuries ad. The modern town occupies part of the site, which faces south over a fertile plain at the foot of a flat-topped hill, Mt Beta Giyorgis. The ancient city’s importance is attested by the many monuments scattered throughout the modern town, including huge stelae and throne bases, broken pillars, inscriptions and royal hypogea. The first extensive investigations were undertaken in 1906 by a German team under E. Littmann. During the 1960s and 1970s French, British and Italian teams carried out further excavations, led by Francis Anfray, Neville Chittick and Lanfranco Ricci, respectively.

From the 5th century bc the surrounding region was ruled by a local monarchy with a major centre of Yeha, less than 50 km north-east of Aksum, with close ties to the kingdom of Saba in southern Arabia. Elements of this strong southern Arabic influence survived in the culture of Aksum and its kingdom, which was founded in the 1st century ...

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

Amman  

Adnan Hadidi, Alastair Northedge and Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

[Arab. ‛Amman; anc. Rabbath Ammon, later Philadelphia]

Capital of the kingdom of Jordan and site of a city that flourished between the 2nd millennium bc and the 14th century ad. The site lies in a fertile, well-watered area in the tableland to the east of the River Jordan, on the biblical King’s Highway (the ancient Roman Via Nova Traiana), which ran from Bosra in the north to the Red Sea in the south.

The ancient city consisted of the citadel, or acropolis, built in three terraces rising from west to east on a steep-sided, L-shaped hill, and the lower town in the valley of the Wadi ‛Amman to the south. The earliest material found on the citadel dates to the 3rd millennium bc; from c. 1100 bc until 582 bc the city was the capital of the kingdom of Ammon. Excavations around the perimeter of the hill have uncovered Ammonite tombs and Hellenistic and early Roman occupation from the ...

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

Senake Bandaranayake

[Anurādhapura]

Ancient city and religious centre in north-central Sri Lanka on the Malvatu Oya River. The site (see fig.) extends over an area of about 64 sq. km. At its centre are the vestiges of a fortified inner city, surrounded by several ancient Buddhist monastery complexes and four large, man-made lakes. The founding of Anuradhapura as a major urban complex is traditionally ascribed to the semi-historical figure of the pre-Buddhist period, King Pandukabhaya, in the 4th century bc. Recent excavations indicate the existence of settlement, import ceramics and early writing from a horizon of the 5th century bc or earlier, indicating the possibility of urbanization taking place from c. mid-1st millennium bc. The earliest rock shelter monasteries at the site date from the last few centuries bc.

Anuradhapura was the country’s principal political and religious centre for nearly a millennium and a half, until the closing decades of the 10th century ...

Article

Anyang  

Robert W. Bagley

[An-yang]

Chinese city in Henan Province, near the site of the last capital of the Shang dynasty or Yin dynasty, occupied c.1300– c. 1050 bc. The site is sometimes called Yinxu, ‘Waste of Yin’, an ancient name for the abandoned city.

At least as early as the Northern Song period (960–1127) Anyang was known to antiquarians as a source of ancient bronze ritual vessels. At the beginning of the 20th century archaeologists were led there by the realization that animal bones and turtle shells found by local farmers were carved with inscriptions in a form of Chinese script more archaic than any previously known (for a discussion of the oracle-bone texts see China, People’s Republic of, §IV, 2, (i)). The bones had been used in divination rituals; their inscriptions, which showed the divinations to have been performed on behalf of the last nine Shang kings, secured the identification of the Anyang site. According to historical texts of the last few centuries ...

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

Seton Lloyd

[Arab. ‛Aqarqūf; anc. Dur Kurigalzu]

. Site in Iraq of the ancient capital city of the Kassites, which flourished c. 1400–1157 bc (see also Mesopotamia, §I, 2). The ruins of ancient Dur Kurigalzu are 15 km west of modern Baghdad, at the point where an outcrop of soft limestone marks the northern extremity of the alluvial plain. The eroded core of its Ziggurat (now partly rest.) is visible from the highway leading west to Ramūdī and the desert crossing to Jordan. The mud-brick fabric of its structure is reinforced with deep layers of reed-matting and faced on all sides with kiln-baked brick.

Iraqi excavations at Aqar Quf in 1942–5 under Taha Baqir led to the discovery of a complex of temple buildings at the foot of the ziggurat itself. A Kassite dynasty ruled Babylonia from the 16th century to the 12th century bc, apparently maintaining the ancient civic and religious traditions of Mesopotamia. The architecture of this temple precinct was therefore characteristic of the period (...

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

Armant  

M. S. Drower

[anc. Gr. Hermonthis; Copt. Ermont]

City in Egypt, on the west bank of the Nile, some 10 km south of Luxor. It was at first called Iunu-Shema (Egyp.: ‘the southern Heliopolis’) and Iunu-Montu (Egyp.: ‘Heliopolis of the war-god Montu’), from which subsequent names derive. It was the capital of the fourth nome (administrative province) of Upper Egypt throughout the Old Kingdom (c. 2575–c. 2150 bc), until the rise of the city of Thebes. Armant was the original home of the Mentuhotpe family, the founders of the 11th Dynasty. Preliminary excavations in the town area (1935–7) uncovered stone relief blocks of many periods; a few delicate reliefs of the 11th Dynasty show Sankhkare Mentuhotpe III in the company of Montu and his consorts the goddesses Iuniyt and Teneniyt. Some lower courses of a New Kingdom temple were uncovered, including the base of an 18th Dynasty Pylon bearing a depiction of a lively procession of Nubian captives headed by a rhinoceros. A granite stele, found near by, records various exploits, such as the capture of a rhinoceros by Tuthmosis III....

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

Aswan  

Edda Bresciani

[anc. Egyp. Abu, Swenet; Copt. Sawan; Gr. Syene]

Egyptian city at the northern end of the first Nile cataract, c. 900 km south of Cairo. The modern town chiefly stretches along the eastern bank of a sandstone valley, which also contains numerous islands formed by the granite outcrops of the cataract; its ancient monuments are found on both the east and west banks and on some of the islands.

In ancient times Aswan was a garrison town marking the traditional boundary between Egypt and Nubia; as such it served as the capital of the first nome (province) of Egypt and the seat of its governors. The town’s wealth was generated by its position on an important trade route between the Nile Valley and the African lands to the south and by its granite quarries, which provided the material for countless ancient monuments. The islands of the cataract enjoyed religious status as the mythological source of the annual Nile inundation, while the Temple of Isis at ...

Article

Asyut  

Diana Magee

[Assiut; anc. Djauty, Gr. Lycopolis, Arab. Siūt]

Capital city of the 13th Upper Egyptian nome (administrative province), situated on the west bank of the Nile at the end of the caravan route from the el-Kharga oasis. The ancient town, with its temple dedicated to Wepwawet, the local canine deity, probably lies under the modern one. The necropolis was excavated by Emile Chassinat in 1903. The most important periods at Asyut were the Herakleopolitan (c. 2130–c. 1970 bc), when Asyut supported the northern kings against Thebes, and the Middle Kingdom (c. 2008–c. 1630 bc), although two Ramesside tombs have also been found.

The rock-cut tombs of the Herakleopolitan nomarchs are single-chambered, containing biographical inscriptions describing campaigns against the south. The Middle Kingdom tomb of Hepdjefa I, famous for its texts of contracts with funerary priests, introduced a new type: a series of chambers leading to a central shrine at the rear. The scanty remains of the reliefs indicate that a school of fine craftsmen was established in the Herakleopolitan period, producing good, formal work at a time when other provincial art was eccentric. A scene of soldiers in the tomb of ...

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

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 ...