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Excavations at Ancient Greek City of Amphipolis Yield New Discoveries

Ruins at the ancient city of Amphipolis, where further new discoveries have been made. Credit Marmontel.
Ruins at the ancient city of Amphipolis, where further new discoveries have been made. Credit: Marmontel. CC BY 2.0/flickr

New discoveries have been made by an archaeological excavation in the Kasta Tomb and the Amphipolis archaeological site, which highlight the strategic character of the city and its significance in notable events of the past.

Speaking to ERT, Dimitria Malamidou, head of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Serres, said that announcements about the new findings are due to be made at the 36th scientific meeting of the “Archaeological Project in Macedonia and Thrace”, being held on March 28 and 29.

She explained that the new discoveries from the Kasta Tomb and the Amphipolis archaeological site would be presented in three parts, the first will detail findings from the ancient market, which has been worked on by professor of classical archaeology at the University of Patras, Dimitris Damascus. The dig uncovered the ancient market, which is now known to have functioned as the economic and administrative center of the city, from the late 5th and 4th centuries.

Kasta Hill Amphipolis, Greece
Kasta Hill in Amphipolis. Credit: Neptuul. CC BY-SA 4.0/Wikimedia Commons

The second announcement focuses on a ceramic kiln found in the north wall, and the third notice will expand on new excavations being planned to try and find the ancient stadium.

History of the City of Amphipolis

Amphipolis was originally a colony of ancient Athenians and was the site of the battle between the Spartans and Athenians in 422 BC. It was later the place where Alexander the Great prepared for campaigns leading to his invasion of Asia in 335 BC. Alexander’s three best admirals, Nearchus, Androsthenes and Laomedon, all lived in Amphipolis.

Following Alexander’s death, his wife Roxana and their son Alexander IV were imprisoned and murdered in 311 BC.

Thucydides claims the name Amphipolis comes from the fact that the Strymon River flows “around the city” on two sides. However, a note in the Suda gives a different explanation apparently put forward by Marsyas, son of Periander, that a large proportion of the population lives “around the city”.

Credit: Ministry of Culture

But the most probable explanation is the one given by Julius Pollux: that the name indicated the vicinity of an isthmus.

Amphipolis – after concerted efforts – became the main power base of the Athenians in Thrace and, consequently, a target of choice for their Spartan adversaries. In 424 BC, during the Peloponnesian War, the Spartan general Brasidas captured Amphipolis.

Two years later in 422 BC, a new Athenian force under the general Cleon failed once more during the Battle of Amphipolis at which both Kleon and Brasidas lost their lives. Brasidas survived long enough to hear of the defeat of the Athenians and was buried at Amphipolis with impressive pomp. From then on he was regarded as the founder of the city and honoured with yearly games and sacrifices.

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