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Hellenistic Thessaloniki

  • Michael Vickers (a1)

It would seem that the plan of Thessaloniki (fig. 4) was laid out at the time of the city's foundation by Cassander in c. 316 b.c. and that it has close parallels in the plans of other early Hellenistic cities. There was possibly an agora in the upper city from the beginning, but the principal, commercial agora of the Hellenistic city was probably closer to the sea. A large open space to the west was possibly a ‘sacred area’ in Hellenistic times, but the only religious centre whose site is known with any degree of certainty is the Serapeum. A gymnasium is known to have existed to the north of the city from the late Hellenistic period at least, and a nearby stadium probably goes back to Hellenistic times as well.

The Hellenistic fortifications probably followed the lines of those of the mid-fifth century a.d. In common with many other Hellenistic cities there is an acropolis incorporated in the city wall, but the fortifications of Thessaloniki are slightly anomalous in that the lower stretches of the east and west walls run parallel with some of the streets of the city plan.

Thus, even though the reconstruction of Hellenistic Thessaloniki may be an elusive and often a speculative business, the statement of an anonymous writer to the effect that ‘il ne reste à Thessaloniki aucun vestige de la ville hellénistique’ is certainly exaggerated.

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I should like to thank Professor G. Bakalakis, Professor Ch. Bouras, Mr M. H. Bräude, Professor C. F. Edson, Dr Ph. Petsas, and Dr W. H. Plommer for their assistance in various ways in the preparation of this article. Dr Plommer, Dr H. P. Laubscher and Dr A. H. MacDonald were kind enough to read it through in draft form and it has benefited as a result of their comments.

1 E.g., Castagnoli, F., Ippodamo di Mileto e l'urbanistica a pianta ortogonale (Rome, 1956) 77; Martin, R., L'Urbanisme dans la Grèce antique (Paris, 1956) 163; Giuliano, A., Urbanistica delle città greche (Milan, 1966) 200.

2 von Schoenebeck, H., ‘Die Stadtplanung des römischen Thessalonike’ in Bericht über den 6. internationales Kongress für Archäologie (Berlin, 1940) 480.

3 From Town Planning Review ix (1922) pl. 33. Similar plans are to be found in Ancel, J., La Macédoine, son évolution contemporaine (Paris, 1930) pl. 63 (opposite p. 296) and Strück, A., Byz. Zeit xiv (1905) 545.

4 The present name is a misnomer based on the assumption that the ancient Via Egnatia ran through the centre of the town. Makaronas, Ch. has clearly demonstrated in ‘Via Egnatia and Thessalonike’, Studies presented to D. M. Robinson i (St Louis, 1951) 380–8, that this was not the case and that the Via Egnatia in effect by-passed Thessaloniki.

5 J. Ancel, op. cit. 286.

6 See the writer's ‘The Byzantine Sea Walls of Thessaloniki’, Balkan Studies xi (1970) 277, fig. 3 (cited below as ‘Byzantine Sea Walls’).

7 Ancel, op. cit., pl. 63, legend. For evidence that this area was not built up in the seventeenth or eighteenth centuries, see ‘Byzantine Sea Walls’, pls. 1b and 2b.

8 Dyggve, E., ‘La région palatiale de Thessalonique’ in Acta Congressus Madvigiana i (Copenhagen, 1958) 353–65, where earlier bibliography.

9 Laodicea, , ‘Le plan de Laodicée-sur-Mer’ in Bulletin ďétudes orientales iv (1934) 81114. Beroea, , ‘Ľenceinte primitive de la ville ďAlep’ in Mélanges de ľInstitut français de Damas i (1929) 133–59 and Alep, Essai sur le développement ďune grande ville syrienne, des origines au milieu du XIXe siècle (Paris, 1941). Damascus, , ‘Le plan antique de Damas’ in Syria xxvi (1949) 314–58.

10 Acts ix 10.

11 Tafrali, O., Topographie de Thessalonique (Paris, 1913) 95110.

12 Soteriou, G. and M., Ἡ Βασιλική τοῦ Ἁγίου Δημητρίου Θεσσαλονίκης (Athens, 1952) 35 and 85, 34, fig. 1; BHC lxxxiv (1960) 89, fig. 1; Praktika 1959. 38 and 39, fig. 1.

13 BCH xlv (1921) 541; ADelt xviii (1963) Chron., 19 6–9; xix (1964) Chron., 329–31; xxii (1967) Chron., 379–91; xxiii (1968) Chron., 328–30; BCH 1xxxix (1965) 801–4.

14 Op. cit. 480, rightly criticised by Castagnoli, op. cit. 77, n. 20, and by Theocharides, G., Τοπογραφία καὶ πολιτικὴ ἱστορία τῆς Θεσσαλονίκης κατὰ τὸν ΙΔ′ αἰῶνα (Thessaloniki, 1959) 12.

15 Strabo vii, frag. 21 (although Martin, loc. cit., attributes the planning of Thessaloniki to Lysimachus but with little justification).

16 In 'Towards a reconstruction of the town planning of Roman Thessaloniki, in Proceedings of the 1st International Symposium ‘Ancient Macedonia’, Thessaloniki, 1968 (Thessaloniki, 1970) 239–251 (cited below as Ancient Macedonia).

17 Best summarised by Lauffray, J., ‘Ľurbanisme antique en proche orient’ in Acta Congressus Madvigiani iv (Copenhagen, 1958) 726. Cf. Seyrig, H., ‘Seleucus I and the foundation of Hellenistic Syria’, in Ward, W. A. (ed.), The Rôle of the Phoenicians in the Interaction of Mediterranean Civilisations (Beirut, 1968) 5363.

18 Downey, G., A History of Antioch in Syria (Princeton, 1961) 6873.

19 Olynthus viii, 36, pl. 109.

20 Petsas, Ph. M., ‘Ten years at Pella’ in Archaeology xvii (1964) plan, p. 76, reproduced in Bellido, A. Garcia y, Urbanistica de las grandes ciudades del mundo antiquo (Madrid, 1966) 84, fig. 50, and by Kirsten, E. and Kraiker, W., Griechenlandkunde 5 ii (Heidelberg, 1967) 612, fig. 163a.

21 Excavations at Dura Europos, Ninth Season 1935–6 i, 24, plan, fig. 12.

22 Laodicea, Sauvaget, , Bulletin ďétudes orientales iv (1934) 94. Damascus, id., Syria xxvi (1949) 343. Beroea, id., Alep 40, cf. 41, fig. 13. Seleucia on the Tigris, founded in the second century B.C., is now known to have had insulae of 144·70 m. × 72·35 m., in the proportions of exactly 2:1 (Gullini, G., ‘Un contributo alla storia delľurbanistica: Seleucia sul Tigri’ in Mesopotamia ii [1967] 141, figs 284–6), and much the same proportions are to be found at Apamea in Syria, where the insulae measure 110 m. × 55m. (Balty, J. and Balty, J. Ch., ‘Le cadre topographique et historique’ in J. Balty [ed.], ‘Apamée de Syrie, bilan des recherches archéologiques 19651968’ in Fouilles ď Apamée de Syrie, Misc. Fasc. 6 [Brussels, 1969] 33 [hereafter, Apamée de Syrie]).

23 Martin, op. cit. 175.

24 Just., Dig. xliii 8, 10 and 11. Cf. Liebenam, W., Städteverwattung im römischen Kaiserreiche (Leipzig, 1900) 402. I am grateful to Professor John Kelly for these references.

25 Cf. Sauvaget's remarks in connection with the plan of Aleppo: ‘il se sera perpétué jusqu'à nos jours avec une fidelité rélative du fait que, pour profiter des fondations déjà assises, les habitants ont eu la tendence à maintenir sur les mêmes emplacements les murs extérieurs de leurs maisons’ (Alep 40).

26 E.g., Anonymus Vaticanus i (= Migne, PG cxvi 1180); Cameniates, J., De excidio Thessalonicensi narratio anno 904, ed. Bonn, , 544; Eustathius, , De Thessalonica a Latinis capta narratio, ed. Bonn, , 451.

27 Dated prosopographically by Edson, C. F.. The relevant inscription will be discussed in IG x 1.

28 ĽAbbé Bayet, , ‘Mémoire sur une mission au Mont Athos’ in Bibliothèque des écoles françaises ďAthènes et Rome lxxxvi (Paris, 1876) 78.

29 E.g., Beaujour, F. de, Tableau du commerce de la Grèce (Paris, 1800) 32–3; Cousinéry, E. M., Voyage dans la Macédoine i (Paris, 1831) 25–7, pl. 3 (reproduced in Letsas, A., Ἰστορία τῆς Θεσσαλονίκης i [Thessaloniki, 1961] 125, fig. 63); Heuzey, L. and Daumet, H., Mission archéologique de Macédoine (Paris, 1876) 272, pl. 22 bis. The latter illustration is reproduced in Tafrali, op. cit. 105, fig. 10, and in Letsas, op. cit. 124, fig. 62.

30 Guerrini, L., ‘“Las Incantadas” di Salonicco’ in Archeologia classica xiii (1961) 68–9, pl. 28, 2; Theocharides, op. cit. 16–17.

31 The sculpture from the Incantadas was removed to the Louvre in 1864, Guerrini, op. cit. 40–70, pls 13–28. Cf. Baker, J.: ‘On the left of the main street, and in a side alley there are four Corinthian columns…’ Turkey in Europe, 3rd edn (London, 1877) 405.

32 For details of the relationship between the Arch and the street, see Hébrard, E., ‘Les travaux du service archéologique de ľArmée ďOrient à ľArc de Triomphe “de Galere” et à ľéglise Saint-Georges de Salonique’ in BCH xliv (1920) 9, fig. 3. Diocletian is thought to have attended the dedication of the Arch on his way west from Nicomedia to Rome in c. 303 (Seston, W., Dioclétien et la Tétrarchie i [Paris, 1946] 392 and Sutherland, C. H. V., RIC vi, 501).

33 J. Cameniates, op. cit. 500; Palamas, G., Homily xliii (= Migne, PG cli 544).

34 Theocharides, op. cit. 11.

35 Theocharides, loc. cit.; Vacalopoulos, A., A History of Thessaloniki (Thessaloniki, 1963) 16.

36 Dunand, M. and Duru, R., Oumm el Ἀmed, une ville de ľépoque hellénistique aux échelles de Tyre (Paris, 1962) plan, fig. 89.

37 As remarked by J., and Balty, J. Ch., Apamée de Syrie 34, n. 1.

38 Gullini, op. cit. figs 284–5.

39 Graziosi, G., ‘Excavations in squares clxxi, 54/55/56/64/65/66 (Porticoed Street)’ in Mesopotamia iii–iv (19681969) 4352.

40 Mertens, J., ‘Sondages dans la grande colonnade et sur ľenceinte’ in Apamée de Syrie 61–8.

41 Lassus, J., ‘Antioche, fouilles profondes 1934–1938’ in CRAI, 1967, 4575; ‘Les portiques ďAntioche’ in Antioch-on-the-Orontes v, by the same author, was announced as being in the press in 1969 (J. and J. Ch. Balty, loc. cit.).

42 For other examples of second-century building activity see Ancient Macedonia 249–51. A slight indication that little was done by the Romans to develop Macedonia until the second century are the Trajanic milestones set up on the Via Egnatia,‘longa intermissione neglectam’. (Collart, P., ‘Une refection de la via Egnatia sous Trajan’ in BCH lix [1935] 395415). I am grateful to Professor Edson for pointing this out to me.

43 See note 13 and Ancient Macedonia, loc. cit. What appears to have been an agora, with a bouleuterion, has been observed at Seleucia on the Tigris, occupying the space of ten insulae (5 × 2) (Gullini, op. cit. 148–50, figs 284–6), but despite investigation, the date and function of this area is not yet certain (Ponzi, M. Negro, ‘Excavations in Squares x6/xx96 “Agora”’ in Mesopotamia iii–iv [19681969] 53–5).

44 Edson, C. F., Inscriptions Graecae x, fasc. 1 (forthcoming), No. 5. Found in a house on Odos Olympou, ADelt ix (1924–25) 121, BCH xlix (1924) 498.

45 Martin, R., Recherches sur ľAgora grecque (Paris, 1951) 513–14.

46 ADelt xxii (1967) Chron., 386; xxiii (1968) Chron., 325, pl. 280a; Makedonika ix (1969) 150, pl. 47.

47 ADelt xxii (1967) Chron., 387, pl. 291 b–c; Makedonika ix (1969) 150.

48 Schede, M., Die Ruinen von Priene 2 (Berlin, 1964) plan.

49 Pol. vii 11· 2.

49a Cf. Wycherley, R. E., How the Greeks built Cities 2 (London, 1962) 11, 53, 69.

50 See ‘Byzantine Sea Walls’ fig. 6.

51 Zachariae, E., Reise in der Orient in den Jahren 1837 und 1838 (Heidelberg, 1840) 190, and BCH xliv (1920) 403.

52 BCH lxxxi (1958) 759.

53 BCH lxiii (1939) 315; AA 1940, 265–6, 261–2, figs 71–3; Makedonika i (1940) 476, 474, fig. 8. For the restored Augustus statue see BCH lxxvii (1954) 139, fig. 36, Makedonika ix (1969) pl. 1 and Rüsch, A., Jdl lxxxiv (1969) 68, 131–3 (P38).

54 As suggested in BCH lxxxi (1958) 759.

55 Bakalakis, G., ‘Therme-Thessalonike’ in Antike Kunst, Beih. i (1963) 3034. For a view of all the fragments of the archaic temple found so far see Makedonika ix (1969) pl. 16.

56 By Professor Bakalakis.

57 Hdt. vii 124, 128 and 183.

58 Lauffray, op. cit. 18–19, whence Martin, , L'Urbanisme 175. See now, Dunand and Duru, op. cit. fig. 89. Cf. the ‘area sacra’ which occupies the space of ten insulae (5 × 2) at Seleucia on the Tigris (Gullini, op. cit. 148–9, figs. 284–6).

59 BCH xlv (1921) 540 and xlviii (1924) 497. von Schoenebeck, op. cit. 481, fig. 1, locates the Serapeum incorrectly; for the correct position see BCH xlv, 539, fig. 13.

60 Hébrard, whose report is quoted loc cit., calls the later walls Byzantine, but that is impossible. Dr Laubscher kindly informs me that von Schoenebeck's notebooks indicate that he dated these walls to the Tetrarchic period on the basis of the style of the brickwork.

61 Makedonika i (1940) 464; AA 1940, 263. The Serapeum and the finds are now discussed by Salditt-Trappmann, R., Tempel der ägyptischen Götter in Griechenland und an der wesküste Kleinasiens (Leiden, 1970) 4752, pls. 22–4.

62 Pelekides, S., ‘Ἀπò τὴν πολιτεία καὶ κοινωνία τῆς ἀρχαίας Θεσσαλονίκης‘ in Ἐπιστημονικὴ Ἐπετηρὶς τῆς Φιλοσοφικῆς Σχολῆς Πανεπιστημίον Θεσσαλονίκης ii (1934) supplement, 4, but they will be included in the forthcoming IG x 1.

63 Pelekides, op. cit. 5–23; Vidman, L., Sylloge inscriptionum religionis Isiacae et Sarapiacae (Berlin, 1969) 48–9; IG x 1, No. 3 (forthcoming).

64 Opuscula Atheniensia iii (1960) 39.

65 Xyngopoullos, A., Συμβολαὶ εἰς τὴν τοπογραφΐαν τῆς βυζαντινῆς Θεσσαλονίκης (Thessaloniki, 1949) 2348; G. and M. Soteriou, op. cit. 34–7. The Byzantine sources are discussed in: Vickers, M., ‘The stadium at Thessaloniki’ in Byzantion xli (1971) (forthcoming).

66 The gymnasium inscription = IG x 1, No. 4; all three inscriptions are published by Makaronas, , ‘Ἀπò τὰς ỏργανωσεcῑς τcῶν νέων ἀρχαίας Θεσσαλονίκης’ in ΕΕΦΣΠΘ (see n. 62) vi (1948) 293308.

67 Cf. Wycherley, op. cit. 156.

68 xxxii 15. 2: Κατὰ μέσην τὴν ἐξέδραν τὴν ἐν τῷ περιστύλῳ κατά τὴν αὐλήν. I am grateful to Professor Edson for this reference.

69 Fyfe, T., Hellenistic Architecture (London, 1936) 86 ff.

70 IG xi 665. Discussed by Durrbach, F., ‘Décrets du IIIe et du IIe siècles trouvés à Délos’ in BCH x (1886) 124133.

71 Unless the statue described by Clarke, E. was Hellenistic: ‘Towards the west, opposite to a small monastery of dervishes, is a tower called NamasiaKoulé; it has been thus denominated in consequence of the colossal Torso of a female statue, said to be that of the sister of Alexander the Great, daughter of Philip Amyntas, and wife of Cassander, from whom the city received its name. The remarkable tradition certainly entitles this Torso to some consideration. At the feet of the figure is represented the stern of a ship.’ (Travels in various countries of Europe, Asia and Africa, 4th edition, vii [London, 1818] 448–9). The reference to a representation of a ship reminds us of such Hellenistic naval victory monuments as the Nike of Samothrace (Lehmann, K., Samothrace, a guide to the excavations and the museum, 3rd edition [Locust Valley, 1966] 21, fig. 6) or the Athena Nike set up in the Agora at Cyrene (Stucchi, S., ‘Cirene, 1957–1966’ in Quaderni delľIstituto Italiano di Cultura di Tripoli iii [1967] 8493, figs. 61–71). Cf. Jacob-Felsch, M., Die Entwicklung griechischer Statuenbasen und die Aufstellung der Statuen (Waldsassen, 1969) 96–7 and Ridgway, B. S., ‘The setting of Greek sculpture’ in Hesperia xl (1971) 353–4. Alternatively, as Dr Laubscher points out to me, it might have been a statue of the Tyche of Thessaloniki, like those of the city goddesses of the coastal cities of Syria and Palestine; cf. Schweitzer, B., ‘Dea Nemesis Regina,’ in JdI xlvi (1931) 220 ff.

72 For the mid-fifth century date of these walls see my ‘The date of the walls of Thessalonica’ in Istanbul Arkeoloji Müzeleri Yilligi xv–xvi (1969) 313–318 and my further remarks in the forthcoming Proceedings of the 8th International Congress of Roman Frontier Studies.

73 Op. cit. 71–2, pls. 6, 1 and 7, 1, but not pl. 6, 2.

74 Op. cit. pl. 6, 2.

75 Makedonika ix (1969) 154.

76 ADelt viii (1923) 259–65; xxiii (1968) Chron., 337–8, pl. 283 a–c; BCH xcii (1968) 898; Makedonika ix (1969) 176, pls 80 a–b, 81 a; Petsas, Ph. in ‘Αἰγαὶ-Πέλλα-Θεσσαλονίκη’ in Ancient Macedonia, 203–19. Pls. 41–9.

77 Collart, P., Philippes, ville de Macédoine (Paris, 1937) 168–72, pls. 24 and 25; CRAI 1937, 182: ‘Le tracé de la muraille médiévale est presque partout le même que celui du rempart grec.’

78 Tafrali, op. cit. 145–6, plan.

79 CRAI 1918, 16–17; BSA xxiii (1918–19) 38. Ferran, 's report was announced (BCH xlviii [1924] 497, n. 3) as forthcoming in Albania i (1925), but it does not seem ever to have appeared.

80 Heuzey and Daumet, op. cit. 50–1.

81 Frézouls, E., ‘Recherches historiques et archéologiques sur la ville de Cyrrhus,’ in Annales archéologiques de Syrie iv–v (19541955) 121, pl. 1; plan reproduced in EAA iv s.v. Kyrros, , and in Frézouls, ‘Ľexploration archéologique de Cyrrhus’ in Apamée de Syrie, 87, fig. 2.

82 Bikerman, E., Institutions des Séleucides (Paris, 1938) 54.

83 Chapot, V., La frontière de ľEuphrate (Paris, 1907) 305 (Carrhae) and 270 (Samosata).

84 Antioch: G. Downey, op. cit. 71. Seleucia Pieria: PW II A, 1, s.v. Seleukia Pieria, 1193–4. Apamea: Apamée de Syrie, plan. Laodicea: Sauvaget, , Bulletin ďétudes orientales iv (1934) 98, 103, 104, fig. 10, pl. 26 b. Beroea: id., Alep 42–5. Arethusa: ibid. 43, fig. 14 and 44, n. 95. Cyrrhus: see n. 63. Chalcis: Mouterde, R. and Poidebard, A., Le Limes de Chalcis (Paris, 1945) 8. Dura: Excavations at Dura Europas, Ninth Season 1935–6 i, fig. 12.

85 CRAI 1965, 42 and plan opposite p. 44; BCH lxxxix (1965) 593–7.

86 Petsas, Ph., ‘Ο τάφος τῶν Λενκαδίων (Athens, 1966); for a brief survey of ‘Macedonian’ tombs in general, see Kurtz, D. C. and Boardman, J., Greek Burial Customs (London, 1971) 273 ff.

87 BSA xxiii (1918–19) 6; BCH xliv (1920) 402; AA 1942, 160; BCH lxiv–lxv (1940–41) 250; AA 1943, 321–2; JHS lxiv (1944) 92; Makedonika ii (1941–52) 599–600.

88 JHS lxiv (1944) 92; Makedonika ii (1941–52) 601, pl. 8 (pelike); figs 5, p. 603, and 6, p. 605 need to be transposed.

89 BCH lxxxii (1958) 758, figs 6 and 7, 759, fig. 8; JHS lxxviii (1958) 13.

90 BCH lxxix (1955) 272.

91 BCH lxxiii (1949) 531; Makedonika ii (1941–52) 602.

92 BCH lxxxiii (1959) 706–7, figs 25–6; JHS. Arch. Reports 1958, 13 (fig. 15); Higgins, R. A., Greek and Roman Jewellery (London, 1961) 166, 172.

93 AA 1939, 256; BCH lxiii (1939) 314, fig. 27, 315; AA 1940,268.

94 Hausmann, U., Griechische Weihreliefs (Berlin, 1960) 84, fig. 49; Robert, J. and L., Bull. ép., 1962, 168, No. 180.

95 Livy xliv 10. Cf. Hartleben, K. Lehmann, ‘Die antiken Hafenanlagen des Mittelmeeres’ in Klio, Beih. xiv (1923) 285.

96 καὶ τòν ἐν ταύτη λιμένα, πρότερον οὐκ ὄντα, κατασκευάσας, Hist. ii 22. For the date of Zosimus, see Cameron, A., Philologus cxiii (1969) 106–10.

97 Thessaloniki, un petit guide (Thessaloniki, 1953), cited by Petsas, Ph. in Makedonika ix (1969) 154.

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