Amphipolis

AMPHIPOLIS (ăm-fip'ō-lĭs, Gr. Amphipolis, a city pressed on all sides ). A city of Macedonia, situated on a bend of the River Strymon. It was founded by the Athenians in the fifth century b.c. and under the Romans it became the capital of one of the four districts into which Macedonia was divided. It was a military post on the Via Egnatia, thirty-three miles (fifty-five km.) SW of Philippi. Paul passed through it on the way from Philippi to Thessalonica (Acts.17.1).


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AMPHIPOLIS ăm fĭ pə’ lĭs (̓Αμφίπολις, G315). A city and trading center of Thrace. Originally it was a Thracian town known as ̓Εννἐα ὁδοί (nine roads) located on the E bank of the Strymon River (modern Struma or Karasu) where it emerged from Lake Cercinitis about three m. from the sea. Its seaport, Eion, was located at the mouth of the river. According to some it was called Amphipolis because it was almost completely surrounded by a bend in the river. The site was a terraced hill which was protected on the NW and S by the river and elsewhere by a wall. The name may be derived from the fact that it was conspicuous on all sides, as Thucydides notes.

It was settled in 436 b.c. by Athenian colonists under Hagnon after previous attempts in 497, 476 and 465 had failed. In 424 b.c. it surrendered to the Spartan general, Brasidas, because of the negligence of the historian Thucydides, who was with a fleet at the island of Thasos nearby. It was to be restored to Athens by the peace of Nicias in 421, but remained independent until it was occupied by Philip of Macedon in 357.

The region was economically important for two reasons. The fertile land nearby yielded excellent wine, oil and wood. Fine wool was also produced. Silver and gold were mined in the area. The town was strategically important to the Romans, because of its situation. It commanded a bridge over the Strymon and the main road, the Via Egnatia, across Macedonia from Dyrrachium, the seaport in Epirus connecting Italy and Greece in ancient times, to the Hellespont. It was thirty-three m. S of Philippi. Under the Romans it was recognized as a free town though it was the residence of the Rom. governor of Macedonia.

Paul traveled through it on the way from Philippi to Thessalonica, evidently without preaching there (Acts 17:1).

It was known as Popolia in the Middle Ages. The village of Neochori (Turkish, Yeni Keui) now occupies the site. Numerous inscrs. and coins have been found. Portions of the ancient fortification walls and of a Rom. aqueduct still survive.

Bibliography

G. Hirshfeld in Pauly-Wissowa RE s.v. “Amphipolis.”

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

A town in Macedonia, situated on the eastern bank of the Strymon (modern Struma or Karasu) some three miles from its mouth, near the point where it flows out of Lake Prasias or Cercinitis. It lay on a terraced hill, protected on the North, West and South by the river, on the East by a wall (Thuc. iv.102), while its harbor-town of Eion lay on the coast close to the river’s mouth. The name is derived either from its being nearly surrounded by the stream or from its being conspicuous on every side, a fact to which Thucydides draws attention (in the place cited). It was at first called Ennea Hodoi, Nine Ways, a name which suggests its importance both strategically and commercially. It guarded the main route from Thrace into Macedonia and later became an important station on the Via Egnatia, the great Roman road from Dyrrhachium on the Adriatic to the Hebrus (Maritza), and it was the center of a fertile district producing wine, oil, figs and timber in abundance and enriched by gold and silver mines and considerable manufactures, especially of woolen stuffs. In 497 BC Aristagoras, ex- despot of Miletus, tried to settle there, and a second vain attempt was made in 465-464 by the Athenians, who succeeded in founding a colony there in 437 under the leadership of Hagnon. The population, however, was too mixed to allow of strong Athenian sympathies, and in 424 the town fell away to the Spartan leader Brasidas and defied all the subsequent attempts of the Athenians to recover it. It passed under the protectorate of Perdiccas and Philip of Macedon, and the latter finally made himself master of it in 358. On the Roman partition of Macedonia after the battle of Pydna (168 BC) Amphipolis was made a free city and capital of Macedonia Prima. Paul and Silas passed through it on their way from Philippi to Thessalonica, but the narrative seems to preclude a long stay (Ac 17:1). The place was called Popolia in the nodetitle, while in modern times the village of Neochori (Turkish, Yenikeui) marks the site (Leake, Northern Greece, III, 181 ff, Cousinery, Macedoine, I, 100 ff, 122 ff; Heuzey et Daumet, Mission archeol. de Macedoine, 165 ff).

Marcus N. Tod