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A Macedonian city, smaller than ancient Pella, with walls, cemeteries and ancient treasures was unearthed by archaeologists in the region of  Nea Apollonia, near Thessaloniki. The city was found in the same region where last August a farmer had discovered a unique golden chaplet that was delivered to the responsible authorities.

The city is smaller in size than ancient Pella and it was built at a passage linking Macedonia with Thrace and Chalkidiki.

Based on the findings that were unearthed, the region was continuously populated from the bronze era until the Byzantine times.


Ancient Macedonian wreath found accidentally in a field in northern Greece raises speculation for further findings in the area





A farmer near the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki stumbled across a major archaeological treasure in late July: while working in his field in Nea Apollonia, he accidentally dug up a golden wreath. A few days later, he handed the Greek Archaeological Service the rare specimen. Following scientific examination, it was announced that the golden wreath - consisting of thirty 30 ivy leaves poised on an 18.5-centimetre diameter and weighing more than 500 grams - dates back to around 350 B.C. at the time of the Macedonian king Alexander the Great. It is only the third of its kind to have been recovered.

The wreath's archaeological and artistic value are immeasurable. What's more, archaeologists tend to associate such objects with the decoration of graves and tombs. And if the location, where the wreath was found, is the original site of a tomb, the Service believes that further findings can be expected. This viewpoint was reinforced the morning after the handing of the wreath, when archaeologists visited the field: in the same area, a marble bust of a woman - probably Nike of Samothrace (the Winged Victory) - was unearthed, though this find dates back to the subsequent Hellenistic period.

The archaeologists' view
Referring to the discovery, Professor of Archaeology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Ms Chryssoula Satsoglou-Paliadeli, said: "We dont know this area very well, but if the wreath has not been moved from its original position, then somewhere nearby we should find an ancient graveyard or a settlement dating back to the 4th century B.C."

The director of the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki - which houses one of the other two similar wreaths found to date - Ms Chryssanthi Koukouli, shares the optimism: "If the location is correct, then there must be the tomb of a wealthy and influential Macedonian citizen of the antiquity. These wreaths were used during religious ceremonies and celebrations and were later put in graves as a donation to the dead."

To ancient Greeks, ivy leaves, which blossom in the springtime and die during the winter, were a symbol of god Dionysos (or Dionysus). Dionysos - who, according to ancient Greek mythology, was cut to pieces by the Titans, upon Heras orders, and was eventually saved by Athena, who offered his heart to Zeus, who, in his turn, swallowed it thus securing Dionysos' return to life - was the patron of wine, revelry and theatre.

The Ministry of Culture, responsible for the use, exhibition and preservation of archaeological findings and sites, issued a statement noting that the wreath, dating to the second half of the 4th century B.C, is an extremely well-preserved example of the period's goldsmiths. Ministry officials have also pledged to further investigate the site, as many archaeologists believe that it is on the route Alexander the Great used when travelling eastward.




Farmer unearths ancient city

October 12, 2000
Web posted at: 5:17 AM EDT (0917 GMT)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- A farmer's plow has unearthed a rare opportunity: insights into 1,000 years of life at a previously undiscovered ancient city, archeologists said.

The ancient town, still known today by the name of Apollonia, was found under a series of fields last month after a farmer discovered a golden wreath buried in the ground.

Located about 46 km (29 miles) east of the northern port city of Thessaloniki, archaeologists said the town has already turned up some significant and well-preserved finds in just over a month of digging.

"A city is important from its walls. When it has such well-built walls and such a big expanse, it means it is a very important city," Polyxeni Veleni, the head archaeologist at the ancient city's excavation, said.

It was inhabited from 400 B.C. to the 8th century, she said, and provides a slice of life from an era dating back to the Peloponnesian wars and Periclean Athens, to the middle years of the Byzantine empire.

Apollonia itself has not been excavated yet, Veleni said, but "it's a huge city for that period."

She said the city could have housed up to "10,000 people. To understand what I am saying, classical Athens had 10,000 people. Its a kind of measurement to understand the importance of the city."

Veleni said its first Apollonian inhabitants apparently were refugees from the nearby Chalkidiki peninsula, who fled the area when they were threatened by Athenian warships fighting skirmishes during the Peloponnesian war.

It flourished during the reign of Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great, and later because of its proximity to the Egnatia Way -- an 800 km (500 miles)-long road that ran from modern-day Albania to Turkey. Built by the Romans in the 2nd century B.C., the Egnatia was an extension of the Appian Way.

It was not yet known why the ancient city died out.

So far a portion of the east and north fortifying walls of the city have been excavated along with four towers that date to the 5th century B.C., while a fifth tower was found and will soon be dug up.

"It is very important to find walls of the 5th century in Macedonia ... It's from the time of Philip II," Veleni said, adding similar structures had been found in Macedonia "only in two other occasions."

Veleni and her crew have also found 16 cist graves -- or graves made of stone slabs -- and a Macedonian grave. Also uncovered were two 5th century B.C. kilns, where pottery and terracotta where produced.

Archaeologists began excavations after farmer Andreas Gaitatzis found a 2,350-year-old solid gold wreath while plowing his field.

The third of its kind ever unearthed in Greece, the ornament had a diameter of 18.5 cm (7.3 inches).

It consisted of 30 individual leaves of ivy and two bunches of berries weighing a total of more than half a kilogram (one pound). Wreaths depicting ivy or vine leaves were often used in ceremonies honouring the god Dionysus, experts say. While many paintings and decorations depict such wreaths, few have been found.

Copyright 2000 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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