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   Biblical Sites in Greece

    Amphipolis


Acts 17:1

 

St. Paul passed by the supply-city of Amphipolis on his second journey on his way to Thessalonica from Philippi. Some scholars suggest that St. Paul lodged overnight there, as part of a three-stage journey from Philippi to Thessalonica, but the text is not specific on this point. There is no record of his preaching there, and little tradition of a community of believers from the apostolic ministry. It is likely the city was not evangelized until a generation after St. Paul, but nevertheless became an important Byzantine Christian site.

Amphipolis was already one of the most important cities in ancient Macedonia. One ancient historian reported it was founded by the Athenian General Hagnon, son of Nicias, in about 436 BCE near a village called Ennea Hodoi. Thucydides also (History, 4:102) claims that Hagnon gave the city its name because "It was surrounded by the river Strymon which nearly encircled it." Amphipolis may be translated a city pressed on all sides. It grew as an important trading center with Thrace and the village of Ennea probably became its port - though renamed Eion.

In the following century the city became independent but was soon taken up by Philip of Macedon as he expanded his power grip on Macedonia before moving south to control all of Greece in the fourth century BCE. After the battle of Pydna (168 BCE) the Romans took possession of the city, and made it the capital of Macedonia prima, the first of the four administrative districts of the Roman Macedonian Province. The four districts were later broken up, as the system was deemed over organized and inefficient.

Under Roman rule during the time of St. Paul, it was a largely independent city and emerged as the home of the Roman governor of all Macedonia. It was located on the important Egnatian roadway some 53 km. southwest of Philippi (between Philippi and Thessalonica). That road connected the Adriatic passage to Italy to the Hellespont and Asia.

Though not among the first of the cities in the region to receive the Christian message, the city became the seat of the Bishop during the Byzantine times. This fact is attested in both the literature of the period before 692 CE and the archaeological evidence of four Christian basilicas found at the site. The proximity to the Pangean mines meant that Amphipolis became a trading center for silver and gold, but also had access to fine wool trades. The land itself was rich and produced oil and wine and wood.

 

 
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