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Culture Archaeology Archaeological Sights Settlements Eastern Macedonia and Thrace Prefecture of Rodopi Municipality of Aigiros

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Aikaterinh Balla
Source: C.E.T.I.
© Region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace
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The ancient city of Dikaia is believed to be situated at a small distance SE of the modern village of Porto Lagos and NW of the village of Fanari, very close to the mouth of the Vistonida lake. Dikaia was a colony of Samos, founded in the 6th century BC.

The identification of the city is based on ancient topographic references, though not confirmed by any epigraphic finds. Describing Xerxes campaign against Greece in 480 BC, Herodotus mentioned that Maroneia was located east of Dikaia, west of Abdera and very close to lake Bistonis. Pseudo-Scylax places it almost at the same place, although Strabo claimed that the city was built in a bay just over Vistonida lake. Archaeological evidence found in the area led G. Bakalakis to conclude that Dikaia was situated in this area. Now most scholars agree with his theory.

According to Stephanos Byzantios, Dikaia was founded by Dicaeus, son of Poseidon, while Strabo mentions that in the area of Dikaia Hercules eliminated the man-eating horses of Diomedes. The existence of the city during the 6th century BC, already being independent, is verified by the coins dating from the late 6th century to the first quarter of the 5th century BC. The city of Dikaia is also cited in the Athenian fiscal records from 454/453 BC to 432/431 BC. From that time on through the Roman period, there is no testimony concerning the city of Dikaia. The existence of the city during the late Roman times is testified by Pseudo-Scylax, Strabo, Plinius and Stephanos Byzantios. The last reference to the city of Dikaia appeared in the 6th century AD, while other later writers refer to a city named Dikaiopolis near Abdera.

Geographically, the city was situated near a big and safe harbour. Coins were found in remote areas, like Egypt and pottery was imported from Attica, Corinth and Rhodes. All the above indicate that the city was an important commercial centre in the area.

The coins of Dikaia date from the late 6th to the first quarter of the 5th centuries. Coinage seems to cease by the time the Persians left the area and the city became member of the Athenian League. Most coins depict the head of Hercules with a lion skin on the obverse, while the reverse is modelled in a curve-sided square or sometimes depicts a bulls head. Other coins bear the representation of a bull on the obverse and an octopus on the reverse with the inscription . The size of its ruins and the low contribution paid to the Athenian League lead to the assumption that Dikaia was a rather small city of about a thousand people.

Many architectural members were uncovered in the wider area of Dikaia and in neighbouring locations (Fanari, Porto Lagos) that probably originate from the city of Dikaia, especially from public buildings. Other fragments and capitals of marble Doric columns of the Hellenistic times were traced along with Ionic column bases that date to the late 6th or the early 5th centuries BC. An earthenware acroterion of the second quarter of the 5th century BC decorated in relief with helixes and palmettes was also found. Many of these finds were revealed in the surrounding area. Foundations of Hellenistic houses were found on a hill at the area as well as a mortar floor and fragmentized Corinthian-type tiles.

Stone and clay sarcophagi were unearthed in four tombs at the area of the cemetery. A grave was found containing vessels and a headless equestrian statuette; many shaft-graves and slab-covered graves were also revealed full of burial vessels and cremations along with a great number of clay statuettes. A simple uninscribed and unadorned sema (marker) of a funerary monument was found at the east foot of the neigbouring hill. According to these finds, the tombs can be dated to the late 6th and the early 5th centuries.

A section of the walls was found on the western side of the neigbouring hill dating back to the 4th century BC and probably forming part of the city fortification.

Two parts of a funerary stele carved on both sides and made of a white coarse-grained marble were found in neigbouring locations that probably originate from Dikaia. On the obverse side a dead beardless man with a short haircut is depicted dressed in himation and facing to the right. On the reverse side his servant, also facing to the right, is depicted with a chariot resting on his shoulder and a dog behind him. The upper part of the stele ended to a lesbian cymatium, abacus and palmette of the inverted lyre type, and it is now kept in the National Archaeological Museum. The lower part of the stele is kept in the Komotini Archaeological Museum and the missing part is reproduced with a plaster cast. The stele, typical of the Ionic plastic art, dates to the 4th century BC.

Many local vessels along with important pottery from Attica, Rhodes and Corinth were uncovered at the site of the settlement. Ionic pottery sherds of shallow drinking cups, or kylixes, were traced along with black-figure Attic and Corinthian vessels, Rhodean plates and pottery sherds of black-figure painted vessels that date to the 4th century BC. A Fikelloura amphora along with a Clazomenian amphora dating to the second half of the 6th century BC, and many Attic vessels were found at the site of the cemetery. Most of the finds are on exhibit in the Komotini Archaeological Museum.