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

A group of graves from the Early Christian cemetery of the city was discovered in the area.
(Photo: Byz. Forsch. (2), pl. CVII)
A group of graves from the Early Christian cemetery of the city was discovered in the area.
(Photo: Byz. Forsch. (2), pl. CVII)

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28/11/2007
Mosynopolis-Maximianoupolis

Aikaterinh Balla
Source: C.E.T.I.
© Region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace
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The remains of Mosynopolis lie at the Thracian coastal valley west of Komotini and south of the foot of Mount Papikion, close to the village of Mischos. The city of Maximianoupolis, next to the Via Egnatia route, was probably situated at the location where Mosynopolis existed in a later period and belonged to the Rodopi province. Until the 9th century, it is known as Maximianoupolis. From that time on, it became an important centre that had a castle with “houses” and “residences”, as Grigor Bakourian records.
Justinian I (527-565) rebuilt the fortifications of the city and Basilius II used it several times as the military base of his campaigns against the Bulgarians. Maximianoupolis appears in written sources already from the 4th century, while it is also known that it was represented by bishops in the synods of the years 431, 451, 459 and 553. From the 7th until the 9th centuries, the city appears in the list with the autocephalous Archdiocese churches, which denotes it was a noteworthy Thracian centre. In 879, the city already renamed Mosynopolis, was represented by Bishop Paul in the Synod of Constantinople. From the 10th to the 12th centuries, it was a bishopric seat under the authority of the Metropolis of Traianoupolis, which as an ecclesiastical eparchy in Rodopi. In 1041, Michael IV stayed at Mosynopolis in order to fight the Bulgarian revolts and in 1083, Alexius I set up here the campaign against the Paulicians. Historic sources record that parts of the city’s land property belonged to the Monastery of Theotokos Petritzonitissa during this period. In 1210, Mosynopolis was a Latin archdiocese with a bishopric seat under the authority of Xantheia, while in 1233 a Latin bishop was assigned to the city.
The city of Mosynopolis appears very often in the Byzantine sources as a lot of emperors and other officials lived here. The city was also the scene of bloody civil conflicts during the last centuries of the Byzantine Empire. In 1204, the ex-emperor Alexius III and Alexius V Mourtzoufles met in the city, where the latter was blinded by his father-in-law. Soon after, the city was destroyed by tsar Kaloyan in 1205 or 1206. A fight between the rivals Momitzilos and Ioannes Cantacuzenus (1343, 1344) was held near the ruins of the ancient city of Mesini, close to Peritheorion and Koumoutzina (Komotini). The Patriarchate issued an order on August 1347 entitling the Metropolitan of Traianoupolis to operate in Mosynopolis. The city continued in full operation until the late 13th century. In 1433, the previously well-fortified city as well as parts of its fortification walls where completely destroyed and thus abandoned. The so-called Thema (district) of Mosynopolis appear in the sources in the late 13th century, and together with Boleron, Serres and Strymonas, it formed part of the same administrative unit.
Systematic archaeological excavations have not been carried out yet at the site of Mosynopolis. The superficial survey revealed a rectangular fortification wall having eastern and western walls about 400 m long, and northern and southern walls almost 730 m long. The wall is made of rubble stones, white mortar, fragments of plinths, and entire layers of plinths. There is a round battlement as well as rectangular and circular towers; remnants of a rampart and traces of a tomb were found at the eastern wall side.
A group of graves from the Early Christian cemetery of the city was discovered in the area. The presence of numerous graves not only indicates the importance of the city but also demonstrates that it was a noteworthy Thracian centre, already from the Early Christian times. In many of these graves as well in the wider area, clay pottery sherds were found along with pointed-bottom earthenware jars of the Byzantine period, bronze coins of the times of Constantine II that began to circulate between 335-337 and 343-348 AD, iron nails, a bronze earring and a fragment of glass-paste bracelet. A tomb inscription of the 5th–6th centuries was also found in the archaeological site of Mosynopolis as well as a metric inscription found on an 11th century marble architrave recording that a person named Constantine was the founder of the church. At the site of Yfantes, about 2 km east of Mosynopolis, three inscribed marble slabs were found along with architectural sculptures belonging to an Early Christian Basilica.
The excavation finds are now kept in the Komotini Archaeological Museum.