Archaeological site of Philippi
© Region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace
The archaeological site of Philippi is located at the northwest side of the Prefecture of Kavala between the mountain ranges of Mount Paggaion and Orbelos.
In 360/59 BC, Thasian colonists founded the city of Krenides in the valley of Datos, 16 km to the north of the city of Kavala and 2 km to the northwest of the prehistoric settlement of Dikili Tas, or “Large Jar”. The settlement bears signs of habitation from the Lower Neolithic Age (6500 – 5000 BC) until the Iron Age (1050 – 700 BC), when it was deserted.
Philip II of Macedon (386 – 336 BC), realizing the strategic and economic potential of this area conquered the city in 400 BC, established a Macedonian colony, fortified it and renamed it Philippi. The fortification walls and the theatre were constructed under the Macedonian reign; a large part of the plain was drained, the exploitation of the mines was intensified and the first royal mint was founded.
In the passage of the centuries, Philippi gradually lost importance and turned into a small town in the Roman times (30 BC – 324 AD). After the battle of Philippi, in 42 BC, when the Roman Caesars Augustus and Anthony defeated Brutus and Cassius, the victors founded a Roman colony (Colonia Augusta Julia Philippensis). The Roman Agora (forum) was constructed during this period and, further south, the commercial market. The paleastra with the Vespasians (latrines) was revealed near the commercial market along with a complex of public bathhouses, or thermae, to the southeast.
Apostle Paul visited Philippi in 49/50 AD and founded here the first Christian church in Europe. After the prevalence of the new religion, the city became a place of pilgrimage for the Christian worship and monumental Christian churches were built on the site of the earlier Roman and late Roman complexes. The metropolitan church, known as the Octagon was founded at the southern side of the Roman Agora in 400 AD and was dedicated to Apostle Paul. The font, the church’s baptistery and the episkopeion were revealed north of the Octagon, while three large Early Christian basilicas of the 5th and the 6th centuries AD were discovered in the city.
A strong earthquake devastated the city in the late 6th and the 7th centuries AD; the reorganization began in the 9th/10th centuries along with the reinforcement of its walls and the erection of its acropolis. After the expansion of the Ottomans in the area, in the late 14th century, the city was abandoned and in later times (15th – 19th centuries) it was left completely in ruins.
The excavation works at the site of Philippi began in the late 18th century under the direction of the French archaeologist GL. Heuzey and the French architect H. Daumet. In 1914, the French Archaeological School at Athens conducted systematic survey that continued uninterruptedly until 1937. To date, the excavations and the scientific investigation of the site of Philippi are conducted by the French Archaeological School at Athens, the 18th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities and the Faculty of History and Archaeology of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.