Kolonna promontory (site of ancient city) from S, Aegina City

General view of site, from SE, Aegina City

Kolonna promontory (site of ancient city) from SE, Aegina City

General view of site, from W, Aegina City

Ruins of fortifications to E of temple, from E, Aegina City

Temple of Apollo and later fortifications, from SE, Aegina City

Summary: Capital city of the island of Aegina.
Type: Fortified city
Region: Saronic Gulf


Periods:

Neolithic

Early Bronze Age

Middle Bronze Age

Late Bronze Age

Dark Age

Geometric

Archaic

Classical

Hellenistic

Roman

Byzantine

Modern

Physical:

The ancient capital of Aegina is located on the NW coast of the island, partially under the modern town. The city had a larger commercial harbor and N of this a rectangular military harbor. The latter was protected on the N by a low promontory which served as the acropolis. The Classical city walls enclosed both harbors and the acropolis promontory.

On the promontory beneath the levels of the ca. 500 B.C. temple of Apollo and the remains of an earlier temple, excavations have uncovered levels of continuous occupation extending back through the Bronze Ages to the Neolithic. The successive settlements on the acropolis were each fortified, at least since the Early Bronze Age. The 6th century temple of Apollo was replaced by a late Roman fortress.

Description:

Aegina is located in a key maritime position and since prehistoric times has had close trade contact with the mainland and the islands. It may have been depopulated in the Dark Ages and then resettled by colonists from the Peloponnese in the 10th century B.C. By the end of the 8th century, however, Aegina was independent of any mainland ties. During the 7th and 6th centuries, Aegina was a major maritime power and had trade contacts from Egypt to Spain. The island was especially noted for its fine pottery and bronze products. Aegina was apparently the first Greek city state to adopt coinage and its system of weights became one of the earliest standards for trade in the Greek historical period.

During the 6th century B.C. the growing power of Athens came into conflict with the interests of Aegina. Although Aegina fought along side the Greeks at Salamis, conflict with Athens continued and in 458 B.C. Athens defeated the combined navies of Aegina and Corinth. In 431 B.C. Athens expelled the inhabitants of Aegina and established an Athenian cleruchy on their territory. In 404 B.C. the remaining Aegina citizens returned from exile, but the city was no longer a major power. Aegina came under Macedonian control and finally in 210 B.C. it passed to the rule of Pergamon.

Exploration:

Excavations: 1894, B. Stais; 1901, Thiersch; 1904, Keramopoullis. German excavations directed by P. Wolters 1924-1926; by G. Welter 1926-1931, 1941-43; and by H. Walter 1966-1972.

Sources Used:

PECS, 20; Barber 1988, 245; Welter 1938; Leekley and Noyes 1975, 10

Other Bibliography:

W.W. Wurster, Alt-├Ągina (1974) Vol. 1, 1 (Mainz). Primary excavation reports: ArchEph (1985) 235ff; ArchEph (1910) 177ff; Gnomon (1925) 46ff; AA (1925) 1ff; AA (1937) 19ff.