Rock-cut steps to acropolis, Thasos, Agora

North side of Temple of Athena, from W, Thasos, Acropolis

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Banquest relief from a Classical stele within Galaesi Fort, Thasos.

Cracked ancient block with robbed mending clamp in SW temple wall at Sanct...

Detail of house wall in Dimitriades Quarter of Thasos, from SW ,Thasos City

Gate of Zeus and Hera, entablature blocks with triglyphs, metopes, and ins...

Summary: Center of an island city-state.
Type: Fortified city
Region: Thrace









The city of Thasos (on the N coast of the island, opposite the mainland) had 2 ancient harbors, one of which was enclosed by the city's fortification system. The extant walls of Thasos date mainly to ca. 411 B.C., but rest on earlier foundations of walls demolished first by order of the Persians (491 B.C.), and again by order of the Athenians (463 B.C.). Several of the extant city gates, however, date to the earlier Archaic circuit.

Within the ca. 4 km long walls of the city are a number of sanctuaries (including those to Poseidon, Artemis, Herakles and Dionysos), residential and commercial buildings, and the agora in the lower town. The agora is located at the center of the city's shore line, with a gateway to the adjacent fortified harbor. The agora was surrounded by stoas and public buildings and contained many altars and small shrines.

The city walls extend to the SW to enclose the 3 summits of the acropolis where individual sanctuaries to Apollo, Athena and Pan are located. In the Roman period an odeion, basilica and monumental arch were added. The Greek theater on the slope, along the E wall of the city was remodeled by the Romans to serve as an arena.


The island of Thasos has been inhabited since the Neolithic period. According to tradition the island takes its name from Thasos, the leader of a group of Phoenician traders who were exploiting the gold mines of the island in the Early Iron Age when the island was inhabited by a Thracian tribe. Around 680 B.C. Ionian Greeks from Paros colonized the island.

Thasos reached its greatest prosperity during the Archaic and early Classical period due to its position on the sea routes, its supply of timber and marble for export, and in particular its gold mines.

The island submitted to the Persians in 491 and 480 B.C. In 477 Thasos joined the Athenian controlled Delian League. The island was unsuccessful in attempts to withdraw from Athenian dominance in 464 and 411 B.C. and in 377 B.C. it joined the 2nd Athenian League.

In the Hellenistic and Roman periods Thasos had little political power, but remained prosperous.


Early topographical exploration by A. Conze in 1858 and J. Bent in 1886. In 1910 the French School began excavations at the ancient city which have continued, with interruptions until the present. Research outside the city includes: excavations at the sanctuary at Aliki by J. Bent in 1886 and by the French School in 1924 and 1961-1962; excavation at a cave near the sanctuary by A. Romiopoulou in 1962; and excavations at a necropolis at Theologos by the French School in 1925.

Sources Used:

Leekley and Noyes 1975, 14-15; PECS, 903; Rossiter 1977, 569

Other Bibliography:

A. Conze, Reise auf den Inseln des Thrakischen Meeres (1860 Hannover). J. T. Bent, CR 1 (1887) 210ff (on remains in Thasos city). French activities reported yearly since 1910 in BCH. Excavation series: L'École française d'Athènes, Études Thasiennes, 1-8 (1944-62, continuing). L'École française d'Athènes, Guide de Thasos (1967) (map & plans). D. Lazarides, Thasos and its Peraia (Ancient Greek Cities, 5; Athens, 1971). J. Pouilloux, "Archiloque et Thasos: Histoire et Poésie," Entretiens 10 (1963). For island topography: C. Fredrich, AM 33 (1908) 215ff; Baker-Penroyre and Tod, JHS 29 (1909) 91ff, 203ff; Bon, BCH 54 (1930) 147ff. For sanctuary at Aliki: Bent, JHS 8 (1887) 434; and reports in BCH (1962) 949ff; ArchDelt 17 (1961/2) Chr., 251ff; ArchDelt 18 (1963) Chr.,257ff. Elsewhere on the island: BCH 49 (1925) 465; ArchDelt 25 (1970) Chr.2, 400f; AAA 3 (1970) 215ff; BCH 54 (1930) 147ff. ArchEph (1970) Chr. 16-22.