|Summary:||Center of an island city-state.|
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.