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AKANTHOS Chalkidike, Greece.

A city on the Chalkidean Isthmus of Akte between the Singitic and Strymonic Gulfs at the modern village of lerissos. According to Thucydides (4.84) it was founded as a colony of Andros. Akanthos is well known for its coins, which had a wide circulation. Its primary source of income was probably agriculture.

Historically, Akanthos appears first in connection with the Persian Wars when it supported first Mardonios (Hdt. 6.44) and then Xerxes (Hdt. 7.22; 115ff; 121). It was particularly important in aiding the latter dig his canal across the Isthmus of Akte (Hdt. 7.22, 115; Thuc. 4.109). The line of this canal can be traced today starting at the village of Nea Rhoda, which is approximately 2 km SE of lerissos. In the Athenian Tribute Lists Akanthos regularly paid 3 talents after 446-445; 5 talents were paid in the only preserved list of the first two tribute periods in 450-449 (ATL III 239ff, 267ff). Originally siding with Athens in the Peloponnesian War, Akanthos went over to Brasidas in 424 on the urging of the oligarchic faction (Thuc. 4.84ff). The fact that its troops are named in addition to the Chalkideans in Brasidas' army indicates that Akanthos did not join the Chalkidean League. With the Peace of Nikias the city was granted autonomy but was forced to resume paying tribute to Athens (Thuc. 5.18.5). Although Akanthos was taken over by the Macedonians in the 4th c. it was apparently not destroyed by them. It was then joined on the Isthmus by the new city of Uranopolis, founded by Alexarchos. The Romans pillaged Akanthos in 200 A.D. (Livy 31.45.15ff), but its harbor was still important in 167 (Livy 45.30.4). Evidence of continued existence in Imperial times is provided by the Roman inscriptions found on the acropolis.

Silver coins were first minted in Akanthos around 530 in large quantities on the Euboic standard. Around 424 there was a change over to the Phoenician standard. The Akanthos mint had ceased operation by, at the latest, the middle of the 4th c.

No systematic excavations have been undertaken as yet at Akanthos. The most significant remains preserved today are the impressive walls on the acropolis standing for some distance nearly 8 m in height. Ancient architectural blocks such as capitals, columns, and geison blocks are reused in a ruinous Byzantine church and others are lying in the vicinity of the acropolis. Remains of an ancient mole in the harbor are reported by Leake and Struck. A Roman sarcophagus, a Roman inscription, and a Roman inscribed column drum have been found at the site.


W. M. Leake, Nor. Gr. (1835) III 147ff; B. V. Head, Catalogue of Greek Coins, Macedonia . . . , 5 (1879); R. Pietschmann, “Akanthos,” RE I (1894) 1147-48; A. Struck, Makedonische Fahrten I (1907) 66; J. Desneux, “Les Tetradrachmes d'Akanthos,” Revue belge de numismatique 95 (1949) 5-122; A. Guillou & J. Bompaire, “Recherches au Mont Athos: Vestiges Antiques au Mont-Athos,” BCH 82 (1958) 192; id., Deltion 24 (1969) 309I; M. Zahrnt, Olynth und die Chalkidier (1971) 146-50.


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