Located in N Greece, in
Akarnania at the mouth of the Acheloos river. The city
first appears in history in the 5th c. B.C. when it was apparently already at least partially fortified. A friend of the Peloponnesian League, Oiniadai had to withstand pressure from Athens, including at least one siege conducted by Pericles. It held out, but eventually joined the
Athenian League in 424. The city from this time on remained under Athenian influence and was a member of the second Athenian Confederacy in the 4th c. The Hellenistic period was marked by warfare with the Aitolians,
until Philip V freed the city from their control in 219.
Oiniadai reverted to Aitolia under the Romans but became Akarnanian again in 189. Its history under Roman rule is unclear.
The walls are particularly well preserved, extending
some 6.5 km in length with a number of well-preserved
gates and sally ports. Two types of masonry are employed, polygonal and trapezoidal. Latest research on the chronology of the fortifications leans to the opinion that the polygonal walls are datable to the period of Athenian
pressure in the latter half of the 5th c., and that the circuit underwent modifications in the Hellenistic period.
Excavations in 1900-1901 revealed a number of important buildings. A Greek bath complex was found, consisting of two round rooms with basins and a number of other rooms, at least one of which had a large bathtub.
The date appears to be the second half of the 3d c. B.C.
This is probably about the time of the rebuilding in the
theater of Oiniadai, which was partially excavated. At
this time a proskenion was placed in front of an earlier
stage building, which may have been originally erected
in the 4th c. B.C. A row of four stone blocks within the
present scene building probably marks the original front
wall of the earlier skene. In the excavated portion of the
cavea, some of the stone seats were found to have manumission inscriptions, datable to the 3d or 2d c. B.C., cut
into their upper surfaces. Some remodeling was apparently undertaken in the early Roman period, and there is
also some indication of a later reconstruction in the bath
On the E side of the entrance to the harbor, the excavators with some difficulty identified what they considered a combination naval storage building and ship shed composed of five slipways for the careening and
storage of vessels. Minor buildings uncovered include a
small temple on a promontory W of the harbor and a
private house on another hill.
W. M. Leake, Travels in Northern
III (1835) 556-78P
; B. Powell & J. M. Sears,
“Oiniadae I-IV,” AJA
8 (1904) 137-237PI
M; E. Fichter, Die Theater von Oiniadai und Neupleuron, Antike
2204-28 (E. Kirsten)P
; F. E. Winter, “Greek Fortifications,” Phoenix
Suppl. IV (1971) 96-98; Der kleine Pauly
W. R. BIERS