previous next

GONNOS or Gonnoi, Gonnoussa, Thessaly, Greece.

An important city of Perrhaibia, located on the left bank of the Peneois river, at the W entrance to the Tempe pass. It controlled the pass and the S end of a route which led from Macedonia to Thessaly over the E shoulder of Olympos via Lake Askyris. Xerxes came by here in 480 B.C. (Hdt. 7.128, 173). The area was settled in prehistoric times, and the city evidently prospered in the archaic and Classical periods. Owing to its position, it was important to Macedon in the Hellenistic period, and it played a part in wars between Rome and various Hellenistic kings. Philip V collected stragglers here on his way back to Macedonia in 197 B.C. after Kynokephalai (Livy 33.10; Polyb. 18.27.12). It was freed and important after the Roman liberation of 196 B.C. Antiochus III, advancing N in Thessaly in 191 B.C., was frightened back to Demetrias by Appius Claudius who came down from Macedonia to the heights above Gonnos (via the Askyris route? [Livy 36.10]); Perseus in 171 B.C. took the city and strengthened its fortifications with a triple ditch and rampart, and left a garrison there which remained until Pydna (Livy 42.54, 67; 44.6). The city prospered thereafter, but seems to have dwindled in importance in the Roman provincial period.

The ruins of the site are on the end of a ridge of lower Olympos which stretches down into the Peneios plain 1 km from the river and ca. 3 km from the W end of the Tempe pass. The ancient town is almost 2 km SE of modern Gonnoi (formerly Dereli). The end of the ridge is broken into three separate hills aligned in a half-moon shape facing SE. Along the NW side of the ridge is a deep ravine. In the archaic period the NE hill was circled by a wall made of small, flat, roughly squared stone slabs laid in fairly regular courses; part of it is still preserved to 6 m high. In Hellenistic times the city wall was extended along the ridge to include the other two hills, and then across the wide, theater-shaped slope between the SE hill and the acropolis. The line of the wall along the ridge (ca. one course high) can be traced; the stretch across the valley has largely disappeared. The wall between the middle hill and the SE one, and around the SE hill was fortified by some 12 projecting towers. In the middle of this stretch of wall was a gate flanked by towers. Another gate could be seen in the middle of the stretch crossing the valley, and outside this gate Arvanitopoullos in 1910 saw a ditch and earth rampart he took to be the fossa triplex built by Perseus.

The archaic acropolis was inhabited since Neolithic times. On the summit, excavations in 1910-11 uncovered the foundations of an elliptical temple of small stones with an entrance to the SE. It probably had two poros columns in the door; fragments of an archaic Doric capital were found. The temple seems to have been built with a stone socle and mudbrick upper parts. Fragments of archaic painted terracotta antefixes and cornice were found here. The temple was rebuilt on the same plan in the 4th-3d c. B.C.: Hellenistic terracottas and roof tiles were also found. Three half-round terrace walls support the slope to the S of the temple, which Arvanitopoullos called the Temple of Athena Polias. Foundations of another building, possibly a temple, were discovered and excavated at this time just inside the NW gate. Dedications to Artemis were found near it. To the E of the city walls, in the plain, are the foundations of a temple (partially excavated in 1914) perhaps to Asklepios. South of this are the foundations of another temple.

Arvanitopoullos supposed the agora of the city to be on the gentle slope at the 5 foot of the acropolis hill, where he saw the remains of a large building. Just outside the wall here he saw the remains of a Roman (?) building. He discovered a water channel just to the N of the acropolis, which brought water from a spring called Manna on the peak of Lower Olympos called Solio, where there was said to be (1910) a cemented reservoir. South of the walled city is a mound in the plain called Besik Tepe, which was a prehistoric site. Around the mound are traces of a (period?) wall, and on the summit remains of buildings of small stones. Ancient graves have been found at this tepe, outside the N gate of the city, and outside the S gate. The site of Gonnos has yielded a rich quantity of inscriptions, some sculpture and other remains.


W. M. Leake, Nor. Gr. (1835) in 388f; AM 34 (1909) 84; A. S. Arvanitopoullos, Praktika (1910) 241-54MPI; 253-56, 315-20P, 347; (1914) 208-10; id., ArchEph (1911) 123ff; F. Stählin, Das Hellenische Thessalien (1924) 32-36PI; E. D. Van Buren, Greek Fictile Revetments in the Archaic Period (1926) 36f; AA (1960) 173; W. K. Pritchett, “Xerxes' Route over Mt. Olympus,” AJA 65 (1961) 369-75I; H. Biesantz, Die Thessalischen Grabreliefs (1965) 125I.


hide References (4 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (4):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 7.128
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 42, 54
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 33, 10
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 36, 10
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: