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THESSALONIKE (Thessaloniki), Greece.

At the N end of the Thermaic Gulf, probably on the site of Therme. Founded ca. 316 B.C. by Kassander as a result of a synoecism of 26 local cities, and so called after his wife, Alexander's sister. It owed its existence and continued prosperity to the fact that it lay at the Aegean end of the route to Central Europe via the valleys of the rivers Axios (Vardar) and Morava. It became the capital of the Roman province of Macedonia in 146 B.C., received the neocorate under Gordian III (A.D. 238-44), was made a colonia in the reign of Decius (A.D. 250), and in the mid 5th c. became the seat of the prefects of Illyricum. It suffered various vicissitudes in the Middle Ages, including capture by Saracens and Normans, before falling to the Turks in 1430 and to the Greeks in 1912.

The foundations of an archaic Ionic temple of ca. 500 B.C., presumably belonging to Therme, were found before the Second World War S of Government House, and its disiecta membra have been found elsewhere since then.

The regular plan, which has survived in part down to the present, was probably laid out at the time of the city's foundation, and it has close parallels with the plans of other Hellenistic cities, especially in the proportions of the insulae (some 100 x 50 m). The site of the archaic temple very likely continued as a sacred area through Hellenistic times into Roman. But the only Hellenistic cult center whose site is definitely known is the Serapaion in the W of the lower city, which was excavated in 1917, though never published. There was a gymnasium in the N of the city at least from the late Hellenistic period, if not before, and a nearby stadium (once to be seen S of the basilica of St. Demetrius) probably went back to Hellenistic times as well. The Hellenistic fortifications probably followed the lines of the later walls, and Hellenistic tombs have been found outside the city in the area of the Roman cemeteries.

Very little is known about earlier Roman buildings. Cicero, who spent some of his exile at Thessalonike, mentions the Quaestorium and also refers to the inhabitants seeking refuge from invading Thracians in the citadel. Inscriptions have been found referring to the imperial cult, and the center of emperor worship was probably near where the archaic temple had stood, for some imperial portrait statues have been found there.

A remarkable feature of the Roman period is the building activity that went on in Antonine and Severan times, probably as a result of rivalry with neighboring Beroia. An arch of ca. A.D. 150 stood until 1874 at the W end of what was the principal artery of the Roman city (the so-called Via Egnatia; the name is in fact a misnomer). An agora of the Antonine or Severan period has been found in Plateia Dikasteriou in the upper city. It occupied two insulae, was surrounded by stoas, and had an odeum to the E (modified in the Tetrarchic period). Along the S side there was a cryptoporticus, and steps led down to a further open space to the S, the extent of which is unknown. Nor do we know the original position or the precise function of the “Incantadas,” a mid 2d c. colonnade surmounted by piers decorated in high relief with figures of Ganymede, a Dioskouros, Aura, and Nike on one side, and Leda, Ariadne, Dionysos, and a maenad on the other (the sculpture was removed to the Louvre in 1864). A small trapezoidal exedra of Antonine date can still be seen on Odos Egnatia. Not far from the Acheiropoietos basilica Roman house walls, a colonnade, and a large drain have been found, and a Roman mosaic floor still exists inside the basilica itself. Large mosaics of Ganymede and of Dionysos and Ariadne were found in 1965 on Odos Sokratous. The threat of attacks by the Goths in the middle years of the 3d c. was met by the construction of a city wall replacing the Hellenistic fortifications.

At the turn of the 3d and 4th c. A.D., a large Tetrarchic palace was built on the city's E edge, and it probably stretched from the sea to a point some 800 m inland. The width of the palace area was ca. 200 m. Surviving structures include part of an arch decorated with sculptured panels built to commemorate Galerius' victories over the Persians, and a rotunda which was probably intended for his mausoleum, although it was never used as such. Foundations of an octagon some 30 m in diameter were found in 1950, a courtyard of the palace was discovered during the 1960s, and enough stretches of thehippodrome have been found to show that the length of the running track was just over 400 m.

There was a great deal of building in the mid 5th c. The seat of the prefects of Illyricum had been at Sirmium, but in the face of the threat presented by the Huns it was moved to Thessaloniki in 441-42. The city had to be defended and given suitably prestigious public buildings. Thus new city walls were built, incorporating marble seating blocks from the hippodrome in their foundations. Churches also were built, including the Acheiropoietos basilica, the first basilica of St. Demetrius (whose cult was brought from Sirmium), and a basilica some 100 m long found recently underlying the 8th c. Aghia Sophia. The foundations of its hexagonal baptistery are visible to the S. To the same period (mid 5th c.) belong the conversion of the Tetrarchic rotunda into a church (since 1912 the church of St. George) and the decoration of its cupola with mosaics.

The E and W walls are some 1,800 m apart and the acropolis is the same distance from the sea. The Istanbul Archaeological Museum houses the principal antiquities found in the area before 1912; subsequent finds are kept in the Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum.


O. Tafrali, Topographie de Thessalonique (1913); E. Hébrard, “L'Arc de Galére et l'église St Georges de Salonique,” BCH 44 (1920); H. von Schoenebeck, “Die Stadtplanung des römischen Thessalonike,” Bericht über den 6. Internationales Kongres für Archäologie (1940); Ch. Makaronas, Makedonika 1 (1940); 2 (1953); id., Τὸ ὀκτάγωνον τῆς Θεσσαλονίκης, Praktika (1950); id., “Via Egnatia and Thessalonike,” in Studies Presented to D. M. Robinson (1951) I; id., Καμάρα, τὸ θριαμβικὸ τόξο τοῦ Γαλερίου στὴ Θεσσαλονίκη (1969); G. & M. Soteriou, Βασιλικὴ τοῦ Αγίου Δημητρίου Θεσσαλονίκης (1952); E. Dyggve, “La région palatiale de Thessalonique,” Acta Congressus Madvigiani I (1958); L. Guerrini, “‘Las Incantadas’ di SaIonicco,” Archeologia classica 13 (1961); G. Bakalakis, “Therme-Thessalonike,” AntK Beiheft 1 (1963)M; id., “Vorlage und Interpretation von römischen Kunstdenkmälern in Thessaloniki,” AA (1973); P. Papadopoulou, Deltion 18 (1963); 19 (1964); P. Drossoyanni, Deltion 18 (1963); M. Karamanoli-Siganidou, Deltion 20 (1965); 25 (1970); Ph. M. Petsas, Deltion 21 (1966); 22 (1967); (1968); M. Vickers, “The Date of the Walls of ThessaIonica,” Istanbul Arkeoloji Müzeleri Yilligi, 15-16 (1969); id., “The Date of the Mosaics of the Rotunda at Thessaloniki,” BSR 35 (1971); id., “A Note on the Byzantine Palace at Thessaloniki,” BSA 66 (1971); id., “Hellenistic Thessaloniki,” JHS 92 (1972)P; id., “Further observations on the date of the walls of Thessaloniki,” Makedonika 12 (1972); id., “The Hippodrome at Thessaloniki,” JRS 62 (1972); id., “Observations on the Octagon at Thessaloniki,” ibid. 63 (1973); id., “Epilegomena to IG X, 2, 1,” JHS 93 (1973); id., “Fifth century brickstamps from Thessaloniki,” BSA 68 (1973); id., “Where was Procopius' Therme?” CR NS 24 (1974); id., “Sirmium or Thessaloniki? A critical examination of the St. Demetrius legend,” ByzZeit 67 (1974); G. Gounaris, Παρατηρήσεις τινὲς ἐπὶ τῆς χρονολογίας τῶν τεῖχων τῆς Θεσσαλονίκης, Makedonika 11 (1971); B. Brenk, “Spätantiker attischer Sarcophag in Saloniki,” JOB 21 (1972); St. Pelekanides, ‘Τὸ θέατρον τὸ καλούμενον στάδιονΤῆς Θεσσαλονίκης, ΚΕΡΝΟΣ, Festschrift Bakalakis (1972); C. Edson (ed.), IG X, 2, 1 (1972); id., & G. Daux, “IG X, 2, 1: Prolegomena, Epilegomena,” BCH 98 (1974); J.-M. Spieser, “Note sur la chronologie des remparts de Thessalonique,” BCH 93 (1974).


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