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HISTIAIA (Orei) Euboia, Greece.

The ancient site can be associated quite confidently with the prominent terraced hill (Kastro) situated at the very E limits of the modern village of Orei on the N coast of the island. In later antiquity the town came to be known more commonly as Oreos (e.g., Strab. 10.1.3), the name of an old deme in the neighborhood (probably Molos, a small headland located a few km to the W of Orei).

Histiaia was the most important Classical town in the region. Its importance was based not only on its strategic position overlooking the narrows leading to the North Euboian Gulf but on its control of the large and fertile coastal plain on which the city lay. Trial excavation and surface reconnaissance have demonstrated that the site was already flourishing in the Bronze Age, and Homer (Il. 2.537) testifies to the fertility of the surrounding plain by describing it as “rich in vines.” Surface finds suggest that it continued to be occupied during the Early Iron Age, probably by the Aiolic-speaking Ellopians or Perrhaibians who seem to have replaced the Homeric Abantes. In 480 B.C. the city and its environs were overrun by the Persians (Hdt. 8.23). After the Persian Wars it became a member of the Delian Confederacy, contributing the rather modest sum of 1/6 talent. In 446 the Euboians revolted and were promptly reduced by Athens (Thuc. 1.114.3); but Histiaia was treated more severely than the other Euboian cities. (Plut. Per. 23 attributes the severity of the puhishment to the Histiaian seizure of an Athenian ship and the murder of its crew.) Perikles sent off the existing population of the city to Macedonia and replaced them with a cleruchy of 1000 (Diod. 12.22) or 2000 (Theopompos in Strab. 10.1.3) Athenians who may have temporarily settled at the old site of Oreos. In any event, the city was commonly referred to by that name thereafter. The exiled population probably returned home at the end of the Peloponnesian War in 404; thereafter they seem to have been largely under the control of Sparta until they joined the Second Athenian Confederacy in 376-375. Although the city appears to have become a member (for the first time) of the reconstituted league of Euboian cities in 340, its allegiance during most of the 4th c. seems to have vacillated between Athens and Macedonia. It was almost exclusively pro-Macedonian during the 3d c., as a result of which it was attacked in 208 and captured in 199 by a Roman-Pergamene force (Livy 28.6, 31.46). The Roman garrison was removed in 194, and—to judge from the wide distribution of its coinage—Histiaia-Oreos prospered during the first half of the 3d c. Thereafter little is known of its history, yet surface finds indicate that the site continued to be inhabited in Roman, Byzantine, and later times. Considerable remains of the later fortifications incorporating a number of Classical blocks can still be seen at Orei, while evidence of ancient harbor installations have been observed at Mobs.

There has been little excavation at Orei. A small trial excavation produced Early Helladic pottery; a segment of a house wall, a small cist-grave and pottery, all probably of Middle Helladic date; and Late Helladic pottery. The foundations of a Late Byzantine church were also exposed at the S foot of the mound in 1954.


F. Geyer, Topographie und Geschichte der Insel Euböa (1903); A. Georgiades, Les Ports de la Grèce dans l'Antiquité (1907)P; L. Pernier & B. Pace, “Ricognizioni archeologiche nell' Eubea settentrionale,” Annuario 3 (1921)M; A. Philippson, GL I.2 (1951); W. Wallace, The Euboean League and its Coinage (1956); L. Robert, “Circulation des monnaies d'Histiée,” Hellenica 11-12 (1960); L. Sackett et al., “Prehistoric Euboea: Contributions Toward a Survey,” BSA 61 (1966)M.


hide References (5 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (5):
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 12.22
    • Herodotus, Histories, 8.23
    • Strabo, Geography, 10.1.3
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.114.3
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 28, 6
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