previous next

DHERVENI Macedonia, Greece.

Situated 11 km NW of Thessalonika. It is the only viable pass from the bay of the Thermaic Gulf to the region of the Langada and Volvi Lakes (the region of ancient Mygdonia). Along the narrow way and on either side of it there are ancient ruins and several discoveries have been made from time to time, probably belonging to Lete, a very ancient town with a series of silver coins dating to before 500 B.C. The town Lete received this name according to Steph. Byz. “from the temple to Leto erected in the vicinity.” A Letean cavalry troop took part in Alexander the Great's expedition. A gate on the W branch of the Thessalonika walls was called Letean. The identification of the town is made possible by a famous inscription referring to a vote of Lete in favor of the quaestor M. Annius. It was found in the village of Aïvati (now Lete) near Dherveni and is kept in the Istanbul Museum. The inscription refers to the Assembly and the People of Lete as well as to the joint administration of the rulers of the city. It is dated ca. 119 B.C.

The most important remains of the site are the Macedonian tombs, the best known of which is the tomb of Langada. Movable finds from this tomb were taken to the Istanbul Museum before the liberation of Macedonia from the Turks (1912). Another Macedonian tomb less well known and incompletely excavated is to be found in the village of Laïna. Valuable finds from the Hellenistic period (reliefs, inscriptions, etc.) from the Temple of Demeter and Kore are in the Thessalonika Museum.

Under the Turkish name for passage (dherveni) the site became world-famous particularly from 15 Jan. 1962 on when amazing artifacts were discovered accidentally and later excavated. They came from about six rectangular tombs which had not been looted. Most of them are bronze (not gilt as originally thought) or silver vessels, implements, and arms. There are also gold jewelry, clay, alabaster, and glass vessels, gold coins (among them half-drachma pieces of Philip II and Alexander the Great), a head of Herakles made of gold plate, and other small objects. An especially valuable find was a papyrus discovered among the remains of a funeral pyre. It is the only papyrus found in Greece and may be the oldest one in existence (mid 4th c. B.C.). It preserves the scholia on orphic theogony of an unknown writer. The most precious discovery of the Dherveni tombs is certainly the famous bronze krater with relief ornamentation representing dionysiac rites. An inscription, in Thessalian dialect, informs us that the krater is the property of one Astion, son of Anaxagoras, from Larissa. Because the krater has not yet been published, as well as the other finds of the Dherveni tombs, its dating and evaluation are still tentative. Some date it to the third quarter of the 4th c. B.C., others tend to bring it closer to 300 B.C. All the finds of the Dherveni tombs are kept in the Thessalonika Museum, where most are on exhibit.


Th. Macridy, “Un tumulus macédonien à Langaza,” JdI XXVI (1911) 193ffPI; Dittenberger, Sylloge3 (1918) 700; cf. AntCl 35 (1966) 430; E. Oberhummer, “Lete,” RE XII.2 (1925) 2138; Ch. I. Makaronas, Χρονικά Ἀρχαιλογικά Μακεδονικά 2 (1953) 616ff, nos. 42 and 44PI; id., Ἀρχαιότητες και Μνημεῖα Κεντρικῆς Μακεδονίας, Deltion 18 (1963), Χρονικά, 193ffI; D. Kanatsoulis, ἀρχαία Λητή (1961); E. Vanderpool, “News Letter from Greece,” AJA 66 (1962) 389; S. G. Kapsomenos, “The Orphic Papyrus Roll of Thessalonica,” The Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 2.1 (Oct. 1964); id., ὀρφικό πάπυρος τῆς Θεσσαλονίκης, Deltion 19 (1964) 17ff; I. G. Daux, “Chronique des Fouilles,” BCH (1963); Ph. M. Petsas, ΧρονικάἈρχαιολογικά 1966-1967, Μακεδονικά 7 (1967) 293ff, nos. 46,52,87 and 88I; id., Χρονικά Ἀρχαιολογικά Μακεδονικά 9 (1969) 136ff, nos. 37,42,46 and 64.


hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: