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BEROIA Macedonia, Greece.

An ancient city on the E slope of Mt. Bermion, which has existed continuously to the present day under the same name. It was called Karaferia by the Turks. It is situated on the crossing of the E-W road via the S of the three passes over Bermion and the N-S road across the W side of the marsh which elsewhere covers a good part of the lower Macedonian plain. According to a Macedonian myth Beroia was the daughter of the mythical king Beres: “Beres had three children, Mieza, Beroia, and Olganos” (Steph. Byz. s.v. Mieza). The Macedonians came from the W, from upper Macedonia, and settled the E slope of Bermion around 700 B.C. (see Edessa). Beroia is mentioned first in historical times in 432 B.C. in a much disputed passage of Thucydides (1.61.4) where he tells us that after the Athenians captured Therme and besieged Potidaia they attacked Beroia and other places. In 288 B.C. the Macedonians deserted Demetrios Poliorketes in front of the walls of Beroia and joined Pyrrhos of Epeiros inside the city (Plut., Dem. 44, Pyrrh. 11). After the battle of Pydna in 168 B.C. Beroia was one of the first cities which surrendered to the Romans (Livy 44.45.5). Through the whole history of Macedonia Beroia appears as second in importance to whatever city was the first, which changed in succession from Edessa to Pella to Thessalonika. After the Roman conquest it was not made capital of one of the four merides, but from the time of Augustus it seems generally accepted that it was the seat of the Macedonian Koinon and prospered as never before. The Apostle Paul fled here when he was sent out of Thessalonika in 49-50 A.D., and he founded a Christian community. In inscriptions of the 3d c. A.D. the titles of Beroia are: σεμνοτάτη μητρόπολις καὶδίς νεωκόρος Βέροια, under Decius Trajan Beroia carries the fuller title of: Μητρόπολις καὶ κολωνία καὶ τετράκις νεωκόρος .

Except for a prehistoric axe which was found by itself in a building excavation, the oldest finds from graves date to the Early Iron Age. Very few finds of the Classical period have been preserved because of the continuous settlement of the town and the perishable nature of Macedonian building materials (poros stone, wood, stucco). Moreover, these remains are hidden under a large Byzantine, Turkish, and more recent settlement.

A part of the ancient walls is preserved under later additions and repairs, especially on the road out of the city toward Thessalonika and Naousa. The older parts are constructed of large poros blocks from the Bermion quarry, as is a round tower, while the upper and more recent parts of the wall, including a complete rectangular tower, were constructed hastily in the 3d c. A.D. against some danger from the Goths or Herulians, with reused ancient marbles, various architectural fragments, altars bearing honorary and funerary inscriptions, statues, inscriptions, etc.

The remains of public and private buildings appear chiefly in the center of the modern town, on both sides of the modern Metropolis, Venizelos, and Kentrike Sts., where lay the center of the ancient town. The building material was again local poros, marble being used only in thresholds, as in the neighboring palace at Verghina. At Beroia, too, appear the double Ionic columns, the shining stucco, and the same type of terracotta tiles. The immovable remains were covered over in private residences after they were cleaned, drawn, and photographed. They are preserved below ground until some opportune time (e.g., in the residence of the brothers Karadoumane).

During the work of building the streets named above, remains of large Roman roads were discovered. The ancient roads, with small deviations, have the same course as those of today and lead to the same exits from the city: (a) the E gate to Thessalonika and Edessa-Pella, that is, to lower Macedonia; (b) the S gate to Pieria across the Halyacmon; and (c) the W gate to Elimeia in upper Macedonia, via the S of the three passes over Mt. Bermion. Of these Roman roads, which date to the period of the Tetrarchy, the one along what is now Metropolis St. was paved with slabs of hard limestone. A drain, built under the middle of it, was lined with curbstones on each side, and under the sidewalks were water pipes.

Many graves were discovered by chance and investigated near the above-mentioned three exits from the city. Some were chambers with loculi cut in the soft rock, others were cist graves, others were tile lined and covered. Most are dated to the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Most of the graves had been robbed, but some contained pottery, figurines, and other offerings. The tumuli by the S and E exits of the city, which probably cover vaulted tombs of the type called Macedonian have not been excavated.

Other small finds from Beroia were chance finds, or have been collected from the walls and courts of old houses. There have been no systematic excavations in the area of the ancient city, but only salvage ones. Therefore the collection in the Beroia Museum consists mainly of reliefs and inscriptions, although there are some other finds. Of the carvings, the most notable is an unpublished colossal Hellenistic head of Medusa from the E gate of the city wall, where it may have been placed for apotropaic purposes. The large number of very high quality Roman portraits is a reminder of the fact that in the period of the Macedonian Koinon Beroia developed a high degree of craftsmanship. Works of a family of Beroian sculptors are scattered from Thessalian Larissa and Lete near Thessalonika to Eidomene on the Greek-Yugoslav border. Most of the inscriptions are of Roman date, funerary or honorary, and decrees of the Synedrion of the Macedonian Koinon. One of the most interesting and longest texts is of the still unpublished (it was found in 1949) Law for the Gymnasiarchs of Beroia, of the Hellenistic period. Also of interest are some manumlssion inscriptions of about the same period and some dedications, among which is a plaque which tells us Philip V dedicated “the stoas to Athena.” Some cults are attested by inscriptions, as those of Herakles Kynagidas, Asklepios, Hermes, Zeus Hypsistos, etc.

Of the terracotta offerings from the graves the figurines and lamps make up an interesting series, as do some of the categories of pottery: Hellenistic pyxides, tear bottles (balsamaria), etc. Earlier finds from Beroia were taken to the Thessalonika Museum, where they are still kept.

A bronze in Munich, the “Kore of Beroia” should be mentioned, but most of the finds, particularly those noted above are in the Beroia Museum. This is already one of the richest museums in Northern Greece, since it has acquired interesting groups of finds both from systematic and salvage excavations in the area. The finds from Mieza (see Mieza and Lefkadia) are of the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Finally, there is a noteworthy collection of manumission inscriptions, most of them from the Sanctuary of the Autocthonous Mother of the Gods (Mother of the Autocthonous Gods) from Mt. Bermion by the Beroia-Kozani road near the town of Leukopetra. These date approximately to the period from 169 to 362 A.D. and record the ending of the ancient world in the face of the Christian-Byzantine Epoch, during which Beroia continued her brilliant life, in Macedonia second only to Thessalonika.


C. Edson, “The Antigonids, Herakles and Beroea,” HSCP 45 (1934) 213-46; id., “Strepsa” (Thuc. 1.61.4) CP 50 (1955) 169-90; M. Andronikos, Ἀρχαῖαι Ἐπιγραφαί Βεροίας(1950)I; D. Kanatsoules, Τό Κοινόν τῶν Μακεδόνων, Μακεδονικά 3 (1953-55) (1956) 27-102; P. Lévêque, Pyrrhos (1957), 154-57 and passim; A. Greifenhagen, Das Mädchen von Beröa (1958)I; P. R. Franke, ΘεσσαλικάI; “Zwei signierte Werke des Bildhauers Euandros,” RhM 101 (1958) 336-37; Ph. M. Petsas Τάφος τῶν Λευκαδίων (1966) 5-18; id., “Veria,” EAA VII (1966) 1135-36I; id., Χρονικά Ἀρχαιολογικά, Μακεδονικά 7 (1967) 318-22; A. K. Andreiomenou, Ἀρχαιότητες καῖ Μνημεῖα Δυτικῆς Μακεδονίας, Deltion 23 (1968) Χρονικά, 345-48I; I. Touratsoglou, Δύο νέαι ἐπιγραφικαί μαρτυρίαι περί τοῦ Κοινοῦ τῶν Μακεδόνων κλπ.; Ἀρχαία Μακεδονία, ἔκδ. Ἑταιρείας Μακεδ. Σπουδῶν (1970) 280-90I.


hide References (2 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (2):
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.61.4
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 44, 45
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