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DION Greece.

A town of Pieria at the S entrance into Macedonia, named for its proximity to a shrine of Olympian Zeus (Steph. Byz.); local tradition (Paus. 9.3) held that Orpheus died and was buried there. Town and shrine were brought into prominence by King Archelaos (Diod., 17.16.3; schol. Dem. 19.192), who instituted a dramatic festival in honor of Zeus and the Muses. Philip celebrated the destruction of Olynthos at Dion (Diod. 16.15). Alexander held a nine-day festival there (Diod. 17.16.3-4; Arr. Anab. 1.11.1) before the campaign into Persia, and later commissioned Lysippos' statues of the Macedonian Companions who fell at the Graniko (ibid. 1.16.4). Dion was fostered by the Antigonids, and prospered until the Aitolians sacked it in 219 B.C. (Polyb. 4.2). It had recovered by 169 B.C. (Livy 44.7), and Metellus Macedonicus found Lysippos statues still there in 147 (Vell. Pat. 1.1 1.3; Plin., HN 34.64). In Imperial times it was resettled as Colonia Julia Diensis, and flourished while its neighbor Pydna declined. It was sacked in the late 4th c. A.D., recovered briefly in the next century, but was soon abandoned altogether.

The town lies on a gentle slope between the Aegean shore and the abrupt slopes of Mount Olympos. Until recently a dense forest and unhealthful swamps impeded serious investigation, but the site has now been cleared and drained. The first excavations concentrated on two lines of paved roadway, on a basilical church building NW of their intersection, and on several Macedonian chamber tombs in the vicinity.

The city forms a rectangle, crossed by roads running roughly N-S and E-W (actually E-NE—W-SW). The more important axis, paved with large slabs and 5-5.6 m wide, runs straight from the N to the S wall, and may continue into the sanctuary area. To the W of this road the circuit wall stands out over a large moat, which may have protected the city from flooding more than from siege. The wall is difficult to trace E of the road. The foundation courses of the S wall date from the late 4th c. It is solidly built of large rectangular blocks with numerous rectangular towers at regular intervals. In the center of the W wall, a structure that may once have served for a gate was subsequently converted into a sort of Nymphaion.

On the W side of the N-S road, towards the center of the city, there is an ornamental facade with a relief depicting shields and body armor on alternate panels. Farther S the W side is lined by shops and a bath, the latter near the passage through the S wall.

The sanctuary area extends S of the city wall, apparently along the line of the N-S road. Well to the W, towards Mt. Olympos, is a theater built on an artificial embankment, an odeion, and a stadium. Between the theater and the line of the road, near a spring, inscriptional and other evidence suggests the existence of cults of Dionysos, Athena, and Kybele. On the E side of the road excavations have brought to light naiskoi of Demeter and Asklepios, along with evidence of the cults of Baubo, Artemis, Hermes, and the Muses; farther out along the line of the road inscriptions mentioning Olympian Zeus have been found.

Finds are in a small museum in the adjacent village of Malathria (officially Dion): numerous funerary monuments, cult statues, and architectural fragments. A piece of Ionic molding dated to the 5th c. B.C. gives evidence of the embellishment of the city in the time of Archelaos.

The most impressive of the Macedonian chamber tombs in the vicinity of the theater was dated to the 4th c. B.C. but is now thought to be later. Tombs have also been found at Karitsa, N of Malathria.


W. M. Leake, Travels in Northern Greece III (1835) 408-13; L. Heuzey, Le Mont Olympe (1860) 113-28M; id. & H. Daumet, Mission en Macédoine (1876) 267-72; G. Soteriades, Excavation reports, Praktika (1928) 59; (1929) 69-82I; (1930) 36-51 (tomb)I; (1931) 43-55I; C. Mabreveas, “Neai Eidēseis ek Diou tou Pierikou, Ē Thesis tou ierou tou Dios,” ArchEph (1937) II 527-33; id., Excavation report, Praktika (1956) 13 1-38I; G. Bakalakis, Excavation reports, ArchDelt 19, 2 (1964) 344-49PI; 21, 2 (1966) 346-49I; 23, 2 (1968) 342-44I; “Chronique des Fouilles,” BCH 52 (1928) 490; 53 (1929) 510; 54 (1930) 498-500; 55 (1931) 494-95; 58 (1934) 256; 80 (1956) 311-13; 81 (1957) 597-98; 90 (1966) 862-64P; 94 (1970) 1060; Ergon (1955) 48-50, 123-25; (1956) 50-52.


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