Thursday, April 7, 2011

Olynthos(an account of my visit there)

In Olynthos 

Olynthos is not among the famous archaeological sites where tourists from the whole world would come to visit in fact even in antiquity it wasn't a very important city except for a very short period. Its location in Northern Greece makes it less known since these areas are preferred mainly by Balkan or Russian tourists rather than Western tourists .

the ruins of Olynthos
Some six years ago i was in Chalcidice for vacation. Chalkidice is the main holiday destination for Northern Greeks and for Balkan tourists who visit Greece. Its two legs(if you see the map Chalcidice has three penisulas that look like legs. Although one of them is inaccessible for women it's called holy mountain and is full of monasteres) have nothing less to offer than any of the famous Greek islands.From an archaeological perspective Chalcidice has to offer some interesting sights. Except Olynthus there's also ancient Potidaia the second biggest town of Chalcidice after Olynthos in antiquity and Stageira the town where Aristotle grew up.There is also anthropological interest the area.In a cave with depth of 300m. called petralona excavations have revealed the presence of human homo erectus dating some thousand years ago.

Olynthos used to be a human settlement since the bronze age. According to Greek mythology Olynthos was one of the numerous sons of Hercules. However historically it is mentioned that in the 7th century BC it was inhabited by  Thracians. After the Persian wars Greek colonists from nearby areas made Olynthos a greek city.It was not until the 4rth century that the city came to prominence. Ironically in the same century at the height of its power it was looted and razed by King Philip of Macedon.

The archaeological sight is a bit difficult to find. It is in the inland of Chalcidice and if you don't know the area i suggest you to have a gps or a map with you. When i went there i didn't have to pay a ticket but surely there is a symbolic price.Entering the sight you will see a little building which operates as a litle museum. Inside it there are some exhibits from the main site. I recommend you to bring  with you a bottle of water cause all the refreshments at the nearby shop are expensive and especially if are visiting at summer the sun dehydrates you quickly.A summer hat would also be a good addition to your sun protection.

The main site is a little far from the entrance. You must walk at least 500 metres and ascend a small hill(most ancient greek sites are located on plateaus where they could be better defended from invaders. From a first look there's nothing exciting too see. It's a common archaeological site full with ruins and none of them   containing any columns or any standing classic greek temple.From a general view the only thing you see are the foundations of typical houses of antiquity. However even ruined houses hide some treasures of inestimable value.If you wander though the ruins you'll find some of the most beautiful mosaics of the ancient world that have survived until our days.I am sure these artistic masterpieces will make you revoke all your curses for the effort and the time spent for  reaching the site and then walking towards it.

Since i am a mere observer and not an archaeologist below you'll find a report of the American school of classical studies in Athens  for Olynthos giving a better explanation of the findings in Olynthos.

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