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From its roots as a petty kingdom in the foothills of the Balkans, the Kingdom of Macedon rose to prominence as the hegemon of a vast empire, spanning from Southeastern Europe to the gates of India. Its rise was the result of the brilliant efforts of two leaders: Philip II, who subordinated the bickering polities of the Balkans and Greece under his will, and his son Alexander, who used this base of power to conquer to the reaches of the Classical world. After Alexander’s death, the Macedonian Empire splintered into a number of successor states, but the Kingdom of Macedon itself managed to maintain its power in Northern Greece until its defeat and conquest by the rising power of Rome.

Terrain and Climate[]

Macedon’s original territory lay in what is now Northern Greece and Southern Macedonia. The ancient first capital of Macedon, Aegae, was founded in the foothills of the Vermio Mountains in Northern Greece, and Ancient Macedon generally was in hilly country. The climate in this region of the Balkans is generally cooler than in Southern Greece, with cool autumns and snowy winters.

The Early Macedonian Kingdom[]

The first attested king of Macedon is Carranus, a descendant of the king of Argos who claimed the lineage of Heracles. Carranus founded the city of Aegae as well as the Argead dynasty, the house that would rule over the Macedonian Kingdom, and later Empire, until the death of Alexander. The first Macedonian king recorded by Herodotus was Perdiccas I; in some sources, he or his son Argaeus I are listed as the true founders of Aegae.

By the close of the 6th Century, Macedon had become a vassal state of the Achaemenid Empire under Darius I. While the Ionian revolt did embolden Macedon to loose itself slightly from the Persian grip, the ultimate failure of that rebellion allowed the Persian commander Mardonius to conquer Macedon and make it a subordinate kingdom of Persia. Even while technically part of Persia, Macedon was beginning to grow closer to Greece, with King Alexander I known as “The Philhellene” for his deeds in forming a Greek-style hoplite regiment known as the pezhetairoi and in secretly aiding the Greeks in the Persian Wars. After the defeat of Persian, Macedon was not heavily involved in the Peloponnesian wars, though they were allied to both the Delian and Peloponnesian Leagues at various points throughout the conflict.

Philip’s Rise to Power[]

Philip II of Macedon, the king that would create the conditions for his son Alexander’s conquest of the known world, was not supposed to be king. He was the youngest son of three, and even after his older brothers Alexander II and Perdiccas III  took the throne and subsequently died, he only ascended to the throne as regent to his nephew Amyntas IV. Shortly after, though, Philip usurped power from his 6-year-old nephew, and became true basileus of Macedon.

Philip had spent much of his adolescence as a captive of Thebes, and it was on the developed Theban military that he would model his reforms of Macedon’s army. Not only would he more than double the size of the military in general, and increase the cavalry fivefold, he would also create a dedicated corps of siege engineers, introduce uniforms, and appoint commanders to individual phalanxes, all moves that greatly increased the efficacy of the Macedonian army.

The two most important parts of Macedon’s army under Philip, though, were the pike phalanx and the companion cavalry. The pike phalanx, made up of soldiers known as phalangitai, was a clear tactical improvement over the hoplite phalanxes used in the rest of Greece at the time. The pike used by the phalangitai, known as a sarissa, could be around double the length of the dory used by hoplite phalanxes. The phalangitai proved to be a highly effective fighting force, and remained a dominant military tactic in the mediterranean world for centuries to come. The companion cavalry, or hetairoi, were another key part of the Macedonian professional army. The hetairoi were an elite force gathered from the noble sons of Macedon, trained from a young age and outfitted with the best equipment and weaponry available, including a spear known as the Xyston. They played the role of a devastating shock cavalry, used as hammer to the anvil of the phalanx.

Beyond military reform, Philip also continued the hellenization of Macedon, renovating the capital city of Pella and bringing in a number of artists and philosophers, including Aristotle, who would act as tutor for Alexander the Great in his youth.

The Conquest of Greece[]

In the early years of Philip’s reign, his main achievement was the conquest of the Athenian colony of Amphipolis, a major source of gold and silver. His conquest there, and the diplomatic dealings with Athens that followed, allowed for the establishment of a foothold in Greek affairs and the repeated embarrassment of Athens, who proved unable to recapture the city.

Throughout the two decades from 356 BCE to 337 BCE, Philip amassed a series of similar victories throughout Greece and the Greek world that proved Macedon’s dominance over Athens, Sparta, and other regional powers. Perhaps most important was the Third Sacred War, fought starting in 356 BCE over the Phocian conquest of Delphi. Phocis was backed by both Athens and Sparta, but Macedon, alongside Thessaly and Thebes, was able to achieve victory.

After gaining a positive peace settlement with Athens in 346, wherein Macedon gained control of Thermopylae and a seat on the Amphictyonic League’s council, Philip took a short break from war to improve the inner workings of the Macedonian Kingdom. It was in this period that, in the words of Alexander, Philip would bring “the Macedonians down from the hills to the plains", engaging in systematic migration to improve the centrality of Macedon to the Greek world. After only two years of a full break from conquest, Philip engaged in a two year campaign in Thrace, defeating the Scythian armies in many battles and founding and renaming many cities (renaming cities after the king became a hallmark of Philip and Alexander’s reigns.)

It was in the years 338 and 337 that Philip’s dominance over Greece became complete. First, he achieved victory over the Theban and Athenian armies at the Battle of Chaeronea, ending the threat of two other major Greek powers. Secondly, and more importantly, Philip achieved peaceful hegemony over the remainder of the Greek world not already conquered by him, by the establishment of the League of Corinth, with Philip at its head. The League, made up of all the powers of Greece except for Sparta, immediately drew up plans for a grand invasion of Persia.

Then Philip got assassinated.


Alexander III of Macedon, the ruler that would later be known as Alexander the Great, came to power at the age of 20. By the age of 32, he would be dead. In the intervening period, he would conquer the largest land empire to be constructed up to that point, and name a great many cities after himself.

Alexander’s reign began with a consolidation of power, with the killings of all possible challengers to the throne, from Macedonian princes, to the general Attalus, to his own cousin, Amyntas. He also had to put down Greek revolts caused by his father’s death, but solved most of them peacefully, using the mere threat of his cavalry more than their spears. In Thrace, though, he was not so lucky, having to defeat the Illyrians, Boeotians, and Goetians, among others, before he could advance to his true goal: Persia.

Alexander crossed into Asia minor with a massive army: with more than 45000 infantrymen, 6,100 cavalry including 1800 companions, and at least 100 triremes, fully crewed. Even in the face of this, the Persians did not see the true threat of Alexander’s forces initially.

The first major victory for the assembled Greek forces was at the Battle of the Granicus River in 334. The Persian forces, a mix of the armies of the satrapies of Asia Minor and Greek Mercenaries, were led by Memnon of Rhodes, a Greek commander who urged for a scorched earth strategy. Due to a distrust by the Satraps of their commander, the Persian forces did not fully adopt that strategy, and in the battle both the Persians and their Greek mercenary allies ended up being routed by the cavalry charges of Alexander.

Over the next few years, Alexander achieved numerous victories over the Persians. In Asia Minor, he captured the city of Halicarnassus with a decisive infantry strike after an extended siege, and dealt a Persian Emperor his first defeat in the field in history at the Battle of Issus. As he moved further south, his triumphs continued, with his naval siege of Tyre (including the use of a massive, kilometer-long causeway to transport siege towers), his breaking of the Gordian knot, and his peaceful assumption of power in Egypt, long a rival of Persia.

After his domination of Egypt and the Levant, Alexander began his advance into Mesopotamia and the Persian homeland. At the Battle of Gaugamela in modern Iraq, Darius III again faced off against Alexander, this time with the most skilled cavalry and infantry forces of the reaches of the Persian Empire. Though the Persian Army outnumbered the Greeks, the Greek army was able to neutralize the chariot charge of the Persians and counterattack with a massive wedge charge into the heart of the Persian army. At this, Darius attempted to flee the field, was chased down and killed by the Bactrian Cavalry. Alexander’s decisive victory at Gaugamela left only a few pockets of Persian resistance, and gave him free access to the treasuries of cities like Babylon and Susa. After taking the Persian Pass after a grueling, bloody siege in 330 BCE, Alexander’s conquest of Persia was complete, with the Eastern capitals of Persepolis and Pasgardae under his dominion.

Soon after his victory in Persia, Alexander turned his sights to the Western Indian kingdoms at the edge of the Greek known world. He took the fortress of the Sogdian Rock in 327 using climbers, and destroyed the stronghold of Massaga after a bloody siege wherein Alexander himself was injured, but soon began experiencing heavier resistance. In 326, he fought such an impressive battle against King Porus in the Punjab that he made Porus a satrap of the Macedonian Empire, but beyond the Hyphasis River were more powerful Indian empires like the Nanda, who presented a greater threat. Faced with this threat, Alexander’s armies mutinied, and Alexander’s persuasive efforts were for naught. Alexander then began his march back to Persia, a grueling affair that led to the deaths of many of his men.

Upon his return to Susa, Alexander began to adopt more and more Persian customs, attempting to marry his officers to Persian nobles and beginning to wear mostly Persian dress. These attempts, as well as other misguided efforts, led to a number of internal mutinies. It was in this acrimonious environment that Alexander’s friend and possible lover Hestaphion died, plunging Alexander into a deep grief. Soon after, in the palace of Babylon, Alexander died of some mix of alcohol, food poisoning, illness, and foul play.

Macedon after Alexander[]

In the immediate aftermath of Alexander’s Death, two figures kept the stability of the empire intact, at least briefly. Antipater, a close confidante of Philip, prevented internal revolt in Greece proper, while Peridiccas, head of Alexander’s companions, prevented division of the Empire between Alexander’s generals. However, upon Peridiccas’ death in 321, the oppositional forces of the Diadochi, or successors, proved too strong, and the Macedonian empire was divided into four parts: Egypt under the Ptolemies, Mesopotamia under the Seleucids, Pergamonic Anatolia under the Attalids, and Macedon and Greece itself, as led by the Antigonids.

Under the Antigonids, Greece was no longer the center of the Mediterranean world. In fact, Antigonid Macedon was frequently consumed by civil war and foreign invasion. By the reigns of Antigonus II and his son Antigonus III in the mid-3rd Century BCE, though, Antigonid dominion over Macedon and much of the rest of Greece was firmly secured.

Macedon’s prestige further increased with Philip V’s victories in the Social War against Sparta and its allies. However, it was his choice to ally with Barcid Carthage in the 2nd Punic War that ultimately doomed Macedon. The alliance drew the ire of the Roman Republic, who, in a series of 3 wars between 214 and 168, dismantled the Kingdom of Macedon and made its remnant into client republics. The defeat of a rebellion led by a pretender to the Antigonid throne in 148 BCE further extinguished the flame of Macedon.


Macedon's legacy is subject to a bitter international dispute even today - Greece claims Alexander as theirs, but one of the former Yugoslavian republics has named itself Macedonia.



Alexander the Macedonian is unquestionably one of the greatest warlords of all time. In 17 short years he marched his army to victory after victory across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East, conquering every civilization he could reach.

Early Life[]

Alexander was the son of King Phillip II, an extremely successful king and warlord who had restored his kingdom from the verge of extinction and then led his people to triumph by conquering Athens, Illyria, and Thrace - the three powers who, a few short years before, had been on the verge of conquering Macedonia. As the son of the most powerful monarch in the "civilized" world, Alexander got the best of everything, including education - the scholar Aristotle, the great thinker of Western Civilization, was his tutor.

Taught by his mother Olympias that he was descended from Hercules and Achilles, Alexander did not lack for self-confidence, even at a very young age. At the age of 14 Phillip left him in charge of Macedonia while he was away attacking Byzantium; Alexander crushed a Thracian rebellion during his father's absence. Two years later he commanded the left wing of his father's army during the battle in which Phillip's forces defeated the allied Greek states and conquered all of Greece.

The next year Alexander's good fortune deserted him, for a while, at least. King Phillip divorced Alexander's mother for a woman named "Cleopatra Eurydice", and mother and son fled Macedonia. Alexander and his father were reconciled some time thereafter, but Alexander's position as Phillip's heir would have been in grave jeopardy had Phillip not conveniently died before producing another son.

Rise to Power[]

Following the conquest of Greece and the Balkans, King Phillip had been working on building an army to invade and conquer Persia. In 336 Phillip was assassinated by the captain of his bodyguard, Pausanias, while attending his daughter's wedding. (Some believe that Alexander's mother, Olympias − or indeed Alexander himself − was behind the assassination, but as Pausanias conveniently died during the murder there was no actual proof.) At the age of twenty Alexander was proclaimed king by the Macedonian army and nobility. He celebrated his victory by murdering all potential rivals to the throne, then resumed planning his father's interrupted invasion of Persia.

The Creation of An Empire[]

Alexander's force consisted of 30,000 foot soldiers and 5,000 cavalrymen, a huge army for the day, and was accompanied by engineers, surveyors, scientists, and even historians.

In battle Alexander had amazing success against the Persians. He repeatedly beat their best soldiers, routinely fighting against odds of 10-to-1. His success can be attributed to his military genius, his force's superb training and equipment, and their magnificent esprit de corps, largely engendered by their faith in Alexander's invincibility.

Alexander appeared to be without fear. He commonly led the elite Macedonian Companion Cavalry into the thick of battle personally, and he received a number of dangerous wounds during his military career, none of which dampened his military ardor.

Having secured Persia's surrender, Alexander then moved south, conquering Syria, Palestine, much of modern Iraq, and eventually Egypt herself. He returned to Persia, destroyed the last of the Persian forces and took over the entire country. He continued east, eventually coming into contact with the great Indian King Porus, who fought him to a standstill. Alexander eventually won the conflict, but at such a heavy cost that his men begged him to end the campaign and let them return to their families. Alexander himself returned to rule his empire from the captured city of Babylon.

The Fall of Alexander[]

In eight short years of fighting, Alexander had conquered more territory than any other living being. He successfully led his forces into battle against all of the great nations of the day, but none could stand against him. He was the absolute ruler of the largest empire the world had ever seen.

Apparently he found this boring.

Once in Babylon, Alexander began an inexorable decline. He began drinking heavily and engaging in all kinds of available debauchery (and there was much debauchery to be found in Babylon). He became subject to fits of anger and bouts of paranoid delusion. One night, in a state of blind rage and under the influence of alcohol, Alexander murdered Clitus, his closest associate. This barbaric act was to haunt Alexander for the rest of his life - which wasn't very long.

In June of 323 BC, his body weakened by his excesses, Alexander died of malaria. He was 32 years old.

Judgment of History[]

"When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer."

This extraordinary man (and his father before him) conquered Greece, the Balkans, Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, Persia, and Asia as far east as Afghanistan. His empire did not long survive Alexander's death − it was simply too large for any mere mortal to hold − and it was divided between a number of Alexander's generals. But Alexander's conquests allowed Hellenic culture to spread across most of the known world, and Greek would become the language of culture, art and science for centuries to come.

With the exception perhaps of one or two religious leaders, no single man has had such a great effect upon western civilization as did Alexander the Great.


Alexander held a state funeral for his horse, Bucephalas, when it died in 326 BC. He also named a city in India "Bucephala" after his dead horse.

Unique Components[]


The hetairoi, or "companion cavalry," were elite horsemen who accompanied Alexander the Great into battle. The term "hetairoi" derives from the name of the Macedonian aristocracy, and the companion cavalry came from only the best Macedonian families (though later this was expanded to include the nobility of allied and subject peoples). Each cavalryman carried a "xyston" (thrusting spear) and "kopis" (curved sword), and wore a bronze cuirass, shoulder pads, and helmet.

In battle, Alexander usually held back the companions until the enemy was fully engaged with his phalanx units. Alexander himself would then lead his companions against the enemy's flank or rear, sowing confusion and dismay in the enemy army. The opposing forces never found a satisfactory answer to this combination, and with it Alexander conquered most of the known world.


One of the many strengths of the Macedonian army was in the Phalangitai, or ‘Men of the Phalanx,’ which would in turn go on to become the backbone of many Hellenistic armies, distancing them from the Hoplite-based affairs of the Classical Period. The main thing separating the Macedonian Phalangitai from their classical counterparts was the Sarissa spear, introduced by Phillip II – a weapon that could reach up to 6 meters and weighed anywhere from 5 to 6 kilograms. These monstrous weapons proved immensely successful- not just for their design, but for the way they revolutionised Greek military tactics.

The great length of the Sarissa yielded a large advantage over earlier Dory spears, increasing the amount of weapons faced by the enemy at the head of the Phalanx to the extent that an enemy could four to five rows of pikes before reaching the first rank of footsoldiers. The spears of the soldiers in the rows that could not reach the front of the formation would often be angled diagonally upwards in order to provide some shelter from arrows and missiles to the entire group. Whilst the synchronised movements and compact formations of the Phalangitai were an improvement upon the early infantry tactics of Ancient Greece – they still had unfortunate drawbacks.

The immense size of the Sarissa – which could be twice as long as their predecessors – meant that Macedonian infantry had to compromise on the size of their shields, though this was no great loss as often the bristling wall of spears provided more than enough protection for the front couple of rows of soldiers. The Compact formations used to maximise the effect of the Sarissa did exacerbate their unwieldiness however – and often the size of the weaponry would hamper and slow the movements of the Macedonian infantry. The oversized weaponry was also comparatively lacking in close range combat compared to the earlier designs – highlighting the idea that the strength of the sarissa came from the formation that it was utilised in.

It was the use of the Sarissa, and new military tactics that allowed first Phillip II and then his son, Alexander the Great to expand their domains at such a unprecedented rate. Often considered unbreakable from the front, the Phalangitai would often need to be successfully flanked to be disrupted. This was taken to extremes when at the Battle of Raphia (217 BC) it seemed that War Elephants would be required to break the lines of both the Seleucid and Ptolemaic phalanxes.



Corinth was an ancient Greek city-state in the northeastern part of the Peloponnesus peninsula in present day Greece. Neolithic pottery suggests that the site of Corinth was occupied from at least as early as 6500 BC. The site of Corinth was likely not heavily occupied until around 900 BC, when it is believed the Dorians settled there. The ancient myths portrayed Corinth as the site where Jason abandoned his wife Medea. Corinth had been a backwater in 8th-century Greece. The Bacchiadae, a tightly-knit Doric clan, were the ruling kinship group of archaic Corinth in the 8th and 7th centuries BC, a period of expanding Corinthian cultural power. In 747 BC, an aristocratic revolution ousted the Bacchiad kings. The royal clan of Bacchiadae dispensed with the kingship and ruled as a group, governing the city by electing annually a prytanis, who held the kingly position for his brief term. During Bacchiad rule, from 747 to 650 BC, Corinth became a unified state. In 733 BC, the city established colonies at Corcyra and Syracuse. In 657 BC, the polemarch Cypselus became the first tyrant of Corinth after seizing power and exiling the Bacchiadae. In the 7th century BC, under the rule of Cypselus (r 657-627 BC), and his son Periander (r. 627-585 BC), the city sent forth colonists to found new settlements, including Epidamnus (modern day Durrës, Albania), and Apollonia in Illyria. Corinth was one of the nine Greek sponsor-cities to found the colony of Naucratis in ancient Egypt. Periander was considered one of the Seven Wise Men of Greece. He was the first to attempt to cut across the Isthmus to create a seaway between the Corinthian and the Saronic Gulfs. This venture was abandoned due to extreme technical difficulties, but Periander had the Diolkos (a stone-built overland ramp) built instead. In 581 BC, Periander’s nephew and successor was assassinated.

In Classical times, Corinth rivaled Athens and Thebai in wealth. Until the mid-6th century, Corinth was a major exporter of black-figure pottery to city-states around the Greek world. There was a temple of Aphrodite, employing some thousand hetairas (temple prostitutes). The city was also the host of the Isthmian Games. The third main style of classical architecture after the Doric and the Ionic, the Corinthian order was developed. The city had two main ports, Lechaion to the west, and Kenchreai to the east on the Saronic Gulf. During the years 481-480 BC, the Conference at the Isthmus of Corinth established the Hellenic League to fight the war against Persia. In 435 BC, Corinth and its colony Corcyra went to war over Epidamnus. In 433 BC, Athens allied with Corcyra against Corinth. In 395 BC after the end of the Peloponnesian War, Corinth and Thebai moved to support Athens against Sparta in the Corinthian War. The conflicts weakened the city-states in the Peloponnese, setting the stage for the conquests of Philip II of Macedon. Corinth eventually fell under the control of Alexander the Great. In 308 BC, the city was captured from the Antigonids by Ptolemy I. It was recaptured by Demetrius in 304 BC, remaining in Antigonid control for half a century. After Roman intervention in 197 BC, the city was permanently brought into the Achaean League. The Achaeans went on to take control of the entire Peloponnesus and made Corinth the capital of their confederation.

In 146 BC, Rome declared war on the Achaean League. The Romans led by Lucius Mummius besieged and captured Corinth. All the men were put to the sword and the women and children sold into slavery. The site remained largely deserted until Julius Caesar refounded the city as Colonia Laus Iulia Corinthiensis in 44 BC, shortly before his assassination. Corinth once again became a major city in Southern Greece or Achaea. Corinth was mentioned many times in the New Testament, largely in connection with Paul the Apostle’s mission there. Paul wrote at least two epistles to the Christian community. The city was largely destroyed in the earthquakes of 365 AD and 375 AD, followed by Alaric’s invasion in 396. The city was rebuilt, but covered a much smaller area than previously. Four churches were located in the city proper, another on the citadel of the Acrocorinth, and a monumental basilica at the port of Lechaion. During the reign of Justinian I, a large stone wall was erected from the Saronic to the Corinthian gulfs, named Hexamilion. Corinth declined from the 6th century on. It became the capital of the theme of Hellas and later the Peloponnese. In the 9th century, the city began to recover and reached its apogee in the 11th and 12th centuries, when it was the site of a flourishing silk industry. An earthquake struck the city in November 856. The Sicilian Normans plundered Corinth in 1147 and it never fully recovered. In 1210, the Acrocorinth fell to the Crusaders, becoming a part of the Principality of Achaea, governed by the Villehardouins from their capital in Andravida in Elis. It was captured by the Ottomans in 1395 and by the Byzantines of the Despotate of the Morea in 1403. In 1458, Corinth was conquered by the Ottoman Turks, who renamed it Gördes. The Venetians captured it in 1687 and it remained under their control until 1715. The city was officially liberated from the Ottomans in 1832. It was one of the candidates for the new capital city of the recently founded Kingdom of Greece. The ruins remain a tourist attraction today.


Delphi was a city in central Greece, known for its oracle. It started to have a pan-Hellenic relevance as both a shrine and an oracle in the 7th century BC. The Delphic Oracle was consulted before major undertakings, such as wars, and the founding of colonies. Delphi was reclaimed by the Athenians during the First Sacred War (597-585 BC). This conflict resulted in the consolidated of the Amphictyonic League, which had both a military and a religious function centered around the protection of the Temple of Apollo. The shrine was destroyed by fire in 548 BC. The Second Sacred War (449-448 BC) resulted in the Phocians gaining control of Delphi and the management of the Pythian Games. In 356 BC, the Phocians, led by Philomelos, captured and sacked Delphi, leading to the Third Sacred War (356-346 BC). This conflict ended with the defeat of the Phocians, and the rise of Macedon under the reign of Philip II. In Delphi, Macedonian ruled was superseded by the Aetolians in 279 BC, and by the Romans in 191 BC. The site was sacked by Lucius Cornelius Sulla in 86 BC, during the Mithridatic Wars, and by the Emperor Nero in 66 AD. A Thracian tribe also raided the sanctuary in 83 BC, stealing the “unquenchable fire” from the altar. The Oracle fell into decay and the surrounding area became impoverished. Roman Emperor Hadrian is believed to have visited Delphi twice, offering complete autonomy to the city. Constantine the Great looted several of the monuments to decorate his new capital, Constantinople. Despite the rise of Christianity across the Roman Empire, the oracle remained a religious center throughout the 4th century, and the Pythian Games continued to be held at least until 424 AD. A large three-aisled basilica was built in the city, in addition to a church building in the sanctuary’s former gymnasium. Delphi was abandoned in the 6th or 7th centuries, but a single bishop of Delphi is attested in an episcopal list of the late 8th/early 9th centuries. During the Ottoman period, the village of Kastri was founded on the site. Before a systematic excavation of the archeological site could be undertaken, the village had to be relocated. However, the residents resisted. An earthquake damaged the village, and the villagers were offered a completely new village in exchange for the old one. In 1893, the French Archaeological School removed substantial quantities of soil from numerous landslides to uncover the major buildings and structures of the sanctuary of Apollo and of Athena Pronoia, as well as numerous artifacts. Now a UNESCO world heritage site, Delphi is popular with tourists.


Ephesus was a city located in Western Anatolia (modern day Turkey). The area surrounding it was already inhabited during the Neolithic Age (circa 6000 BC). During the Bronze Age, it may have been called Apasa, the capital of the Kingdom of Arzawa mentioned in Hittite sources. In 1954, a burial ground dating from the Mycenaean era (1500-1400 BC) was discovered close to the ruins of the basilica of St. John. Ephesus was founded as an Attic-Ionian colony in the 10th century BC on the Ayasuluk Hill. The mythical founder of the city was a prince of Athens, Androklos, who had to leave his home city after the death of his father. According to legend, he founded Ephesus on the spot where the Delphian oracle’s pronouncement became reality. The Artemis worshipped at Ephesus was a fusion of the Greek goddess Artemis and the Anatolian goddess Kybele. Her statue was many-breasted and venerated in the Temple of Artemis, one of the ancient Seven Wonders of the World. Circa 650 BC, Ephesus was attacked by the Cimmerians. After they were driven away, the city was ruled by a series of tyrants. A council ruled it after a revolt. Notable figures who came from the city included the elegiac poet Callinus, the iambic poet Hipponax, the philosopher Heraclitus, the great painter Parrhasius, the grammarian Zenodotos, and the physicians Soranus and Rufus. Around 560 BC, Ephesus was conquered by the Lydians led by King Croesus, who treated the people with respect and became a main contributor to the reconstruction of the temple of Artemis. After the defeat of Lydia by the Persians, the Ionians offered to make peace. Cyrus insisted they surrender and become part of the empire. They were defeated by the Persian general Harpagos in 547 BC, with the Greek cities of Asia Minor incorporated into the Achaemenid Empire. When taxes were raised under Cambyses II and Darius, the Ephesians participated in the Ionian Revolt against Persian rule in the Battle of Ephesus (498 BC). In 479 BC, the Ionians, together with Athens, were able to oust the Persians from the shores of Asia Minor. The next year, the Ionian cities formed the Delian League with Athens against the Persians. During the Peloponnesian War, Ephesus was first allied to Athens, but later sided with Sparta (which had received the support of the Persians). The cities of Ionia were ceded to Persia. In 356 BC, the temple of Artemis was burnt down, by an arsonist named Herostratus according to legend. An even larger and grander one was built in its place. After Alexander the Great defeated the Persians at the Battle of Granicus in 334 BC, the Greek cities in Asia Minor were liberated. Seeing that the temple of Artemis was not yet completed, he proposed to finance it and have his name inscribed on the front. The Ephesians did not accept his proposal, claiming that it was not fitting for one god to build a temple to another. After Alexander’s death in 323 BC, Ephesus came under the rule of one of his generals, Lysimachus in 290 BC. The river Cayster silted the harbor and the resulting marshes caused malaria among the people. They were forced to move to a new settlement two kilometres (1.2miles) away, officially named Arsinoea after Lysimachus’ second wife. Lysimachus was defeated and killed at the Battle of Corupedium in 281 BC. The town was again named Ephesus and it became part of the Seleucid Empire. Ptolemy III invaded and Ephesus fell under Egyptian rule between 263 and 197 BC. When Seleucid King Antiochus III the Great tried to regain the Greek cities in Asia Minor, he came into conflict with Rome. He was eventually defeated by Scipio Asiaticus at the Battle of Magnesia in 190 BC. Ephesus came under the rule of the Attalid King of Pergamon, Eumenes II. When his grandson Attalus III died without a male heir, he left his kingdom to the Roman Empire. Taxes rose considerably and the treasures of the city were plundered. In 88 BC, Ephesus welcomed Archelaus, a general of Mithridates the Great, king of Pontus, when he conquered Roman Asia. Around 80,000 Roman citizens were slaughtered. When the Ephesians saw how badly the people of Chios were treated by another of Mithridates’ general Zenobius, they refused entry to their city to his army. Ephesus became for a time, self-governing. After the defeat of Mithridates by Roman consul Lucius Cornelius Sulla, Ephesus went back to Roman rule in 86 BC. Sulla imposed a huge indemnity, along with five years of back taxes. When Augustus became emperor in 27 BC, he made Ephesus the capital of proconsular Asia. The city entered an era of prosperity, becoming the seat of the governor and a major center of commerce. Strabo claimed it was second in importance and size only to Rome. The population of Ephesus at this time is calculated to be between 138,000 and 172,500, with an alternate estimate giving the city a range of 33,600 to 56,000 inhabitants. The city was known for its Temple of Artemis, the Library of Celsus, and a theater capable of holding 25,000 spectators (later used for gladiatorial combat). Ephesus was sacked by the Goths in 263 AD, marking the decline of the city’s splendor. The Emperor Constantine I rebuilt much of the city and erected a new public bath. The Basilica of St. John was built during the reign of Emperor Justinian I in the 6th century. The importance of the city as a commercial center declined as the harbor was slowly silted up by the river. The ruins of the temples were used as building blocks for new homes. Sacks by the Arabs in the years 654-655 and in 700 and 716 hastened the city’s decline further. When the Seljuk Turks conquered Ephesus in 1090, it was but a small village. The Byzantines resumed control in 1097 and kept it until 1304. The town surrendered to a Turkish warlord, Sasa Bey. Contrary to the terms of the surrender, the Turks pillaged the church of St. John and deported most of the local population to Thyrea, Greece. The town experienced a short period of prosperity during the 14th century under the Seljuks. Ephesus was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire for the first time in 1390. After the defeat of the Ottomans by Tamerlane in 1402, the region reverted back to the Anatolian beyliks. It was once more incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in 1425. By the 15th century, Ephesus was completely abandoned. In 1863, the British architect John Turtle Wood, with the sponsorship of the British Museum, began to search for the Temple of Artemis. The pavement was discovered in 1869, but excavations stopped in 1874. In 1895, German archaeologist Otto Benndorf resumed excavations at Ephesus. In 1898, he founded the Austrian Archaeological Institute, which plays a leading role in Ephesus today. Finds from the site are exhibited in the Ephesos Museum in Vienna, the Ephesus Archaeological Museum in nearby Selçuk, and the British Museum. In 2015, Ephesus was declared a World Heritage Site. It is a popular tourist attraction in the area.


Epidauros was a city in what is now modern day Greece. It formed a small territory called Epidauria. It was reputed to be the birthplace of Apollo’s son, Asclepius the healer. The sanctuary was situated about five miles (8 km) from the town. Also present was a theatre. The cult of Asclepius at Epidaurus is attested in the 6th century BC. The asclepeion at Epidauros was the most celebrated healing center of the Classical world, a place where the sick went in the hopes of being cured. To find out the right cure for their ailments, they spent a night in the enkoimeteria, a big sleeping hall. In their dreams, the god himself would advise them what they had to do to regain their health. The fame and prosperity of Epidauros continued throughout the Hellenistic period. In 87 BC, the sanctuary was looted by the Roman general Sulla, and in 67 BC, it was plundered by pirates. In the 2nd century AD, the sanctuary enjoyed a new upsurge under the Romans, but the Goths raided it in 395 AD. Even after the introduction of Christianity and the silencing of the oracles, the sanctuary at Epidauros was still known as late as the mid-5th century, but as a Christian healing center. Now in ruins, Epidauros became a World Heritage site in 1988. Tourists still visit the site, especially its well preserved theatre.


Miletus was a city located in southwestern Anatolia (present-day Turkey). The site of the city was originally inhabited by a Neolithic population in the period 3500-3000 BC. Miletus was first mentioned in the records of the Hittite Empire and the Mycenaean records of Pylos and Knossos, during the Late Bronze Age. Starting around 1900 BC, Minoan trade goods arrived at Miletus. There was legend claiming the city’s foundation by the Cretans, as recounted by Strabo. Miletus was a Mycenaean stronghold from ca. 1450 to 1100 BC. In c. 1320 BC, the city supported an anti-Hittite rebellion in nearby Arzawa. Hittite king Mursili ordered his generals to raid Millawanda (as Miletus was called at the time), and they proceeded to burn parts of it. During the collapse of Bronze Age civilization, Miletus was burnt again. Myths tell of Ionians killing the men of Miletus and marrying their widows, beginning an enduring alliance between Athens and Miletus. It ended up as one of the twelve Ionian cities of Asia Minor. Miletus is also known to have ties with Megara. In the late 7th century BC, the tyrant Thrasybulus preserved the independence of Miletus during a 12-year war fought against Lydia. The city was an important center of philosophy and science, producing men like Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes. By the 6th century BC, Miletus had a maritime empire with colonies. It fell under Persian rule after Cyrus defeated Croesus of Lydia in the middle of the 6th century BC. In 499 BC, Milesian tyrant Aristagoras led the Ionian revolt against the Persians. It was quashed and Miletus was punished by Persia. The women and children were sold into slavery, and the men were either killed or turned into eunuchs. The intent was to make sure no Milesians were ever born again. In 334 BC, the city was liberated from Persian rule by Alexander the Great. During the Hellenistic period, Miletus reached its greatest extent. The city was mentioned in the New Testament as the site where the Apostle Paul met with the elders of the church of Ephesus, near the end of his third missionary journey in 57 AD. It seems like Paul made another visit to Miletus, perhaps as late as 65 or 66 AD. During the Byzantine period, the see of Miletus was raised to an archbishopric and later a metropolitan bishopric. A small castle was built on the hill next to the city. Seljuk Turks conquered the city during the 14th century, using it as a port for trade with Venice. As the harbor became silted up, Miletus was abandoned. The ruins of the city now lie some 10 km (6.2mi) from the sea. The first archaeological excavations at the site were conducted in 1873, and still continue today. The Market Gate of Miletus was transported piece by piece to Germany, currently residing at the Pergamon museum in Berlin. The main collection of artifacts from the site are in the Miletus Museum in Didim, Turkey.


Olympia was a city located in the Northwestern Peloponnese peninsula of present-day Greece. Remains of food and burnt offerings dating back to the 10th century BC give evidence of a long history of religious activity at the site. No buildings survived from this early period. The first Olympic festival was organized on the site by the authorities of Elis in the 8th century BC, with tradition dating the first games at 776 BC. Major changes were made to the site around 700 BC, including the levelling of land and the digging of new wells. Elis’ power diminished and at the beginning of the 7th century BC, the sanctuary went into the hands of the Pisatans in 676 BC. They organized the games until the late 7th century BC. The earliest evidence of building activity on the site dates from around 600 BC. The Skiloudians, allies of the Pisatans, built the Temple of Hera. The Treasuries and the Pelopion were built during the course of the 6th century BC. Secular structures and athletic arenas were also under construction during this period, including the Bouleuterion. The first stadium was constructed around 560 BC, consisting of just a simple track. It was remodeled around 500 BC with sloping sides for spectators and shifted slightly to the east. Over the course of the 6th century BC, a range of sporting events were added to the Olympic festival. In 580 BC, Elis, in an alliance with Sparta, occupied Pisa and regained control over the sanctuary.

The Classical period, between the 5th and 4th centuries BC, was the golden age of Olympia. A wide range of new religious and secular buildings and structures were constructed. The Temple of Zeus was built in the middle of the 5th century BC. Its size, scale and ornamentation was beyond anything previously constructed on the site. Its golden statue of Zeus was considered one of the seven wonders of the world by ancient writers. Sporting facilities, like the final iteration of the stadium, and the hippodrome were constructed. The Prytaneion was built at the northwest side of the site in 470 BC. In the late classical period, more structures were added to the site. The Metroon was built near the Treasuries circa 400 BC. The erection of the Echo Stoa, around 350 BC, separated off the sanctuary from the area of the games and stadium. The South Stoa was built at the southern edge of the sanctuary at approximately the same time. The late 4th century BC witnessed the erection of the Philippeion. Around 300 BC, the largest building on the site, the Leonidaion, was constructed to house important visitors. With the increasing importance of the games, further athletic buildings were constructed, including the Palaestra (3rd century BC), Gymnasion (2nd century BC), and bath houses (c.300 BC).

During the Roman period, the Olympic games were opened up to all citizens of the Roman Empire. A program of new buildings and extensive repairs, especially for the Temple of Zeus, took place. In 150 AD, the Nympheum was built. New baths replaced the older Greek ones in 100 AD, and an aqueduct were erected in 160 AD. The 3rd century saw the site suffer heavy damage from a series of earthquakes. Invading tribes in 267 AD led to the center of the site being fortified with robbed material from its monuments. The Olympic festival continued to be held at the site until the last Olympiad in 393 AD, after which the Christian emperor Theodosius I implemented a ban. The Temple of Zeus was apparently destroyed around 426 AD following an edict by Theodosius II enforcing the ban on pagan festivals. The workshop of Pheidias was turned into a basilica and the site was inhabited by a Christian community. Archaeological evidence suggests that small scale Olympic events (possibly in Christian guise) were still being held secretly until Justinian’s plague and two earthquakes devastated it by the mid-6th century. Repeated floods ensured that the settlement was finally abandoned in the early 7th century. The site was buried by ocean waters resulting from repeated tsunamis. Researchers figured this out due to the presence of mollusk, gastropod shells, and foraminifera at the site. The exact site was re-discovered in 1766 by the English antiquarian Richard Chandler. The first excavation of the sanctuary at Olympia was not carried out until 1829, by a French expedition. Since the 1870s, the excavation and preservation of Ancient Olympia has been the responsibility of the German Archaeological Institute at Athens. The site was inscribed on the World Heritage list in 1989. The legacy of the Olympic games lives on today.


Rodos is a city located on the island of Rhodes in the Aegean Sea. The city of Rodos was formed by the cities of Ialyssos, Kamiros and Lindos in 408 BC, and prospered for three centuries during its Golden Age, when sea trade, skilled shipbuilders, and open-minded politicians of the city kept it prosperous until Roman times. The Colossus of Rhodes, one of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World was built by the Lindian sculptor Chares between 304 and 293 BC, which took 12 years and was completed in 282 BC. The statue represented their sun god Helios, which stood at the harbor entrance. The ancient city had a well-constructed sewage system as well as a water supply network as designed by Hippodamus. A strong earthquake hit Rhodes about 226 BC, badly damaging the city and toppling the Colossus. In 164 BC, Rodos came under Roman control. It was able to keep its beauty and develop into a leading center of learning for arts and science. The Romans took from the Rhodians their maritime law and applied it to their shipping. Many traces of the Roman period still exist throughout the city and give an insight into the level of civilization at the time. According to Acts 21:1, the Apostle Paul stopped at Rodos near the end of his third missionary journey. In medieval times, Rodos was an important Byzantine trading post, as also a crossroads for ships sailing between Constantinople and Alexandria. In the early years of the divided Roman Empire, the Isaurians, a mountain tribe from Cilicia, invaded the island and burned the city. In the 7th century AD it was captured by the Arabs. The latter were the ones who removed the scattered pieces of the Colossus from the port and moved them to Syria where they destroyed them to make coins. After the fall of the Byzantine Empire to the Fourth Crusade in 1204, the native noble Leo Gabalas took control of the island, but after his death and succession by his brother John, the island was briefly occupied by the Genoese before being returned to the Emperor of Nicaea, though ushering in a new, but short-lived, Byzantine period. The Knights Hospitallers captured and established their headquarters on Rodos when they left Cyprus after the persecution of the Knights Templar in 1307. Pope Clement V confirmed the Hospitallers possession of the Island in 1309. The Knights remained on the Island for the next two centuries. In 1444, the Mamluk fleet of Egypt laid a siege to Rodos, but the Knights aided by the Burgundian naval commander Geoffroy de Thoisy beat off the Muslim attack. After the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, the Ottoman Empire began a rapid expansion and in 1480 Sultan Mehmet launched an invasion of Rodos commanded by Mesic Pasha. The defenders repelled Turkish attacks from both landward and seaward sides and the invaders left the Island in defeat. The defeat halted a concurrent invasion of the Italian peninsula by Ottoman forces and prevented possible Muslim incursion and control of Western Europe. After the Ottoman defeat in 1480 the Knights Grand Master, Pierre d'Aubusson, oversaw the strengthening of the cities over the next few decades. By the time of his death in 1521, Rodos possessed the strongest fortifications of any Christian Bastion in the World. The Knights continued naval attacks launched from Rhodes on Muslim merchants until 1522 when the newly enthroned Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent led a second Siege of Rhodes in 1522. The vastly outnumbered Knights made a spirited defense of the city and inflicted heavy casualties upon the Ottoman besiegers. In December 1522 the Knights and Suleiman came to terms and the Knights were allowed to leave the city with all the wealth they could carry, in return there would be no retribution upon the inhabitants of the city and they would be allowed to continue to freely practice Christianity. On January 1, 1523 the Knights departed from the island, leaving it to Ottoman control. In the Ottoman era, new buildings were constructed: mosques, public baths and mansions for the new patrons. The Greeks were forced to abandon the fortified city and move to new suburbs outside its walls. The city maintained its main economic function as a market for the agricultural products of the interior of the island and the surrounding small islands. After the establishment of their sovereignty on the island, the Ottoman Turks converted most of the churches into mosques and transformed the major houses into private mansions or public buildings. This transformation was a long-term process that aimed to adapt the buildings to the Ottoman way of living. The Knights period façades with their sculptured decorations, the arched gates and hewn stone walls were enriched with the random character of the Ottoman architecture adapted to the local climate and culture. In this process most of the architectural features of the existing buildings were preserved. The most characteristic additions were the baths (usually in the back of the buildings) and the enclosed wooden balconies on the façades over the narrow streets. In this way most of the buildings of the Hospitaliers' period in the Medieval Town were well preserved. The result was a mixture of oriental architecture with imposing western architectural remains and more recent buildings, which were characteristic of the local architecture of the time. In the 19th century, the city was the capital of the Eyalet of the Archipelago, but the decline of the Ottoman Empire resulted in the general neglect of the town and its buildings, which further deteriorated due to the strong earthquakes that often plague the area. In 1912 Italian troops took the island over with the rest of the Dodecanese Islands, and established an Italian possession known as Italian Islands of the Aegean in 1923. The father of Italian Rhodes can be considered the Italian architect Florestano Di Fausto. He, in agreement with governor Mario Lago, was author of the city plan of 1923, choosing to respect almost totally the walled town, only demolishing the houses that were built on and around the city walls during the Ottoman era. He also turned the Jewish and Ottoman cemeteries into a green zone surrounding the Medieval Town. At the same time, he designed the new Italian Rodos in the zone of the Mandraki, planning a Garden City, and building along the main sea promenade the main edifices, as the Market, the Cathedral of Saint John of the Knights, the Palace of the governor. All these building were designed in an eclectic style, mixing Ottoman, Venetian, Renaissance and local elements. The Italians preserved what was left from the Knights' period, and destroyed all Ottoman buildings. They also reconstructed the Grand Master's Palace. Furthermore, an Institute for the study of the History and Culture of the region was established, and major infrastructure work was done to modernize Rodos. The British bombs that fell on the medieval city of Rodos in 1944 claimed human lives and destroyed a great number of buildings, leaving large gaps in the urban tissue. One of the first Decrees of the Greek administration designated those areas as reserved for future excavations and a number of edifices as safeguarded buildings. In July 1944 the Nazis ordered the deportation of over 1,600 Jews of Rodos including men, women, and children of which 1,200 were murdered at Auschwitz. In 1957, a new city plan was approved by a Decree and in 1960 the entire medieval town was designated as a protected monument by the Ministry of Culture. In 1961 and 1963 new Decrees were issued concerning the new city plan. They provided for the widening of existing streets and the opening of new ones. These were not implemented in the old city due to the resistance of the Archaeological Service. In 1988, the old town of Rodos was designated as a World Heritage City by UNESCO.


Thebai was an ancient Greek city-state located in Boeotia, now central Greece. Many legends about the early days of Thebai were told among the Greeks. The foundation of the citadel Cadmeia was attributed to Cadmus, a Phoenician king from Tyre and the brother of Europa. Another famous mythical figure associated with Thebai is Oedipus, who murdered his father Laius and married his mother Jocasta. Excavations in Thebai have revealed graves dating to Mycenaean times containing weapons, ivory, and tablets written in Linear B. From the early days of its existence, the Thebans endeavored to establish a complete supremacy over their kinsmen in the outlying towns. In the late 6th century BC, the Thebans were brought for the first time into hostile contact with the Athenians, who helped the small village of Plataea to maintain its independence against them, and in 506 BC repelled an inroad into Attica. This enmity with Athens explains the unpatriotic attitude of Thebai during the Persian invasion of Greece (480-479 BC). Although a contingent of 400 was sent to Thermopylae and remained there with Leonidas before being defeated alongside the Spartans, the governing aristocracy soon after joined King Xerxes I of Persia and fought zealously on his behalf at the Battle of Plataea in 479 BC. The victorious Greeks subsequently punished Thebai by depriving it of the presidency of the Boeotian league. An attempt by the Spartans to expel the city-state from the Delphic amphictyony was only frustrated by the intercession of Athens. In 457 BC, Sparta, needing a counterpoise against Athens in central Greece, reversed its policy and reinstated Thebai as the dominant power in Boeotia. In the Peloponnesian War, the Thebans, embittered by the support that Athens gave to the smaller Boeotian towns (especially Plataea), were firm allies of Sparta. They destroyed Plataea in 427 BC. In 424 BC, the Thebans inflicted a severe defeat on an invading force of Athenians at the Battle of Delium.

After the downfall of Athens, the Thebans, having learned that Sparta intended to protect the states that Thebes desired to annex, broke off the alliance. In 403 BC, Thebai secretly supported the restoration of Athens’s democracy in order to find in it a counterpoise against Sparta. A few years later, they formed the nucleus of the league against Sparta. At the Battle of Haliartus (395 BC) and the Battle of Coronea (394BC), the Thebans proved their rising military capacity by standing their ground against the Spartans. The result of the war was disastrous to Thebai, as the general settlement of 387 BC stipulated the complete autonomy of all Greek towns and so withdrew the other Boeotians from its political control. In 382 BC, a Spartan force occupied the citadel. It was expelled three years later, and a democratic constitution was set up in place of the traditional oligarchy. In the consequent wars with Sparta, the Theban army, trained and led by Epaminondas and Pelopidas, proved itself formidable. In 371 BC, the Thebans won a victory over the Spartans at Leuctra. They marched into the Peloponnesus and at the head of a large coalition, permanently crippled the power of Sparta. With the death of Epaminondas at the Battle of Mantinea (362 BC), the city sank again to the position of a secondary power. It invited Philip II of Macedon to crush the Phocians. In 338 BC, the orator Demosthenes persuaded Thebai to join Athens in a final attempt to bar Philip’s advance on Attica. They lost at the battle of Chaeronea. An unsuccessful revolt in 335 BC against his son Alexander the Great was punished with the destruction of the city, except, according to tradition, the house of the poet Pindar and the temples. The Thebans were mainly sold into slavery, with only the priests, leaders of the pro-Macedonian party and descendants of Pindar spared.

Thebes was re-established in 315 or 316 BC by Cassander. However, it never returned to its former prominence or power. It was besieged and taken by Demetrius Poliorcetes in 293 BC and again after a revolt in 292 BC. The city recovered its autonomy from Demetrios in 287 BC, and became allied with Lysimachus and the Aetolian League. During the early Byzantine period, it served as a place of refuge against foreign invaders. From the 10th century, Thebai became a center of the new silk trade. By the middle of the 12th century, the city had become the biggest producer of silks in the entire Byzantine empire. Though severely plundered by the Normans in 1146, Thebai quickly recovered its prosperity until its conquest by the Latins of the Fourth Crusade in 1204. After 1240, the Saint Omer family controlled the city jointly with the de la Roche dukes. Latin hegemony in Thebai lasted to 1458, when the Ottomans captured it. It was under Ottoman control until the War of Independence, except for a brief Venetian occupation between 1687 and 1699. The present day Thebai is a bustling market town. Its proximity to other, more famous travel destinations and the undeveloped archaeological sites have kept the tourist numbers low.