Thursday, December 06, 2007

Eastern Macedonia, Mygdonia

General Information:
Herodotus description (VII, 123-127) of Xerxes march through Mygdonia constitutes the most ancient reference of the name of this district. Unfortunately the mythological record of Mygdonia remains scanty. As regards the name of this region, it was suggested that it derived from:
  • Mygdon, son of Ares and Kalliope, brother of Edonos, Odomantos and Biston, and father of Krousis and Grastos (Apollodorus B', 519)
  • a compound word consisting of «Mu» (=the letter that in the Phoenician alphabet stood for water) + «chthon» (=land), referring thus to the geophysical picture of the area
  • Mygdones, the local tribe.

Herodotus (VII, 124) also mentioned that Echedoros ran through Mygdonia, but it had its sources in Krestonia, implying thus that Krestonia lay to the north of Mygdonia. Consequently, the sources or the river Echedoros along with prolongations of Mts. Chortiates and Vertiscos formed the northern boundaries. Pliny (IV, 41), ignoring the existence of Bisaltia claimed that Mygdonia extended to the east as far as the river Strymon

According to the ancient sources and the archaeological theories, the initial inhabitants of this region were Pelasgians, since the Pelasgian kingdom extended as far as the Strymon (Aeschylus, Iketides, 253)] and Paiones as implied by Strabo's testimony (VII, fr.41) that Paionians occupied Mygdonia, once in the old time and then later and the theory of the habitation of Paionians to the area east of Axios from the end of Late Neolithic Era and on. Hammond (Macedonia:4000 years of Greek History, page 67) and Borza (page 75, the Shadow in Olympus) in the 6th century BC Paiones, as a result of the consequences of the Kimmerian migration re-entered Mygdonia and either pushed Mygdones to the east or ruled over them [ relying on Strabo's testimony (VII, fr.41) that Paionians occupied Mygdonia later as well and the discovery of Paionian coins in Lete (site of Mygdonia).

The annexation of Mygdonia -which serves as the starting point in the Macedonian history of this district- evidently took place in two phases. Namely, although Amyntas occupied the southwestern part of Mygdonia since he was able to offer Anthemous (lying to the southwest of Mygdonia) to Hippias (Herodotus V, 94), the eastern part remained independent (since Lete for instance issued coins bearing its own name till 480 BC)329. However, the rest of Mygdonia was incorporated by Alexander I after the Persian retreat. In an earlier period, Mygdonia, because of its key-position, had served as the camp of Xerxes' army and the main port of his navy (Herodotus VII, 124,127).

Mygdonia was secured as an integral part of the Macedonian Kingdom after Philip II's enthronement. Alexander the Great, in order to honour his Mygdonian army troop, gave the name of Mygdonia to a place in Mesopotamia (Pliny VI, 16). Moreover, Kassander in 315 BC, founded there Thessalonike, a very important site. During the struggles among the successors, Mygdonia was separated from L.M. districts only in 287/6 BC, when Pyrrhos and Lysimachos divided between them the Macedonian Kingdom (Pausanias I, 10.2).


The combination of the literary, historical and archaeological evidence led to the assumption that Mygdonia included at least the below mentioned sites: Therme, Thessalonike, Sindos, Chalastra, Lete, Apollonia, Arethousa, Bormiskos, Kalindoia, Xylopolis, Terpyllos, Karabia, Assiros, Antigoneia, Physka, Bairos, Bolbe, Altos, and Phileros.


  • Demitsas M, Ancient Geography of Macedonia,1879
  • Nicholas Hammond, History of Macedonia Vol 1, 1972, Greek edition (1996)
  • Sakellariou, Macedonia: 4000 Years of Greek History, 1982
  • Nikolaos Martis, the Falsification of Macedonian History
  • Maria Girtzi, Historical topography of ancient Macedonia,2001

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