Saturday, December 15, 2007

Upper Macedonia, Eordaia

General Information:
Thucydides passage (II, 100) referring to the expulsion of the Eordaioi from Eordaia constitutes one of the earlier mentions of the name of this region. Unfortunately, the mythological evidence for this district remains almost non-existent.

As regards its name, the only safe suggestion is that it was named after the local tribe of Eordaioi.

In Strabo's description (VII, 323) of the route (from west to the east) of the Via Egnatia, Eordaia appeared before Edessa, therefore, it is assumed that Eordaia lay to the west of Emathia Mountain Bermion formed the eastern boundary as far as the plateau of Edessa that served as the northeastern border. A branch of Bermion was also the southern frontier. Finally, Mts. Vitsi and Boras designated the western and northern boundaries respectively.

As regards the pre-Macedonian ethnography of this area, Professors Maria Girtsi and Nicholas Hammond suggested that in the pre Macedonian period Pelasgoi, Paiones (a theory that coincides with Pliny's mention (IV, 10) that some Paiones lived once in Eordaia), Phryges (a theory that was combined with Herodotus'testimony (VIII, 138) that Midas' kingdom stretched around the foothills of Bermion), Illyrians etc. occupied for sometime some parts of Eordaia. However, among those tribes -that constituted in several periods minorities- there was a dominant local tribe, the Eordaioi (Thucydides II, 99).

Unfortunately, as regards their origin, there is no secure evidence, apart from some unreliable suggestions (e.g. Pelasgian or Paionian or Illyrian descent), that were not based on conclusive information.

Nevertheless, Macedonians according to Thucydides (II, 99) killed the majority of Eordaioi and forced the others to migrate to Physka. Those violent acts of the Macedones were justifiable by the fact that Eordaia was about to constitute the western frontier with the other U.M. districts and Illyria, and thus any danger of internal revolt (by the locals) had to be avoided.

As regards the date of the annexation of Eordaia, that served as the starting point in the Macedonian history of this district, although there is no exact evidence, Alexander's I reign served as a «terminus ante quem» (Thucydides II, 99). Moreover, Eordaia was affected (either as a separate area, or as an already incorporated part of Macedonia) by the Persian presence, since Eordaioi were included in Xerxes' army troops (Herodotus VII, 185).

Sites :
In Eordaia belonged at least the below mentioned sites: Arnissa, Kellai, Bokeria, Galadrai, Kranna, and Greia . Moreover, a list of unidentified archeological sites.

Thucydides (IV, 128) testified that Arnissa was the first site (to the west) of the Macedonian Kingdom -in the time of Perdikkas II. Therefore, according to our knowledge that the western district at this era was Eordaia, Arnissa should belong to it. Consequently, Ptolemy's (III, 13.20) mention of an Arnissa as a site of Taulantioi either concerned another homonymous site or constituted an error. Moreover, Leake placed it in the vale of Ostrovo, while Samsares located it near modern Arnissa (ex. Ostrovo) where some ancient remains have been come to light. Hammond on the other hand, relying on Thucydides' passage, placed it in modern Petres, which seems more plausible as the site of Kellai (as will be evident below). Evidently, there is still a lot more to be done, so as to secure the location and define the status of the site.

Hierocles («Synecdeme», 638.11) included in his account of the stations of the Via Egnatia, a site called «Kellai», the additional information by the Antonine itinerary, (319-320 and 330.3-7 ) Itinerary Burdigalense (605-606) that Kellai lay between Herakleia and Edessa, at a distance of 40metres and 30metres respectively, led to its location in the district of Eordaia. There are several suggestions like Demetsas as regards its exact location (e.g. modern Arnissa, modern Amyndaion etc.), however the most plausible one is that it was situated on modern Petres, a site that coincides with the distances given by the Itineraries. Moreover, at mound Gradista (500m northwest of Petres) has been discovered an ancient site, organised in terraces.


A milestone of a 4th-3rd century BC road, mentioning «from Bokeria 100 stadia», found recently in modern Kirli Derven, led to the assumption that a site called Bokeria could belong to Eordaia. Desdevises-du-Dezert Demetsas on the other hand, had earlier claimed that a site called Begora -being named after the lake Begoritis or vice versa- should have existed, although it was not mentioned by any ancient writer.

Lycophron (1342, 1444 ) mentioned that a Galadrai belonged to Eordaia, while Stephanos Byzantius identified it as a Pierian site. The lexicographer placed it at the south extremity of Eordaia; however, the controversy of the ancient sources, along with the lack of any other evidence, prevents any further discussion.

Professor Maria Girtsi state in his book that a Roman inscription (SEG 1, mentioning a man from Kranna of Eordaia, implied the existence of such a site, at least in the Roman era. The lack of any other evidence prevents any suggestion for its location or any further assumption.

Professor Maria Girtsi state in his book that a Hellenistic inscription found in the vicinity of Eordaia,(kanatsoulis p.2] )and referring to the site of Greia, attested the existence of such a site, at least in the late Hellenistic era. However, the lack of any supportive information does not allow the secure identification of its location or any further comment.

In Florina, Agios Panteleimon, Amyntaio, Kastro, Ammochorion, Beuve, Ano Kleinai, Palaistra and Kato Kleinai have find traces of late Classical-Hellenistic habitation architectural remains, houses, roads, pottery sherds, figurines and coins .


  • 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, 1984
  • Eugene Borza, the Shadow of Olympus,1993
  • Maria Girtzi, Historical topography of ancient Macedonia,2001

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