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Ancient Abdera (Avdira) Thrace (26km from Xanthi)

Avdira map from Xanthiclick to see larger map MacedoniaThracian Abdera (pronounced 'Avdira'). The ancient city was, according to tradition, founded by Iraklis (Hercules) on the spot where Avdhiros was killed by Diomede's horses, but it was in fact colonized around 656BC from Klazomenai and refounded by refugees from a Persian occuptaiton of Teos near Smyrna. It became a prominent member of the Delian League and was noted for its beautiful coins.

Several important persons were born here, including the philosopher Democritus ( who, in the 5th century BC, put forth an atomic theory), Protagoras, 481-411BC, who was the first of the Sophists, and Alexander the Great's counselor, Anaxarchos. The city was important in Early Christian and Byzantine times and a fortress called 'Polystylon' was bult on the Classical acropolis. It was the seat of a bishop in the 9th centuryAC.

houses, tombs, workshopsThe Greek Archaeological Service began excavation in Avdhira in 1950, under the direction of D. Lazaridhis. On the acropolis of Polystylon are a small single aisled church dating from the 12th century with a cemetery near it from the same period.

The Byzantine fortifications were built over the Classical, the two types of masonry easily discernible. There is a square Classical period tower and a bath house with hypocaust type heating (hot water pipes under the floor).

The ancient harbor mole can be made out within the lines of the modern breakwater. On the highest part of the promontory is a three aisled Early Christian basilika (600AD), with an octagonal baptistery.

The wall ciruit of the ancient city, 5.5km in total length, has been traced. The most exciting remains on the main site is the Roman Bath building, the city wall and the Late Roman houses. Sarcophagi were inserted during Roman burials into a large square structure called a forward tower.

The gateway to the city is also protected by two square towers. The house remains not so interesting to most visitors, but some had paved courts with wells and drainage channels, column bases, threshold blocks and outlines of rooms. The layout of the town was a grid system from the 4th century. The site is not particularly attractive, and the best finds have been removed to museums in Kavala and Komotini.