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Sikyon the capital of a small district known as Sikyonia, is believed to be one of the oldest of Greek cities. Even thought the name Sikyon means figs, the region was renowned in ancient times (and continues to be two millennia later) for its olive oil and almonds. It was an artistic center during Classical times, its bronze sculpture made famous by Aristokles, Kanakhos, Polykleitos, and Lysippos.
Its academy of painting, established by Eupompos, was exceptional, producing renowned artists such as Pausias and Pamphilos, the master of Apelles, and endured till Hellenistic times. The local dress from Sikyonia was also admired, and in particular, the shoes.
The ancient city lay in the plain, and the later one (founded by Demetrios Poliorketes) on the acropolis, both of them close to the Asopos River, according to Classical tradition to be an extension of the Maeander, which flowed beneath the sea from near Miletus.
The old Greek word for 'cucucumber' gave this city its name, but its earlier name was Aigialeia, probably from the Aigialaean Ionians (coast-dwelling Ionians) who founded it, later calling it Mekone. The city had a series of heroic kings, including the Argive Adastus, who was the only survivor of the Seven Against Thebes. According to Homer, Adastus was the commander of the Sikyonian contingent to Troy.