Report on the School's Activity in 2019

Jenifer Neils (Director of the American School)


"Ancient Methone: An Industrial Center and Harbor in the North Aegean"

John Papadopoulos (University of California, Los Angeles)

In 354 B.C., the ancient city of Methone, a close ally of Athens, was besieged by Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great. As one of the largest cities of the north Aegean, Methone strategically controlled all the approaches to the Thermaic Gulf, denying the Macedonians free access to the Aegean and the Mediterranean beyond. In the course of the siege, Philip not only destroyed the city, allowing those that survived to leave with just the clothes on their backs, but he famously lost his right eye, stuck by an arrow or bolt from Asteros of Methone. Excavations at the site by the Ephoria of Pieria since 2003, and as a collaboration between the Ephoria and UCLA under the auspices of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens since 2014, have uncovered a thriving settlement, continuously occupied since the Late Neolithic period. Traditionally colonized by the Eretrians from Euboia in the 8th century B.C., Methone thrived as a harbor town and industrial center, from the Bronze Age to its destruction in 354 B.C. Perched between the Aegean, inland Macedonia, the Balkans and the Mediterranean, Methone served as a conduit for the movement of commodities, peoples, and ideas across a large area of the Greek world, involving Mycenaeans, Euboians, Athenians, eastern and northern Greeks and indigenous tribes, as well as Phoenicians and Phrygians, in both prehistory and history. During the Early Iron Age, Methone played a major role in the origin and development of the Greek alphabet, contributing especially to the issue of the locale for its transmission from the Phoenician alphabet, a process with major cultural ramifications. Ancient Methone was a highly networked site that formed a middle ground between different cultures across three millennia.