Ancient Pella - History

Few landscapes have changed form as radically from classical antiquity as that around ancient Pella. The vast current plain that stretches to the south of the city was formed during the last two millennia by the alluvium of the three great rivers that flow into this region: Axios to the east, Loudias to the west and Aliakmonas, which then flowed to the south of Thermaikos bay.

The origin of the name Pella is not known; besides unfounded mythological assignments, the name is often assigned to the adjective “pellos”, which means dark, named after the color of the alluvium, or, it is assigned to  Hesychios’ recording that the stones were called “pellas” in the Macedonian dialect, and the city was built on rocky ground, on the foot of three hills.

According to Herodotus, the city was located by the sea in the Classical period. About the end of the 5th cent. BC., a short period after the end of the Persian war, the Macedonian king, Archelaos, moved the capital from Aigai to Pella. The strategic location of Pella matched the new pursuits of the Macedonians, since apart from the port, it was also a transport hub to the four points of the horizon, where the kingdom was to be expanded. Already in 380 BC. Xenophon characterized Pella as “the largest of the Macedonian cities”. The city reached its greatest extent and prosperity after the reign of Alexander the Great and his victorious campaign to the East. It remained capital of the Macedonian kingdom until the defeat of the Macedonians by the Romans in 168 BC. Afterwards the city continued to prosper in terms of population and trade until its destruction by an earthquake about 90 BC. Part of the population continued to live in the southern part of the city until the founding of the Roman province of Pella by Augustus  1,5 km. west of the old city in 30 BC.

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