Apollonia Pontica

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The Roman settlements on the southwest Black Sea coast

Apollonia was an ancient city on the western Black Sea at the southern exit of the Burgas Bay on the site of today's Sozopol in Bulgaria . To distinguish it from other cities of the same name, it was given the suffix Pontica ( ancient Greek Ἀπολλωνία Ποντική Apollonia Pontike , Latinized Apollonia Pontica , Bulgarian Аполония Понтийска Apolonija Pontijska ).

Apollonia had two sheltered harbors and thus offered a favorable location for seafaring, its economy in the 5th and 4th centuries BC. BC was based on copper ore, wine, grain and fishing. During the Roman conquest in 72 BC The city was plundered and destroyed.


The city was given the name Apollonia by its Greek founders in honor of the god Apollon , who was worshiped here as a healer . In order to distinguish it from other cities of the same name , it was also referred to with the addition of the name Pontike ( ancient Greek Ἀπολλωνία Ποντική Apollonia Pontike , Latinized Apollonia Pontica , "Apollonia on the (Black) Sea ") or the addition of the name Magna ("the great one").

In the course of Christianization in late antiquity , Apollonia was renamed in ancient Greek Σωσόπολις Sosopolis (Greek for "city of salvation / redemption / salvation"). The exact time of the name change is not known, so in the 4th century the name Apollonia can still be found in the Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus and in the Tabula Peutingeriana .


Apollonia Pontica on the Tabula Peutingeriana (red arrow)

The city has been in the since the beginning of the 1st millennium BC. Area populated by Thracians according to the information in Pseudo-Skymnos 610 BC. Founded by Greeks from Miletus as one of the earliest Greek colonies in the Black Sea region. Stephanos Byzantios names Greeks from Miletus and Rhodes as the founders of Apollonia.

The exact circumstances of the founding and settlement of Apollonia are unknown. The research assumes a coastal area with a relatively pronounced Thracian presence at the beginning of the Greek colonization. Apollonia became the first port that seafarers could approach on their passage to the north after passing the Bosphorus , as no Greek colony arose on today's Turkish west coast of the Black Sea south of Cape Thynias ( İğneada Burnu). This circumstance is due on the one hand to the relatively unfavorable coastal configuration and on the other hand to the hostile attitude of the Thracian tribes settling there, as can be seen from written sources.

In and around Apollonia several Early Iron Age harbor places are known, but they do not provide any detailed information about the settlement of the Greeks. Thus, at the same time as Antheia, another settlement was established near Apollonia . The place was apparently only an Apoikia and never achieved the status of a polis , it was possibly merged with Apollonia by Synoikismos . Pliny reports that Antheia was in the area of ​​the Astiki, where Apollonia is today. The interpretation of this passage that Antheia was an earlier name of Apollonia is based on a misunderstanding. In view of the lack of systematic excavations, as the settlement area is now in the area of ​​a military base, no chronological statements can be made about Antheia. In science, however, the opinion prevails that Antheia must have been important in archaic times, as a headless archaic kouros (around 550-540 BC) and archaic ceramics, which are now kept in the Archaeological Museum in Burgas , come from there . Whether Anchialos as early as the 6th century BC BC was a base of the Apollonia, is also not yet clear. The settlement was probably at the extreme point of the once much larger peninsula of Pomorie and later sank into the sea.

The actual urban settlement of Apollonia was on the now densely built-up peninsula Skamnij of Sozopol and on the offshore island Sweti Kirik . Although larger area excavations are not possible due to the modern development, investigations at several points in the city, such as in the area of ​​St. George's Church and in the streets Drava, Apolonija No. 82 and Morski skali, have unearthed settlement materials that go back to the archaic period . The neighboring Kirik Island was once much larger and connected to the Skamnij Peninsula by a strip of land. Since the navy cleared the Sweti Kirik Island in 2005 and the Bulgarian government transferred it to the city in 2007, intensive excavations have been taking place there since 2009. These are headed by Krastina Panayotova . According to Strabo , most of the Milesian settlement and the sanctuary of Apollo was on it.

According to the late antique tradition in the Periplus Ponti Euxini , Apollonia had two large ports located in sheltered bays and thus offered a favorable location for seafaring . According to Manfred Oppermann, the area between the north coast of the city and the Sweti-Iwan Island and, on the other hand, a harbor basin southwest of the Sweti Kirik Island would come into question. The polis also had three fortified districts that were outside the city walls, one on the island of Sweti Kirik, one south of the new town on the Budschaka peninsula and one on the hills of the mainland above the old town. Other fortified settlements were to the north, on today's Atija , Chrisotira and Akin peninsulas . Apollonia had a theater , an agora and a gymnasium .

In the centuries that followed, the territory of this Greek city-state comprised the coastal land from Anchialo in the north to Tiniada in the south. In the northeast, Apollonia bordered the area of ​​local Thracian princes who had their seat on the hill Schiloto near Burgas and who traded with Apollonia via the Emporion (market) in what is now Sladkite kladenci . In the southeast, the polis bordered the Thracian tribes in the Strandscha Mountains and the later Thracian kingdom of the Odryses .

The earliest Greek pottery dates from the 7th century BC. BC, in the 6th century BC Ceramics from Ionia can be proven. In the 5th century BC The imported ceramics come almost exclusively from Athens, which documents the close relationship with Athens, which is also documented by inscriptions.

Apollonia was a member of the First Attic League and is in the tribute list from 425/424 BC. Listed.

Middle of the 5th century BC The daughter city of Anchialos was founded on the opposite side of the Bay of Burgas to control the sea route . In the 4th century BC BC political turmoil shook the city.

The autonomous status of Apollonia and Mesembria , Odessos , Kallatis and Tomis was recognized by a treaty of Philip II after the Macedonian conquest of Thrace . When Lysimachus wrote himself in 306/5 BC In the 3rd century BC he was crowned king of Thrace and further Diadoch Wars broke out, Apollonia entered into an alliance with the other four cities on the western Black Sea coast, the Pontic Pentapolis . In the 3rd century BC In BC it finally stepped back in importance to Mesembria. The dispute with Mesembria over control of the salt mines in the Burgasseen led in the 2nd century BC. To a war from which Apollonia emerged victorious.

74 BC During the Third Mithridatic War (74–63 BC), Apollonia Pontica entered into an alliance with the Pontic king Mithradates VI to strengthen his defense . Eupator and the Bessen . Thanks to this covenant, the first Roman assault on the city was repelled. 72 BC The second attack followed, this time under the new Roman proconsul of Macedonia, Marcus Terentius Varro Lucullus . After defeating the Thracian Bessen and taking the cities of Uscudama and Kabile , Lucullus destroyed Apollonia and kidnapped the colossal statue of Apollon created by Kalamis to Rome , where it was placed on the Capitol as a trophy.

After Apollonia came under Roman rule, its role declined in favor of Deultum and Anchialus . The city was initially subordinated to the Thracian Empire of Odrysen , which at that time was a Roman protectorate. After the end of the Thracian Empire, Apollonia was incorporated into the Roman province and later diocese of Thrace .

In the 4th century AD the city was destroyed by the Goths .


Coin of Apollonia
Coins of Apollonia

Finds of arrowheads were made in Apollonia and are considered to be a premium currency.

From the middle of the 5th century BC. Until the 2nd century BC BC coins were minted in Apollonia, mostly of silver and bronze. On the face of its coins, the city always used the anchor as a symbol of its importance as a port city, usually with the point up. The coins were marked with the letter A next to the anchor as a symbol of the city . In the past, these coins were wrongly assigned to Abydos in Troas , Astakos in Bithynia or Apollonia in Mysia . The crab is another symbol next to the anchor. On the back the Gorgoneion is initially embossed, later the head or the entire figure of their main god Apollo. Another early image on the reverse is the swastika .

During the Roman Empire, the city minted coins from Domitian to Gordian III. , occasionally labeled A AufOΛΛΩNIHTEΩN ΕΝ ΠΟΝΤΩ .

Countless counterfeits of the early coins of Apollonia have appeared in the coin trade since the 1990s.


The cult of Apollon played a central role in Apollonia. An important temple of the god and patron saint was built at the time the city was founded; there was also the in the 2nd quarter of the 5th century BC. 30 cubits high colossal bronze cult image of the god created by Kalamis . The temple was dedicated to Apollon Ietros and is mentioned in three ancient inscriptions and depicted on coins. The epithet Ietros literally means healer (German: Apollon the healer ), but according to Manfred Oppermann it generally indicates the protective aspect of this deity. His cult is also documented in Histria , Olbia and Pantikapaion , but cannot be proven outside the Black Sea region. The temple of Apollon Ietros was also the main temple of the entire region, in which other smaller temples (such as the temples of Apollon Mousagetes (i.e. Apollo as the Muse leader ) and Apollon Carneios near today's Burgas) were built.

Artemis , the goddess of the hunt, of the forest and the guardian of women and children, was honored by annual so-called Brauronia , large festivals with musical and knightly competitions. In addition, Aphrodite and Hecate were worshiped; these goddesses also received large temples. Furthermore Demeter and Persephone were in a between the 6th and 3rd century BC. Existing common temple complex on Cape Skamnij honored. Another central role is assumed behind the cult of Dionysus Zagreus . From the late 6th century BC The goddess of the family and state hearth, Hestia , the chthonic goddess and personified earth, Gaia , and Poseidon were worshiped.


The necropolis of ancient Apollonia has been archaeologically examined since the 19th century. The most famous of them are located in the area of ​​today's Sea Garden ( 42 ° 25 ′ 15 ″  N , 27 ° 41 ′ 38 ″  E ) between the old town and the new town and in the areas of Charmanite, Budschaka (Bulg. Буджака ) and Kalfata. The latter was u. a. 2002–2007 in a project led by Antoine Hermary and Krastina Panajotowa . Recent excavations have brought to light important finds from the Thracian period (8th and 7th centuries BC). They were rich in Greek black- and red-figure pottery, which testifies to an early influence of the Greeks.



  • Georgi Michailow: Inscriptiones Graecae in Bulgaria repertae. Volume 1. Editio altera emendata: Inscriptiones orae Ponti Euxini. Sofia 1970, pp. 343-398.


  • Edith Schönert-Geiß : Bibliography on ancient numismatics of Thrace and Moesia. Akademie Verlag, Berlin 1999, ISBN 3-05-003286-3 . Pp. 563–600 (with all older literature).
  • Stavri Topalov: Аполония Понтика. Приноси към проучване монетосеченето на града VI-I в. пр. н. е. (English Resume: Apollonia Pontica. Contribution to the Study of the Coin Minting of the City 6th-1st c. BC ). 2 volumes. Sofia 2007, ISBN 954-8556-04-9 .

Web links

Commons : Apollonia Pontica  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Pomponius Mela 2, 22 full text .
  2. Sozopol. Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, accessed June 6, 2012 (Bulgarian).
  3. Hoddinott, pp. 33-41
  4. Ammianus Marcellinus: Res gestae 22, 8, 43.
  5. Eckhard Wirbelauer : Apollonia 2, Pontike. In: The New Pauly (DNP). Volume 1, Metzler, Stuttgart 1996, ISBN 3-476-01471-1 , Sp. 871.
  6. Nedew, Panajotowa 2003, pp. 95-96.
  7. Pseudo-Skymnos 728-730; Didier Marcotte: Géographes grecs 1. Introduction générales. Ps.-Scymnos: Circuit de la Terre. Les Belles Lettres, Paris 2000, p. 132 with Greek text and French translation, commentary, pp. 80–82; Strabon , Geography 7, 319.
  8. Stephanos Byzantios : Ethnika sv Ἀπολλωνία.
  9. Xenophon , Anabasis 7, 5, 13-14; Strabon 7, 6, 1. Cf. Manfred Oppermann : Thracians, Greeks and Romans on the west coast of the Black Sea. , P. 6.
  10. Gocha R. Tsetskhladze: Greek colonization of the Black Sea Area. In: Gocha R. Tsetskhladze (Ed.): The Greek Colonization of the Black Sea Area. Historical Interpretation of Archeology. Steiner, Stuttgart 1998. ISBN 3-515-07302-7 , p. 16.
  11. ^ Manfred Oppermann: Characteristics of the Greek colonization on the western Pontus. In: Eurasia Antiqua 11 (2005) p. 5; Manfred Oppermann: Thracians, Greeks and Romans on the west coast of the Black Sea. , P. 8.
  12. Pliny : Naturalis historia 4, 45: Astice regio habuit oppidum Anthium, nunc est Apollonia .
  13. ^ Georgi Mihailow: Inscriptiones Graecae in Bulgaria repertae. Vol. 1 Editio altera emendata: Inscriptiones orae Ponti Euxini. Sofia 1970. pp. 343-344 (with the older literature); Benjamin H. Isaac: The Greek settlements in Thrace until the Macedonian conquest. Brill, Leiden 1986. ISBN 90-04-06921-6 . P. 241 note 170.
  14. Manfred Oppermann: Thracians, Greeks and Romans on the west coast of the Black Sea. , P. 8.
  15. ^ Strabo, 7, 6, 1.
  16. See TIB; Periplus Ponti Euxini, ed.Karl Müller : Geographi Graeci minores Vol. 1, Paris 1855, pp. 421, 85.
  17. Manfred Oppermann: Thracians, Greeks and Romans on the west coast of the Black Sea. , P. 16.
  18. See: Hoddinott, pp. 33-35; Ivan Karajotow, Stojan Rajtschewski, Mitko Ivanov: История на Бургас. От древността до средата на ХХ век. (German history of the city of Burgas. From antiquity to the middle of the 20th century. ), Verlag Tafprint OOD, Plovdiv, 2011, ISBN 978-954-92689-1-1 , pp. 18-26; Iwan Karajotow, Petja Kijaschkina, Konstantin Gospodinow: Бургас: Вечното пристанище ( Eng . Burgas: The Eternal Port City. ) Verlag Жажда, 2000, ISBN 978-954-9639-64-3 , pp. 58–61.
  19. IG II 2, No. 130.
  20. Inscriptiones Graecae (3), I, fasc. I, No. 7l, IV, 128.
  21. Soustal, p. 175
  22. Aristotle : Politeia 35-36, 1303a.
  23. Kamperidis, pp. 21-22.
  24. Christo Danoff : Apollonia 2). In: The Little Pauly (KlP). Volume 1, Stuttgart 1964, column 448 f.
  25. Eutropius 6, 10, 3.
  26. Strabo: Geography 7, 319; Pliny : Naturalis historia 34, 39.
  27. Kerry Wetterstrom: Recent Black Sea Hoard Discovered to be Fake. In: The Celator 3, 3 (1989) p. 12; Ed Snible: Black Sea Hoard and other Apollonia diobol fakes .
  28. ^ See: Kathleen Freeman: Greek City-states , London 1950, p. 137; Norbert Ehrhardt: Miletus and its colonies. Frankfurt, Lang, Frankfurt 1983, pp. 201-251
  29. Mentioned by Strabon: Geographie 7, 319 and Pliny: Naturalis historiae 34, 39. For the statue, see Paolo Moreno: Kalamis I. In: Künstlerlexikon der Antike Volume 1, Munich, Leipzig, Saur 2001, ISBN 3-598-11413-3 , P. 379.
  30. ^ Behrendt Pick : The ancient coins of Northern Greece. Dacias and Moesien . Volume 1, Berlin 1898, pp. 146, 243.
  31. a b c Benjamin Isaak: The Greek Settlements in Thrace until the Macedonian Conquest , Brill, Leiden 1986, p. 247.
  32. Manfred Oppermann: Thracians, Greeks and Romans on the west coast of the Black Sea. , P. 33.
  33. Karajotow / Rajtschewski / Iwanow, pp. 13-16; 24-27.
  34. a b c Benjamin Isaak: The Greek Settlements in Thrace until the Macedonian Conquest , Brill, Leiden 1986, p. 245.
  35. ^ Friedrich Bilabel : Die ionische Kolonisierung , Leipzig 1920, p. 106ff.
  36. Manfred Oppermann : The West Pontic Poleis in Pre-Roman Times and their Indigenous Environment , Langenweißbach, 2003, p. 103.
  37. ^ Publication of the results by Antoine Hermary (ed.): Apollonia du Pont (Sozopol). La nécropole de Kalfata (Ve-IIIe s. Av. J.-C.). Fouilles franco-bulgares (2002-2004). Errance, Aix-en-Provence 2010. ISBN 978-2-87772-424-1 .

Coordinates: 42 ° 25 ′ 29.3 "  N , 27 ° 41 ′ 44.9"  E