Philippi: A City of Immeasurable Significance
Philippi is a city rich in ancient history, and is possibly the most important archeological site of the great plain of eastern Macedonia.? The ancient town has seen the fate of the West played out within its borders on several occasions and majestic ruins left from the town?s extraordinary history testify to the great civilizations that have inhabited the region.? Philippi is most famous for two reasons: it was the scene of one of the most decisive battles in history, and it was the first European city to accept Christianity (Willett).
Located in the Northeast crescent of Greece, Philippi sits about nine miles north of the shore in the province of Macedonia, and lies within the district of Kavᬡ at the foothills of Mt. Pangaion.? Philippi is also located on the Via Egnatia, a Roman road and important trade route that connects ports on the Adriatic Sea.? The road heads east through the Macedonian region directly through Philippi, and continues into Byzantium, Turkey. Historically, Philippi occupied a strategic position between the rivers Strymon and Nestos.? It commanded a view of the plain of Drama, along with the river Gangites, and overlooked the mountain pass between Pangaeus and Haemus (The Unbound Bible).
Beginnings and the significance of Philippi
Philippi is not a working city, and as a result, the significance of what happened here is more important than what can actually be seen.? Therefore, a clear grasp of past events is essential toward appreciating the importance of the land.
In 360 B.C., a group of colonists from Thasos led by Callistratus, an exiled Athenian, founded the first city called Krenides, which means, ?little springs.? ?The small town began humbly, and hardly had time to accrue a historical significance before it was endangered by the neighboring Tracians.? Out of fear, the small city turned to King Philip II for help.? Philip II of Macedonia, father of Alexander the Great, had already foreseen the economic and strategic importance of the small town, so he took control of the four-year-old city in 356 B.C., fortified it, and renamed it after himself.? Thus, the city became Philippi.? Legend has it that Philip gave his name to each of the springs, hence the name Philippi, which is plural (Odysseus).
The city found favor with Philip II because it dominated the Via Egnatia route between the interior of Trace and the coast.? Furthermore, its importance was augmented by the exploitation of the gold mines of Mt. Pangaion.? This proved to be a providential source of revenue through which Philip II, and later Alexander, could finance his battles to gain control of Greece.? As a benefit to the citizens, Philip?s new rule of Philippi protected the Thassian gold miners from Tracian attacks.? The gold mines, along with a large-scale drainage system, made it possible to open up the plain to agriculture.? Consequently, the town expanded and began to gain autonomy...