Limenoscope - Ancient Hellenic Ports
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Thassos - Commercial Harbour
Settlers from Paros inhabited Thasos around 680 B.C. The island's strategic position upon the trade routes from Aegean to Thrace and Black Sea, the metal-rich subsoil (gold, silver), the vineyards and the forests enhanced the city's development to a significant naval and trade power. Thasos was an important member of the Athenian alliance and functioned as an advanced naval base of Athens. Thasian coins have been found in Egypt and Syria, while the characteristic Thasian amphora has been located in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. The city was at its peak until the Roman period, when a decline began, but it flourished again during the Early Byzantine period.
The city of Thasos is located in the Northern part of the island, around the bay of Panagia, which was formed to two ports: an enclosed military harbour and a trade pier/breakwater.
The merchant harbour was built northeast of the naval base and was protected by a breakwater to the north.  


Main features
Region Aegean sea  
Use Commercial  
Prosperity period (centuries) 6th B.C. - 2nd B.C.  
Existence of contemporary port No  
Findings on site Yes  
General description
The harbour intercommunicated with the ancient city agora by two gates. It was build outside the perimeter of the city walls as an extension of the naval base to the northeast. The breakwater to the North was the only construction of the merchant harbour. The construction was extended to East-West direction, being 115m. in length and 18-30m. in width. The breakwater head is of circular shape (with a diameter of 20m.), which can be attributed to the possible existence of a tower. The breakwater was fortified with walls in the exposed side and a quay was existed in the interior. The usage of the harbour ended during the 7th century B.C. Today the breakwater's remains can be seen in an average depth of -1 to -2m.  
Technical features
Construction period (centuries) 6th B.C.  
Port configuration Artificial Harbour, Outer Harbour  
Port basin size m2 
Main wind direction NW
Port land area km2 
Port entrance  
Change of sea surface elevation 1 m 
Outer port structures Moles
Inner port structures Quays  
Land facilities Shipsheds, Temples, Defence Structures  
Construction method  
Neotectonic history  
Shore line displacement  
Function and operations
Every kind of the island's trade goods were transported from the harbour. The famous wine of Thasos was exported in the recognizable Thasian amphorae with the pointed base. Specific laws, some of which have been found on inscriptions in the nearby city's agora, regulated the wine's trade. From the same inscriptions it is known that specific state officers were assigned to the supervision of the wine's transportation. Consequently respective regulations can be assumed for the commercial transactions in general.  
References in ancient literature
  • Herodotous, Histories VI.46
  • Thucydites, History of the Peloponnesian War Ι.101.1, Ι.200.2, 3.4.104-105, 8.64.2-4
  • Xenophon, Hellenica 12
  • Pliny, Naturalis Historia, VII.209
  • Ploutarch, Lives (Kimon) 14.2
  • Pseudoskylax, Periplous 67  
  • Related researches Archeological  
    Findings in museums Yes  
    Other references
  • Archontidou A., Empereur J. -Y., 1987, "Thasos, 3 : Le port", B.C.H. 111, 622-626
  • Archontidou-Argyri A., Simossi A., Empereur J. -Y., 1989, "The underwater excavation at the ancient port of Thasos, Greece", I.J.N.A. 18.1, 51-59.
  • Blackman, D.J., 1982, "Ancient Harbours in the Mediterranean", I.J.N.A., 11.2, 79-104
  • Blackman, D.J., 1982, "Ancient Harbours in the Mediterranean", I.J.N.A., 11.3, 185-211
  • Empereur J-Y., Verlinden C., 1986, "Thasos: Le port", B.C.H. 110, 984-989
  • Empereur J-Y., Verlinden C., 1987, "Thasos: Le port", B.C.H. 111, 755-759
  • Empereur J-Y., Simossi A., 1988, "Thasos, 2: Le port", B.C.H. 112, 736-742
  • Empereur J-Y., Simossi A., 1989, "Thasos: Le port", B.C.H.113, 2, 734-740
  • Empereur J-Y., Simossi A., 1990, "Thasos: Le port", B.C.H. 114, 2, 881-887
  • Empereur J-Y., Simossi A., 1991, "Thasos: Le port", B.C.H. 115, 2, 712-720
  • Empereur J-Y., Simossi A., 1992, "Thasos: Le port", B.C.H. 116, 2, 721-726
  • Empereur J-Y., Simossi A., 1993, "Thasos: Le port", B.C.H. 117, 2, 647-652
  • Grandjean Y., Salviat F., 2000, Guide de Thasos, EFA, 52-57
  • Kozelj T., Wurch-Kozelj M., 2003, "Ancient harbours in Greece and Cyprus", 3rd Panhellenic Symposium of Harbour Works, Athens Nov. 24th-27th 2003, NTUA, Athens (in Greek)
  • Kozelj T., 1988, "Les carriers des epoques grecque, romaine et byzantine: techniques et organization" in Clayton F., Ancient marble quarrying and trade, BAR
  • Kozelj T., Wurch-Kozelj M., 2000, "The reconstruction of the drawbridge of the Gattilusi's fortress on Thassos", in Lazzarini L., Interdisciplinary Studies on Ancient Stone, ASMOSIA V (Association for the Study of Marble and Other Stones in Antiquity), Venice, 41-45
  • Lianos N.A., 1993, "The area of the ancient closed of Thasos (A preliminary report)", 1993, Tropis V, 133-160
  • Micha P., 2002, "The ports of Thasos" in [], 15.2.06
  • Perrot G., 1864, Memoire sur l'le de Thasos, Paris
  • Saulnier J-M., 1992, Thasos a l' epoque paleochretienne et byzantine etude de numismatique et d' histoire , Paris, 302-308
  • Simossi A., 1993, Le port de guerre de Thasos, D.E.A., University Aix-En Provence 1, Juin 1993
  • Simossi A., 1995, "Les Neoria du port de guerre de Thasos: une decouverte recente", Melanges Claude Vatin, 1995, 163-178
  • Archontidou Α., Empereur J.-Y., 1987, "Greek-French investigation at the ancient harbour of Thasos. Report of two excavation periods", <ι>Reconstraction - Conservation - Protection of Monuments, 2, Ministry of Culture, Athens, 3-77 (in Greek)
  • Karadima Ch., 2003, "The wines of Thasos", [], 3-3-2003
  • Lianos N., Simosi A., Empereur J.-Y., 1985, "Underwater investigations at the harbour of Thasos", Α.Α.Α. 18, 119-136 (in Greek)
  • Simosi A., Empereur J.-Y., 1985, "Underwater investigations at the harbour of Thasos", Α.Α.Α. 18, 119-136 (in Greek)
  • Simosi Α., Empereur J.-Y., 1987, A.A.A. 20, 75-92 (in Greek)
  • Simosi Α., Empereur J.-Y., 1990, "Thasos. Ancient harbour", Α.D. 45, 529-532 (in Greek)
  • Simosi Α., Empereur J.-Y., 1991, "Thasos. Underwater excavation", Α.D. 46, 525-526 (in Greek)
  • Simosi Α., Empereur J.-Y., 1992, "Thasos. Commercial harbour", Α.D. 47, 694-696 (in Greek)
  • Simosi Α., 1994-1995, "The ancient military harbour of Thasos", Α.D. Α' 49-50, 133-160 (in Greek)  
  • Protection regime  
    Author Theotokis Theodoulou  
    Editor Theotokis Theodoulou  
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