Limenoscope - Ancient Hellenic Ports
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Thassos - Military 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 naval base is nowadays overbuild by the modern fishing boat shelter. The visible remains are dated from the Early Byzantine period.  


Main features
Region Aegean sea  
Use Military  
Prosperity period (centuries) 6th B.C. - 2nd B.C.  
Existence of contemporary port Yes  
Findings on site Yes  
General description
The military harbour had a quadrilateral shape and was located in front of the city's market, intercommunicating by two gates. The northeastern side (A-B Fig. 2) was 148.6m long and then extended southwestern (B-C) for another 45m, as long as the length of the ship sheds was. Equivalently, the southern side (H-G) extended northeastern (G-F) for 31m. Right after this section, the contemporary harbour's entrance begins. The western sea-exposed side existed in the extension of this part (F-D), until the Early Byzantine period. The original entrance is presumed to have been located in between section D-C. The city's walls were built upon the breakwaters. Their width was approximately 3m. They consisted of marble blocks in the exterior, while the interior was filled with smaller stones.
Researchers (French Archaeological School and Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities - Ministry of Culture), have determined the existence of three complexes of ship sheds inside the harbour's basin at the northeastern, the southeastern and western sides, hosting 7, 6 and 7 ships respectively. The buildings are dated to the middle of the 5th century B.C. and therefore are the oldest remnants from edifices of this use from the Classical period.  
Technical features
Construction period (centuries) 6th B.C.  
Port configuration Natural Harbour, Inner Harbour  
Port basin size 22500 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 Basins  
Land facilities Temples, Shipsheds, Defence Structures, Stoes  
Construction method  
Neotectonic history  
Shore line displacement  
Function and operations
The harbour was used as a naval base from the 6th century B.C. until the 2nd century B.C. After the renovations during the Early Byzantine period (4th-7th century A.C.) it was transformed to a trade port and since the 10th century A.D. the installations were used solely for trading purposes.  
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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