Abdera, Thrace

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For other cities with the same name, see Abdera (disambiguation).
Remains of the ancient city of Abdera.
Remains of the ancient city of Abdera.
Abdera is located in Greece
Coordinates 40°57′N 24°59′E / 40.950°N 24.983°E / 40.950; 24.983Coordinates: 40°57′N 24°59′E / 40.950°N 24.983°E / 40.950; 24.983
Country: Greece
Administrative region: East Macedonia and Thrace
Regional unit: Xanthi
Population statistics (as of 2011)[1]
 - Population: 19,005
 - Area: 314.8 km2 (122 sq mi)
 - Density: 60 /km2 (156 /sq mi)
Municipal unit
 - Population: 3,341
 - Population: 1,473
Time zone: EET/EEST (UTC+2/3)
Auto: AH

Abdera (Ancient Greek: Ἄβδηρα) was a major Greek polis on the coast of Thrace. It lay 17 km east-northeast of the mouth of the Nestos River, almost directly opposite the island of Thasos. The site now lies in the Xanthi regional unit of Thrace, Greece. The municipality of Abdera (Modern Greek: Άβδηρα, [ˈavðira]) has 19,005 inhabitants (2011).


Location of Abdera and its two successive metropolises, Clazomenae and Teos.
The chief coin type, with griffon.

Its mythical foundation was attributed to Heracles who founded the city on behalf of his fallen friend Abderus .[2]

The historical founding is traced back to a colony from Klazomenai. This historical founding was traditionally dated to 654 BC, which is unverified, although evidence in 7th century BC Greek pottery tends to support it.[3] But its prosperity dates from 544 BC, when the majority of the people of Teos (including the poet Anacreon) migrated to Abdera to escape the Persian yoke (Herodotus i.168).[4] The chief coin type, a griffon, is identical with that of Teos; the rich silver coinage is noted for the beauty and variety of its reverse types.

In 513 BC and 512 BC, the Persians conquered Abdera. In 492 BC, the Persians again conquered Abdera, this time under Darius I. It later became part of the Delian League and fought on the side of Athens in the Peloponnesian war .[5]

Abdera was a wealthy city, the third richest in the League, due to its status as a prime port for trade with the interior of Thrace and the Odrysian kingdom.[3]

A valuable prize, the city was repeatedly sacked: by the Triballi in 376 BC, Philip II of Macedon in 350 BC; later by Lysimachos of Thrace,[4] the Seleucids, the Ptolemies, and again by the Macedonians. In 170 BC the Roman armies and those of Eumenes II of Pergamon besieged and sacked it.

The town seems to have declined in importance after the middle of the 4th century BC. Cicero ridicules the city in his letters to Atticus, "Hic, Abdera non tacente me" [6] but the city counted among its citizens the philosophers Democritus, Protagoras[4] and Anaxarchus, historian and philosopher Hecataeus of Abdera, and the lyric poet Anacreon.

The ruins of the town may still be seen on Cape Balastra (40°56'1.02"N 24°58'21.81"E); they cover seven small hills, and extend from an eastern to a western harbor; on the southwestern hills are the remains of the medieval settlement of Polystylon.


The municipality Abdera was formed at the 2011 local government reform by the merger of the following 3 former municipalities, that became municipal units:[7]

The municipal unit Abdera is subdivided into the communities Abdera, Mandra, Myrodato and Nea Kessani. The community Abdera consists of the settlements Abdera, Giona, Lefkippos, Pezoula and Skala.

Avdhira occupies the area currently.[4]



  1. ^ Detailed census results 2011 (Greek)
  2. ^ Pseudo-Apollodorus Myth., Bibliotheca (sub nomine Apollodori) (0548: 001) “Apollodori bibliotheca. Pediasimi libellus de duodecim Herculis laboribus”, Ed. Wagner, R. Leipzig: Teubner, 1894; Mythographi Graeci 1. Chapter 2, section 97, line 7 τῶν δὲ Βιστόνων σὺν ὅπλοις ἐπιβοηθούντων τὰς μὲν ἵππους παρέδωκεν Ἀβδήρῳ φυλάσσειν· οὗτος δὲ ἦν Ἑρμοῦ παῖς, Λοκρὸς ἐξ Ὀποῦντος, Ἡρακλέους ἐρώμενος, ὃν αἱ ἵπποι διέ- φθειραν ἐπισπασάμεναι· πρὸς δὲ τοὺς Βίστονας διαγω- νισάμενος καὶ Διομήδην ἀποκτείνας τοὺς λοιποὺς ἠνάγκασε φεύγειν, καὶ κτίσας πόλιν Ἄβδηρα παρὰ τὸν τάφον τοῦ διαφθαρέντος Ἀβδήρου, τὰς ἵππους κομίσας Εὐρυσθεῖ ἔδωκε.
  3. ^ a b Hornblower, Simon (1996). "Abdera". The Oxford Classical Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 1. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Abdera". Encyclopædia Britannica. I: A-Ak - Bayes (15th ed.). Chicago, IL: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 2010. p. 19. ISBN 978-1-59339-837-8. 
  5. ^ Diodorus Siculus Hist., Bibliotheca historica (lib. 1–20) (0060: 001) “Diodori bibliotheca historica, 5 vols., 3rd edn.”, Ed. Vogel, F., Fischer, K.T. (post I. Bekker & L. Dindorf) Leipzig: Teubner, 1:1888; 2:1890; 3:1893; 4–5:1906, Repr. 1964. Book 13, chapter 72, section 2, line 2 πλοῦν εἰς Σάμον ἐποιήσατο. τούτων δὲ πραττο- μένων Θρασύβουλος ὁ τῶν Ἀθηναίων στρατηγὸς μετὰ νεῶν πεντεκαίδεκα πλεύσας ἐπὶ Θάσον ἐνίκησε μάχῃ τοὺς ἐκ τῆς πόλεως καὶ περὶ διακοσίους αὐτῶν ἀνεῖλεν· ἐγκλείσας δ' αὐτοὺς εἰς πολιορκίαν ἠνάγκασε τοὺς φυγάδας τοὺς τὰ τῶν Ἀθηναίων φρονοῦντας καταδέχεσθαι, καὶ φρουρὰν λαβόντας συμμάχους Ἀθηναίων εἶναι.μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα πλεύσας εἰς Ἄβδηρα προσηγάγετο πόλιν ἐν ταῖς δυνατω- τάταις οὖσαν τότε τῶν ἐπὶ Θρᾴκης.
  6. ^ Cicero. Epistulae ad Atticum, 4.17.3, 7.7.4.
  7. ^ Kallikratis law Greece Ministry of Interior (Greek)


  • Grant, Michael. A Guide to the Ancient World. Michael Grant Publications, 1986.
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Abdera". Encyclopædia Britannica 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 33.  Endnotes:
    • Mittheil. d. deutsch. Inst. Athens, xii. (1887), p. 161 (Regel);
    • Mém. de l'Acad. des Inscriptions, xxxix. 211;
    • K. F. Hermann, Ges. Abh. 90-111, 370 ff.
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Abdera". Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company. 

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