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Parku Kombëtar i Amantias (v. 2010).jpg
Arched entrance in Amantia
Amantia is located in Albania
Location in Albania
Alternative nameἈβάντια, Abantia
LocationPloç, Vlorë County, Albania
RegionEpirus or Illyria
Coordinates40°22′44.6″N 19°41′55.8″E / 40.379056°N 19.698833°E / 40.379056; 19.698833
  • Iron Age
  • Classical
  • Hellenistic
  • Roman
  • Illyrian
  • Greek
  • Roman
Site notes
OwnershipGovernment of Albania

Amantia (Greek: Ἀμάντια, Ἀβάντια; Latin: Amantia) was an ancient city in the transboundary region between Epirus and southern Illyria in antiquity.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][excessive citations] The site has been identified with the village of Ploç, Vlorë County, in modern Albania.[9] The massive walls of Amantia were built before the end of the 4th century BC, and literary sources report them as an Illyrian rather than Epirote or Macedonian foundation. Later Amantia acquired the trappings of a Hellenistic town.[10] In terms of fortifications, masonry and general architecture, language and religion Amantia shares the same features as the rest of the settlement of the Greek world of that time.[4]

Amantia occupied an important defensive position above the Aoos/Vjosë river valley to the east, and on the road to the coast and the Bay of Aulon. At the archaeological site of Ploçë, a temple dedicated to Aphrodite, a theatre, and a stadium have also been found.[11] Amantia was designated as an archaeological park on 7 April 2003 by the government of Albania.[12]


Pseudo-Skylax (Periplus. 26) and Lycophron (Alexandra. 1043) recorded the toponym Ἀμάντια, Amantia. The Delphic list of theorodokoi reported the form Ἀβάντια, Abantia. The city-ethnic is recorded as Ἀμάντιεύς, Amantieus by Pseudo Skylax (27).[9] The town's demonym was Amantieus (Ancient Greek: Ἀμάντιεύς).[9]

The name Amantia and the tribal name Amantes have been connected with the Albanian term amë/ãmë ("river-bed, fountain, spring").[13] It has been suggested that the root morpheme *Amant- was perhaps a "barbarized" version of *Abant- in relation to the Abantes.[14] The name Amantia is generally accepted as Illyrian.[15]


According to Pausanias, the settlement was founded by Locrians from nearby Thronium and Abantes from Euboea.[16] Stephanus Byzantius – based on Pausanias – mentions that Amantia was founded on Illyrian terrirory by the Euboean Abantes "returning from the Trojan war".[17][18] According to another legend reported by Lycophron in his Alexandra, Elpenor – who actually died at Troy – and the Abantes from Euboea went to the island Othronos and were driven by swarms of snakes to the land of the Atintanes towards the city of Amantia.[19][20] It has been suggested that the data from Pausanias is more in accordance with the settlement of the Euboean colony in Thronion in the coastal site of Triport located in front of the Acroceraunian Mountains northwest of Aulon, not in Amantia in the site of Ploç located south of the Aoos valley in the hinterland of Aulon.[21][22] Pausanias' data have been compared with the information provided by an Apollonian commemorative monument, suggesting an "oppositional ethnicity" between the Greek colonial associations of the Bay of Aulon (i.e. the area called Abantis), and the barbarians of the hinterland.[23]

The earliest of the written sources that mention the toponym Amantia is the Periplus of Pseudo-Skylax (4th century BC). By listing it as the only site between the two poleis of Apollonia and Orikos, the account of Pseudo-Skylax suggests that Amantia was somehow important. It seems that in the Periplus the toponym Amantia denotes the territory rather than the urban center of the polis.[9] Hernandez (2017) has argued that in the Periplus Orikos is identified as a polis placed in the territory of Amantia, the latter being regarded as an Illyrian city.[3] Lycophron's Alexandra (3rd century BC) attests Amantia as a polis in the urban sense.[9]

Amantia was located on the territory of the Amantes, who were described as an Illyrian people in the Periplus of Pseudo-Scylax (mid. 4th century BCE),[24] as Epirotes by Proxenos (3rd century B.C) and by Hesychius, and as barbarians by Pliny the Elder.[17] It is situated on the slope of a high hill and had only its acropolis fortified. The massive walls of Amantia are considered of Illyrian foundation and are dated to before the end of the 4th century BC.[10] By the 4th century or later, the indigenous site became a town very much organised on a Greek model.[25][10] In terms of fortifications, masonry and general architecture, language and religion Amantia shares the same features as the rest of the settlement of the Greek world of that time.[4]

The fact that Amantia received theoroi from Delphi during the early 2nd century BC, indicates that it was listed among the Greek cities in the area north of the Acroceraunian mountains.[26] By the 3rd century BC, the town was strengthened economically and minted its own coins.

Following the Roman annexation of the region, the city became part of the Roman province of Macedonia and then Epirus Novus. Throughout the Roman period, Amantia was a civitas libera.[27] Amantia was among the thriving settlements of Epirus during the last two centuries B.C.[28]

Eulalius, one of the Eastern bishops at the Council of Sardica who refused to recognize its right to revoke the condemnation of Athanasius of Alexandria and withdrew in a body to Philippopolis, was probably bishop of this town, but some think he was bishop of Amasea.[29][30][31][32] During the early 4rth century a basilica was erected.[33] No longer a residential bishopric, Amantia is today listed by the Catholic Church as a titular see.[34]


Amantia's urban organization occurred at a period of wider evolution among the settlements of the broader area of Epirus as a result of the previous development among Molossian cities.[35] The onomastics found in the inscriptions in the city are entirely Greek. The local deities are of the typical Greek pantheon, such as Zeus, Aphrodite, Pandemos and Pan.[36] The cult of Aphrodite probably dates from the archaic era – with Amantia being in such a case among the first settlements in the region to worship the goddess[37] – or from the Hellenistic era along with the cult of Athena.[38] The temple of Aphrodite in Amantia is an example of the Hellenistic influence in present-day Albania via contact with the nearby Greek colonies.[39] The cult of Heracles has been also confirmed in the city.[40] Apollo was also among the prominent deities worshipped in Amantia as in the nearby settlements in Epirus and Illyria.[41] Amantia's prosperity during the Hellenistic era could explain the bilingualism of the settlement in that period.[42]

On the basis of language, institutions, officials, onomastics, city-planning and fortifications it has been described as a Greek city by historians N.G.L. Hammond (1989), Fanula Papazoglou (1986),[43] Šašel Kos (1986),[44] Hatzopoulos (1997),[26] Rudolf Haensch (2012),[45] and Jason Abdale (2019).[46] It has been described as a Hellenized Illyrian city-state by Eckstein (2008), and Lasagni (2019),[47] and as an Illyrian city by Olgita Ceka (2012),[48] and Jaupaj (2019).[49] Winnifrith considered the massive walls of Amantia as of Illyrian rather than Epirote or Macedonian foundation, and that the site later acquired the trappings of a Hellenistic city.[10] Mesihović (2014) has described Amantia as an Illyrian city built and governed according to the Greek model.[50] Papadopoulos (2016) described it as an indigenous site that by the 4th century BC or later developed into a city very much organised on a Greek model.[25]

In the Roman era, the use of Greek by the Romans to address the natives was seen not only as a gesture of good will, but also as an effort to promote rapprochement between those communities.[42] A 2nd century AD bilingual inscription in Greek and Latin dating back to Imperial times is found above the fountain of Ploça village. It shows that the establishment of the Roman province of Macedonia in 148 BC led to the installation of Latin-speaking populations as far as Amantia. The bilingual inscription can also testify that in the ancient site of Ploça there was a Latin enclave and that the city prospered around 200 AD; it could also be the nature of the text that required the use of both languages.[51]


The numismatic material unearthed at Amantia shows that the more numerous coins were of republican Epirote origin, followed by coins with the local legend, which were fewer in number. The territorial proximity to the koinon of the Epirotes explains the predominant role of the coins of this neighbouring state. The symbols that appear on the bronze coins of Amantia are Zeus / thunderbolt, Dione / trident, and Artemis / spearhead, which were taken from Epirus. The community of the Amantes seceded from the Epirote state only at the moment of the fall of the monarchy. At the time of Pyrrhus, his son Alexander II and his descendants, Greater Epirus was still strong and controlled both southern Illyria in the north and part of Acarnania in the south. In this context it is no wonder that the bronze coins of Amantia, starting from 230 BC, used symbols of the Epirote tradition with which the inhabitants of the city were accustomed, and only the legend on the coins was changed from ΑΠΕΙΡΩΤΑΝ to ΑΜΑΝΤΩΝ.[52][53]


The organisation of Amantia is quite similar to that of a polis rather than of a federal state.[54] The local official titles and institutions display typical names of a Greek settlement of that time, such as: prytanis (Greek: πρύτανις, "the one that presides"), grammateus (Greek: γραμματεύς, "secretary"), toxarchis, agonothetes and the boule.[17]

The town was surrounded with a walled enclosure roughly 2,100m long. A large fort was built with two gates and two defensive towers in the north.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bol, Renate; Höckmann, Ursula; Schollmeyer, Patrick (2008). Kult(ur)kontakte: Apollon in Milet/Didyma, Histria, Myus, Naukratis und auf Zypern : Akten der Table Ronde in Mainz vom 11.-12. März 2004 (in German). VML, Verlag Marie Leidorf. p. 50. ISBN 978-3-89646-441-5. Amantia in Epirus
  2. ^ Wilson, Nigel Guy (2006). Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece. Psychology Press. p. 266. ISBN 978-0-415-97334-2. Nevertheless , the 3rd and 2nd centuries were prosperous times for Epirus in which powerful cities like Antigoneia and Amantia were built . Modern Albanian historians tend to see this as Illyrian doundations
  3. ^ a b Hernandez 2017, pp. 257–258: "Drawing upon earlier written sources about sailing voyages (periploi), the Periplous of Pseudo-Skylax (28–33) traces the coast of the Mediterranean and purports to be a “circumnavigation of the inhabited world”. The text was composed in the third quarter of the 4th century B.C. The description of Epeiros moves southward along the Adriatic and Ionian Seas in the direction of mainland Greece. It appears to represent Epeiros in the years ca. 380–360 B.C. In Illyria, Epidamnos and Apollonia are listed as Greek cities (πόλεις Ἑλληνίδες). Orikos is identified as a polis located within the territory of an Illyrian city, Amantia. After Illyria, the text lists Chaonia."
  4. ^ a b c Hammond 1992, p. 37: "cities such as Lissus, Amantia... were 'Illyrian cities'. The archaeological evidence seems to be against them. For in sites fortifications, towers gates and masonry and in the construction of theatres, odeons, temples and agoras the cities of Epirus and Illyris are indistinguishable, in the titles of the city-officials and the language of their decrees these cities are entirely Greek."
  5. ^ Dmitriev, Sviatoslav (17 February 2005). City Government in Hellenistic and Roman Asia Minor. Oxford University Press. p. 147. ISBN 978-0-19-534690-9. Amantia in Epirus
  6. ^ Funke, Moustakis & Hochschulz 2004, p. 342.
  7. ^ Casson, S. Macedonia, Thrace and Illyria: their relations to Greece from the earliest times down to the time of Philip, son of Amyntas. Greenwood Press, 1971. p. 322 [1]
  8. ^ Pojani 1999, p. 251: "Nga njohjet e deritanishme kulti i Dionisit eshte shume pak i perhapur ne Epir dhe aq më pak në Apolloni apo në qytetet e Ilirisë Jugore si Byllis, Amantia e Orik."
  9. ^ a b c d e Funke, Moustakis & Hochschulz 2004, p. 342.
  10. ^ a b c d Winnifrith 2002, p. 58: "There are however, some other sites in Southern Albania which cannot be attributed to sudden Macedonian or Molossian advance, notably Amantia, Byllis and Selce, thought by some to be Pelium, where Alexander the Great fought a difficult campaign. Their massive walls were constructed before the end of the fourth century, and the literary sources talk of them as Illyrian rather than Epirote or Macedonian foundations. Later Amantia and Byllis acquired the trappings of a Hellenistic town."
  11. ^ Anamali 1972, pp. 68, 85; Funke, Moustakis & Hochschulz 2004, p. 342.
  12. ^ Tusa, Sebastiano. "Menaxhimi Fiskal dhe Struktura Drejtuese e Sistemit të Parqeve Arkeologjike në Shqipëri në vëmendje të veçantë: Parqet Arkeologjike: Apolloni dhe Antigone" (PDF) (in Albanian). United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). p. 8. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 November 2020. Retrieved 22 November 2020.
  13. ^ Çabej 1996, pp. 119 (117, 444): "1. guègue amë "lit de fleuve", "canal", "source, fontaine"; tosque e preva vijën e ujit më të ëmët, etc.; on peut grouper ici même le nom de la tribu illyrienne des Amantes comme "reverains", ainsi que le nom de la ville antique d'Amantia à Ploçë actuelle;".
  14. ^ Walker, Keith G. (2004). Archaic Eretria: A Political and Social History from the Earliest Times to 490 BC. Routledge. p. 39. ISBN 978-1-134-45097-8.
  15. ^ Baldi 1983, p. 168.
  16. ^ Pausanias. Description of Greece, 5.22.3-5.22.4.
  17. ^ a b c Hatzopoulos 1997, p. 143.
  18. ^ Amantia: Illyrion moira, plesion Orikou kai Kerkuras eks Abanton apo Troias nostesanton oikismene.
  19. ^ Malkin 1998, p. 79.
  20. ^ Castiglioni 2003, p. 876: "Di lui, probabilmente rifecendosi a una variante della leggenda diffusa nella nativa Calcide, racconta Licofrone, nella sua Alessandra, ai versi 1034-1046. Con linguaggio piuttosto oscuro, egli narra della fuga di Elefenore dall’isola di Otrono, isoletta a nord di Corcira, dove, insieme agli Abanti si era rifugiato dopo il conflitto troiano, e del suo stanziarsi presso il paese degli Atintani40, verso la città di Amantia lungo le rive del fiume Polianto, l’attuale Shushica."
  21. ^ Cabanes 2011, p. 76: "Thronion mund të ndodhet në sitin e Triportit, në veriperëndim të Vlorës, dhe jo në dy sitet e tjera arkeologjike të kësaj zone: Mavrovë e cila është Olympe antike dhe Plloça që korrespondon me Amantian antike. Ky lokalizim i Thronionit i korrespondon më mirë të dhënave të Pausanias, i cili e vendos këtë ... domethënë “përballë Maleve Akrokeraune”: po aq sa ky pohim mund të aplikohet në sitin e Triportit, po aq ai nuk i përshtatet sitit të Amantias në fshatin Plloçë ose atij të Olympes në Mavrovë."
  22. ^ Cabanes 2008, p. 171: " the descendants of the Euboean colonists who had settled in Thronium (Pausanias 5. 22. 2–4), which should be located on the archaeological site of Treport on the coast, north-west of Aulon (Vlorë), and not in Amantia situated in Ploça village, south of the Aoos valley in the Vlorë hinterland."
  23. ^ Malkin 2001, pp. 192–193
  24. ^ Shipley 2019, p. 115.
  25. ^ a b Papadopoulos 2016, p. 382: "...indigenous sites that became, by the 4th century BC or later, cities very much organised on a Greek model (e.g. Byllis, Nikaia, Amantia, Lissos)."
  26. ^ a b Hatzopoulos, M. B.; Sakellariou, M.; Loukopoulou, L. D. (1997). Epirus, Four Thousand Years of Greek History and Civilization (in Greek). Ekdotike Athenon. p. 145. ISBN 960-213-377-5. Ωστόσο, την πιο αδιαμφησβήτητη μαρτυρία για την ελληνικότητα των πόλεων αυτών πρός Β των Ακροκεραυνίων και συνάμα γιά τα όρια του Ελληνισμού στην περιοχή αυτήν δίνει το ηπειρωτικό τμήμα του μεγάλου καταλόγου των θεαροδόκων των Δελφών των αρχών του 2ου αι. π.Χ. Σ'αυτόν, εκτός από την Κασσώπη, Δωδώνη, Φοινίκη, τις Κεμάρες την Απολλωνία και το Δυρράχιον, αναφέρονται ο Ωρικός, η Αβαντία (Αμαντία) και η Βυλλίς, που αποτελεί την βορειότερη μη αποικιακή Ελληνίδα πόλη στην περιοχή αυτή.
  27. ^ Haensch 2012, p. 75.
  28. ^ Hernandez, David Ray (2010). "Excavations of the Roman Forum at Butrint (2004-2007)". The Archaeology of a Hellenistic and Roman Port in Epirus: 305. CiteSeerX Retrieved 9 December 2020. The largest cities in northern Epirus, such as Butrint, Phoenice, Oricum, and Amantia prospered during the last two centuries of the Hellenistic period, while the coastal cities of southern Epirus in the territories of Thesprotia and Cassiopeia continued to be inhabited, but with a depressed economy... The stadium, which Anamali dates to the 2nd century B.C., together with the 317 Hellenistic coins and numerous bronze figurines, demonstrate that Amantia thrived in the last two centuries B.C.
  29. ^ Michel Lequien, Oriens christianus in quatuor Patriarchatus digestus, Paris 1740, Vol. II, coll. 250-251
  30. ^ Daniele Farlati-Jacopo Coleti, Illyricum Sacrum, vol. VII, Venezia 1817, [ pp. 394-395
  31. ^ Siméon Vailhé, v. Amantia, in Dictionnaire d'Histoire et de Géographie ecclésiastiques, vol. II, Paris 1914, coll. 953-954
  32. ^ P. Feder, Studien zu Hilarius von Poitiers, Wien 1911, tomo II, pp. 71-72.
  33. ^ Chrysos, E. (1997). "Roads, Cities and Fortresses of Epirus". Epirus. Ekdotike Athenon: 154. ISBN 9789602133712.
  34. ^ Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013 ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), p. 830
  35. ^ Andreou, Joanna (1997). "Development of the Settlements". In M. V. Sakellariou (ed.). Epirus: 4000 Years of Greek History and Culture. Ekdotike Athenon. p. 100. ISBN 9789602133712. The evolution of the Molossian cities affected the broader area of Epirus in both the immediate and long-term, and accounts for the urban organization of Bouchetion, Elatria, Torone, Bouthrotos and Amantia at this same period.
  36. ^ Hatzopoulos 1997, p. 143: "The language od the inscriptions is undoubtedly Greek and, in particular, all known citizens have Greek names. The cults of Amantia are typically Greek (Zeus, Aphrodite, Pandemos, Pan and the Nymphs)."
  37. ^ Dieterle 2007, p. 101: "ursprünglich zwei verschiedene Aphrodite - Kulte existierten : ein älterer , wahrscheinlich aus archaischer Zeit , in Ambrakia , Kassope , Dodona , Apollonia und Amantia und ein jüngerer in Zakynthos , Leukas, Korkyra, Ambrakia und in Buthrotos."
  38. ^ Funke, Moustakis & Hochschulz 2004, p. 342: "Cults of Aphrodite (Ceka (1990) 218) and Athena (Tzouvara-Souli (1979) fig. 1) are attested; they are probably of Hellenistic date."
  39. ^ Hansen, Inge Lyse; Hodges, Richard; Leppard, Sarah (8 January 2013). Butrint 4: The Archaeology and Histories of an Ionian Town. Oxbow Books. p. 170. ISBN 978-1-78297-102-3.
  40. ^ Dieterle 2007, p. 129: "In Epirus ist der Herakleskult häufiger in den korinthischen Kolonien anzutreffen , so beispielsweise in Ambrakia , Epidamnos und Amantia"
  41. ^ Abdy, Richard Anthony (2007). Roman Butrint: An Assessment. Oxbow Books for the Butrint Foundation. p. 168. ISBN 978-1-84217-234-6. Apollo was particurlaly prominent within the settlements ... including ... Amantia and Oricum)
  42. ^ a b Shpuza 2014, p. 22: "Tout comme Dyrrachium, Amantia fut prospère à l’époque hellénistique, ce qui pourrait expliquer le choix du bilinguisme. Ainsi, l’emploi du grec par les Romains pour s’adresser aux indigènes n’est pas seulement un geste de bonne volonté, mais un effort pour favoriser le rapprochement entre communautés.(..) Autre facette de l’évolution linguistique, la fondation de la colonie va amener non seulement le passage du grec au latin, mais également la transformation de l’onomastique de la ville, devenue à terme presqu’entièrement latine. Ce phénomène implique a contrario l’élimination progressive du stock anthroponymique grec et illyrien."
  43. ^ Hammond, N. G. L. (1989). "The Illyrian Atintani, the Epirotic Atintanes and the Roman Protectorate". The Journal of Roman Studies. 79: 11–25. doi:10.2307/301177. ISSN 0075-4358. JSTOR 301177. The fallacy of supposing that the cities of northern Epirus were 'Illyrian cities', made clear in my book Epirus in I967, has been reasserted by F. Papazoglou I986, 439 as regards Amantia, Byllis, Nicaea and Olympe ('J'ai dit 'a bon escient "cites grecques"... There is little point in proposing an Illyrian label for cities in which the language, the institutions, the officials, the onomastics, the city-planning and the fortifications were Greek.
  44. ^ Kos, Marjeta Šašel (1986). Historical outline of the region between Aquileia, the Adriatic, and Sirmium in Cassius Dio and Herodian. Kulturna skupnost Slovenije. p. 68. The conditions were that regions and populations captured by the Romans ( from Lissus to the territory north of Phoenice and in the east up to the Dassaretes , the Greek towns of Dyrrhachium , Apollonia , Aulon , Oricum , Dimale , Byllis , Amantia and Antigonea , and the tribes of the Parthini , Bylliones and Atintanes ) were to become part of a Roman sphere of interest, controlled by the Romans.
  45. ^ Haensch 2012, p. 86: "Ebenso wenig überzeugt die von Patsch geäußerte und von Cabanes wiederaufgegriffene Vermutung, daß „sich in Alt-Pljoča eine lateinische Enklave befand“76. Wie sollte eine solche Enklave in einer griechischen Stadt von derartiger Bedeutung sein, daß sie sich in einer Monumentalinschrift verewigen konnte? "
  46. ^ Abdale, Jason R. (2019). The Great Illyrian Revolt: Rome's Forgotten War in the Balkans, AD 6–9. Casemate Publishers. ISBN 9781526718198. Amantia was a Greek settlement that just happened to have an Illyrian-sounding name.
  47. ^ Lasagni 2019, p. 73: "poleis illiriche ellenizzate di Byllis o Amantia" ... Eckstein 2008, 52-54 (cit. a pagina 53): «Whereas Apollonia was a Roman amicus, no links were established with the Hellenized Illyrian city-states of Byllis and Amantia, ...
  48. ^ Ceka 2012, p. 59: "..., vere e proprie città illiriche possono essere considerate Scodra, Lissus, Zgërdhesh, Dimale, Byllis, Klos, Amantia, Olympe e Antigoneia, alle quali si devono aggiungere anche Përsqop, Berat, Selca e Poshtme, Hija e Korbit, Gurëzeza, Kanina e Treport, dotate di cinte mura-rie che racchiudevano vaste superfci e che dominavano regioni ben delineate del punto di vista geografco."
  49. ^ Jaupaj 2019, p. 170: "À part Dyrrhachion et Apollonia, durant cette période on a des émissions des villes illyriennes come Amantia, Bylis, Olympè, Dimale, Skodra, Lissos, et en Épire de Phoinikè, Bouthrôtos et Antigonea."
  50. ^ Mesihović 2014: "S druge strane, južno od spomenutih rijeka nalazio se jedan svijet oličen između ostalog i u ilirskim gradovima izgrađenim i upravljanim po grčkom obrascu kao što su Bilis i Amantija, i oni se nisu mogli osjećati isto kao i ustanički Iliri."
  51. ^ Cabanes 2011, pp. 96–98
  52. ^ Cabanes 2011, p. 75.
  53. ^ Cabanes, P. (1997). "Development of the Settlements". In M. V. Sakellariou (ed.). Epirus: 4000 Years of Greek History and Culture. Ekdotike Athenon. p. 91. ISBN 9789602133712. Archaeological excavations have revealed a number of hoards of coins which show that there was an abandance of Epirote coins at Amantia, and also at Apollonia after 232.
  54. ^ Cabanes, P. (1997). "Political Developments". Epirus: 4000 Years of Greek Civilisation and Culture. Ekdotike Athenon: 89. ISBN 9789602133712.