The outline of the chronology of Pistiros

Abstract: Summary of the chronology of the site based on the evidence of stratigraphy and finds of artefacts, especially of Attic pottery, trade amphorae, coins and metal objects.

Key words: Emporion Pistiros; chronology; stratigraphy; destructions. 

The beginnings of the emporium are unclear (perhaps unfortified market place in the first half of the 5th century B.C.).

The evidence of trade amphorae sketched in Pistiros III (Bouzek et al. 133-188) and slightly refined in Pistiros IV (Tušlová, Kučová and Weissová, 205-220, cf. also in Pistiros V, ch. 14) shows that a few fragments found here preceded probably mid of the 5th century B.C., among them notably Milesian and/or Erythrai fragment mentioned in Pistiros V, 168 (Tušlová and Weissová) pl. 36: 6.

Several bronze artefacts probably belong here: fibula and bronze bead (Bouzek, Pistiros II, 342f. Fig. 26.1: 2-3, Pistiros IV pl. 36: 7; possibly some of the Štrbci type fibulae published in Pistiros IV, 223 pl. 36, ring from horse harness Pistiros V, pl. 67: 12; of Attic cups notably the fragment Pistiros II, 343 fig. 26. 1: 4 (Pistiros V pl. 32: 4; cf. Pl. 1: 1-2); maybe the earliest lamps (Pistiros II, 344 fig. 26.1: 1); but the evidence of a market-place pre-emporium is still very modest (cf. Bouzek, Pistiros II, 343-344).

Phase I. Fortification built in the third quarter of the 5th century and Vetren tomb of the end of the 5th century are constructed by the same technique and from identical granite.

The Attic RF imports start from the middle of the 5th century (cf. the Panathenaic amphorae – Bouzek and Domaradzka, Pistiros III, 239-242). The third and fourth quarter of the 5th century are well represented (cf. Archibald, Pistiros I, 77-88 and Pistiros II, 131-148), as are Black-Glazed and Early Kerch vases of late 5th – early 4th century (Bouzek, Pistiros III, 205-207, Pistiros IV, 186, cf. Pistiros V, pl. 7: 2-4, 30: 3-4) and lamps (Grmela in Pistiros III, 191-194). Of Thasian early stamped amphorae Groups A-B of 1st quarter of the 4th century (Pistiros III, 134f.) are well represented, besides several items from other centres of the late 5th century shape (o.c. 147 149): two of Mende (Pistiros III, 141, 148f.) of late 5th century; cf. also the Chian toe in Pistiros V, pl. 7: 5.

Of the Thracian coins those of Amatokos (c.410-387 B.C.) are represented in the complexes of the Phase I: SEP 1.2187 (775), A20E, s.IX, Æ, SEP I.2477 (1020), Æ, B 11, s.VII; SEP 1.996 (922), Æ; SEP 2.469 (1010), B1, s.V- Æ; SEP 2.477 (1020) B 11, S.VII, Æ; all are of the type with grape on twig on the obverse and double axe on the reverse. Even the area of the kiln and well situated NE from the city wall contained the late 5th century pottery, notably the bottom of the well yielded several nearly complete vessels and a toe of a Chiot amphora of the middle of 5th century B.C.

Phase I ends by a destruction in the seventies of the 4th century B.C., caused either by war with Kotys or by attack of Tribaloi in 376/5 B.C. Kotys unified Thrace and closed contract with the emporitai.

Phase IIa: It started with restoring fortification in less monumental form, but was secured by the contract with Kotys. The second quarter of the century, ca. 375-345 B.C., represented the time of Golden Age of the emporium.

Coins of Kotys (383-359 B.C.) appear in complexes of phases I (destructions) and IIa: SEP 1.2180 (767), A20W, s.XIV, Æ; SEP 1.2187 (775), A20E, s.IX, Æ; 1.2172 (818), A19, s.IX, SEP 2.478 (1021), Æ, B 11, s.VII; 2.325 (836), A20, pit I, Ag; SEP 2.341 (870), A19, Æ 2.345, A20 s.V, Æ; SEP 2.351 (880), A20, s.V, Ag; Coins of Teres II (350-342) with labrys and wine grape came from IIa-b layers (SEP 1.2200 (683), A20E, s.III, Æ).

Attic BG is common, Middle Kerch of varying quality but available, Thasian amphorae Garlan D, E, F and from all main centres: “Thasian circle” Peparethos, Ainos, Lesbos, Chios, Knidos, Heraclea, Samothrace and Uranopolis are attested, enlarged territory realised (extramural buildings in AV II, huts AV III). This phase ends by partial destruction of the gate with some minor damage west of it in the forties, presumably due to Philip II conquest of Thrace.

Phase IIb. It started with repair of the fortification, paving and drainage system, extramural oikoi continue. After the conquest of Thrace by Philip II the flourishing of Pistiros continued,   including the imports of Attic Middle Kerch and Black-Glazed pottery; this situation has been confirmed by lowering the Attic Black-Glazed vases chronology by S. Rotroff.

The system of fortification, of paving of streets, canals and drains, was fully restored. Besides import of Attic BG pottery and several North Greek categories, trade amphorae of Thasian Avram group VIII, Ainos, Peparethos, Knidos and those stamped by Parmeniskos were imported. The numerous coins of Philip II and Alexander III are especially characteristic for Phase IIb (ca. 345-310 B.C.), besides those of autonomous Greek cities (notably Thasos including its imitations is well represented, and also Thracian Chersonesus, Neapolis, Parion, Kardia, Apollonia Pontica and Mesambria). Coins of Maroneia are known esp. from hoards situated more to the East. The imported Greek plain and kitchen wares show a picture comparable to that of Thasos (cf. Bouzek, Pistiros IV, 191).

Oikoi in AV II, i.e. NW of the fortified city existed only ca. 370-310 B.C. The native settlement in AV III examined by Ch. Popov dates roughly from the 4th century B.C. The destruction ca. 310 apparently during the fights between the diadochs meant the end of the floruit of the emporion.

Phase III. The hastily done repairs of city walls and buildings used even fragmentary tiles for the roofs; the drainage system was only partly cleaned.

After the penultimate destruction ca. 310 B.C. (see Pistiros V, ch. 28 a) imports of fine tableware (of Black Glazed and early West Slope class) were rare. The importance of Pistiros within the Thracian empire of Lysimachus was apparently sinking. In the westernmost part of the site, whose oikoi existed only in Phase II, none Lysimachus coins were found, while in intramural parts coins of Lysimachus are the most common, followed by the post-mortem issues of Alexander. Only very few vine amphorae came to impoverished Pistiros after 310 B.C. Phase III ends with the Celtic destruction in 379 B.C.

Post-urban phase is little known, it may have lasted until early 2nd century at the latest. The modest village may survived as metalworking site the middle of 3rd century earthquake and finished as a result of large flood in early 2nd century B.C. The finds of iron slag dispersed in top layers attest that iron smelting was performed here in considerable quantity, but after the Celtic destruction no fine Attic tableware was imported and no wine in stamped or by their shape datable amphorae. Some surface finds of Macedonian coins might have belonged to the post-urban period, but none of the ascribed items was minted after the Celtic conquest. A few Roman coins were mainly surface finds.

Jan Bouzek

Fig. 1 The Eastern Gate of Pistiros. After Pistiros I. The second phase hatched.


I would like to thank Francine Blondé and Susan Rotroff for useful information on the subject of fine pottery. As concerns the shapes of amphorae I would like to thank for much advice to S. Yu. Monachov, Ch. Karadima and P. Dupont, in the field of stamps especially to Y. Garlan and A. Avram, in addition to what I learned from the late Virginia Grace. I would also like to thank cordially to Valentina Taneva for all expertise on coins, and also for overall support.

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