Abdera, Thrace

Abdera is a municipality and a former major Greek polis on the coast of Thrace.

The ancient polis is to be distinguished from the municipality, which was named in its honor. The polis lay 17 km east-northeast of the mouth of the Nestos River, almost directly opposite the island of Thasos. It was a colony placed in previously unsettled Thracian territory, not then a part of Hellas, during the age of Greek colonization. The city that developed from it became of major importance in ancient Greece. After the 4th century AD it declined, contracted to its acropolis, and was abandoned, never to be reoccupied except by archaeologists.

Meanwhile, life went on as the changing population settled in other communities in the region. One named Polystylus changed its name to Abdera. In 2011 the municipality of Abdera was synoecized from three previous municipalities comprising a number of modern settlements.. The ancient site remains in it as a ruin. It now lies in the Xanthi regional unit of Thrace, Greece. The municipality of Abdera has 19,005 inhabitants (2011). The seat of the municipality is the town Genisea.[2]


Remains of the ancient city of Abdera.
Remains of the ancient city of Abdera.
Abdera is located in Greece
Location within the region
2011 Dimos Avdiron
Coordinates: 40°56′N 24°58′E / 40.933°N 24.967°ECoordinates: 40°56′N 24°58′E / 40.933°N 24.967°E
Administrative regionEast Macedonia and Thrace
Regional unitXanthi
 • Municipality352.0 km2 (135.9 sq mi)
 • Municipal unit162.0 km2 (62.5 sq mi)
41 m (135 ft)
 • Municipality
 • Municipality density54/km2 (140/sq mi)
 • Municipal unit
 • Municipal unit density21/km2 (53/sq mi)
 • Population1,473 (2011)
Time zoneUTC+2 (EET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+3 (EEST)
Vehicle registrationAH


The name "Abdera" is a Phoenician one, shared in antiquity by a town in Spain and another in North Africa.[3] It was variously hellenized as Ábdēra (Greek: Ἄβδηρα), Ábdēron (Ἄβδηρον), and Ábdēros (Ἄβδηρος) before being Latinized as Abdera.[4] (Unusually, it was declined as a 2nd-declension masculine noun despite having a terminal a.)[4] Greek legend attributed the name to an eponymous "Abderus" who fell nearby and was memorialized by Hercules's founding of a city at the location.[5]

The present-day town is written Avdira (Άβδηρα) and pronounced [ˈavðira] in modern Greek.



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

The Phoenicians apparently began the settlement of Abdera at some point before the mid-7th century[3] and the town long maintained Phoenician standards in its coinage.

The Greek settlement was begun as a failed colony from Klazomenai, traditionally dated to 654 BC. (Evidence in 7th-century-BC Greek pottery tends to support the traditional date but the exact timing remains uncertain.)[6] Herodotus reports that the leader of the colony had been Timesios but, within his generation, the Thracians had expelled the colonists. Timesios was subsequently honored as a local protective spirit by the later Abderans from Teos.[7] Others recount various legends about this colony. Plutarch and Aelian relate that Timesios grew insufferable to his colonists because of his desire to do everything by himself; when one of their children let him know how they all really felt, he quit the settlement in disgust; modern scholars have tried to split the difference between the two accounts of early Abdera's failure by giving the latter as the reason for Timesios's having left Klazomenai.[8]

The successful foundation occurred in 544 BC, when the majority of the people of Teos (including the poet Anacreon) migrated to Abdera to escape the Persian yoke.[9][10] 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.[11]

In 513 and 512 BC, the Persians, under Darius conquered Abdera, by which time the city seems to have become a place of considerable importance, and is mentioned as one of the cities which had the expensive honour of entertaining the great king on his march into Greece.[12] In 492 BC, after the Ionian Revolt, the Persians again conquered Abdera, again under Darius I but led by his general Mardonius. On his flight after the Battle of Salamis, Xerxes stopped at Abdera and acknowledged the hospitality of its inhabitants by presenting them with a tiara and scimitar of gold.[13] Thucydides[14] mentions Abdera as the westernmost limit of the Odrysian kingdom when at its height at the beginning of the Peloponnesian war. It later became part of the Delian League and fought on the side of Athens in the Peloponnesian war.[15]

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.[6] In 408 BC, Abdera was reduced under the power of Athens by Thrasybulus, then one of the Athenian generals in that quarter.[16]

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,[10] 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.[11] Cicero ridicules the city as a byword for stupidity in his letters to Atticus, writing of a debate in the Senate, "Here was Abdera, but I wasn't silent" ("Hic, Abdera non tacente me").[17] Nevertheless, the city counted among its citizens the philosophers Democritus, Protagoras[10] and Anaxarchus, historian and philosopher Hecataeus of Abdera, and the lyric poet Anacreon. Pliny the Elder speaks of Abdera as being in his time a free city.[18]

Abdera West gate
The west gate of classical Abdera

Abdera had flourished especially in ancient times mainly for two reasons: because of the large area of their territory and their highly strategic position. The city controlled two great road passages (one of Nestos river and other through the mountains north of Xanthi). Furthermore, from their ports passed the sea road, which from Troas led to the Thracian and then the Macedonian coast.[19]

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.[11]


The municipality Abdera was formed at the 2011 local government reform by the merger of three former municipalities that became municipal units: Abdera, Selero, and Vistonida.[20]

The municipality has an area of 352.047 km2, the municipal unit 161.958 km2.[21] 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.


Landmarks of Abdera include the Archaeological Museum of Abdera, and Agios Ioannis Beach (also Paralia Avdiron) near the village Lefkippos.

Famous people



  1. ^ a b "Απογραφή Πληθυσμού - Κατοικιών 2011. ΜΟΝΙΜΟΣ Πληθυσμός" (in Greek). Hellenic Statistical Authority.
  2. ^ "Administrative changes in OTA". EETAA. 4 December 1997. Archived from the original on 2016-12-12. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  3. ^ a b Graham (1992), pp. 44–45.
  4. ^ a b  Smith, William, ed. (1854–1857). "Abdera" . Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. London: John Murray.
  5. ^ Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca, ed. Wagner, R. Leipzig: Teubner, 1894; Mythographi Graeci 1, Chapter 2, section 97, line 7ff.
  6. ^ a b Hornblower, Simon (1996). "Abdera". The Oxford Classical Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 1.
  7. ^ Graham (1992), p. 46.
  8. ^ Graham (1992), pp. 45–47.
  9. ^ Herodotus, i.168.
  10. ^ a b c "Abdera". Encyclopædia Britannica. I: A-Ak - Bayes (15th ed.). Chicago, IL: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 2010. p. 19. ISBN 978-1-59339-837-8.
  11. ^ a b c  One or more of the preceding sentences 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.
  12. ^ Herod. vii. 120.
  13. ^  Smith, William, ed. (1854–1857). "Abdera" . Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. London: John Murray.
  14. ^ ii. 97.
  15. ^ Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca historica, 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.
  16. ^ Diod. xiii. 72.
  17. ^ Cicero. Epistulae ad Atticum, 4.17.3, 7.7.4.
  18. ^ N.H. iv. 18.
  19. ^ D. C. Samsaris, Historical Geography of Western Thrace during the Roman Antiquity (in Greek), Thessaloniki 2005, p. 91-96
  20. ^ Kallikratis law Greece Ministry of Interior (in Greek)
  21. ^ "Population & housing census 2001 (incl. area and average elevation)" (PDF) (in Greek). National Statistical Service of Greece. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-09-21.


  • Grant, Michael (1986). A Guide to the Ancient World. Michael Grant Publications.

External links

540s BC

This article concerns the period 549 BC – 540 BC.

544 BC

The year 544 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. In the Roman Empire, it was known as year 210 Ab urbe condita. The denomination 544 BC for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.

Many Buddhist traditions believe it was the year when the Buddha reached parinirvana, though the actual year 0 of the Buddhist calendar corresponds to the previous year, 545 BC.

6th century BC

The 6th century BC started the first day of 600 BC and ended the last day of 501 BC.

This century represents the peak of a period in human history popularly known as Axial Age. This period saw the emergence of five major thought streams springing from five great thinkers in different parts of the world: Buddha and Mahavira in India, Zoroaster in Persia, Pythagoras in Greece and Confucius in China.

Pāṇini, in India, composed a grammar for Sanskrit, in this century or slightly later. This is the oldest still known grammar of any language.

In Western Asia, the first half of this century was dominated by the Neo-Babylonian or Chaldean empire, which had risen to power late in the previous century after successfully rebelling against Assyrian rule. The Kingdom of Judah came to an end in 586 BC when Babylonian forces under Nebuchadnezzar II captured Jerusalem, and removed most of its population to their own lands. Babylonian rule was ended in the 540s by Cyrus, who founded the Persian Empire in its place. The Persian Empire continued to expand and grew into the greatest empire the world had known at the time.

In Iron Age Europe, the Celtic expansion was in progress. China was in the Spring and Autumn period.

Mediterranean: Beginning of Greek philosophy, flourishes during the 5th century BC

The late Hallstatt culture period in Eastern and Central Europe, the late Bronze Age in Northern Europe

East Asia: the Spring and Autumn period. Confucianism, Legalism and Moism flourish. Laozi founds Taoism

West Asia: During the Persian empire, Zoroaster, a.k.a. Zarathustra, founded Zoroastrianism, a dualistic philosophy. This was also the time of the Babylonian captivity of the ancient Jews.

Ancient India: the Buddha and Mahavira found Buddhism and Jainism

The decline of the Olmec civilization in Central America


Abdera may refer to:

Abdera, Thrace, a city and municipality in Greece

Abdera, Spain, an ancient city

Apache Abdera, an implementation of the Atom Syndication Format and Atom Publishing Protocol

Abdera (beetle), a genus of false darkling beetles

Abdera acraea (Acraea abdera), a butterfly of the family Nymphalidae


Abderites or Abderite may refer to:

People associated with the ancient city of Abdera, Thrace

Adherents of the philosophical school of Abdera

Abderite, a reference to Democritus, native of Abdera; later acquired the generic meaning of "scoffer"

Abderites, archetypical fools in classical Greece, akin of the Wise Men of Gotham

The satirical book Die Abderiten, eine sehr wahrscheinliche Geschichte by Christoph Martin Wieland

Abderites (mammal), a genus of Paucituberculata from South America


In Greek mythology, Abderus or Abderos (Ancient Greek: Ἄβδηρος) was a divine hero, reputed by some to be one of Heracles' lovers (eromenoi), and reputedly a son of Hermes by some accounts, and eponym of Abdera, Thrace.

Andromeda (play)

Andromeda (Ancient Greek: Ἀνδρομέδα, Androméda) is a lost tragedy written by Euripides, based on the myth of Andromeda and first produced in 412 BC, in a trilogy that also included Euripides' Helen. Andromeda may have been the first depiction on stage of a young man falling in love with a woman. The play has been lost; however, a number of fragments are extant. In addition, a number of ancient sources refer to the play, including several references in plays by Aristophanes.

Bion of Abdera

Bion of Abdera (Greek: Βίων ὁ Ἀβδηρίτης, gen. Βίωνος) was a Greek mathematician of Abdera, Thrace, and a pupil of Democritus. He wrote both in the Ionic and Attic dialects, and was the first who said that there were some parts of the earth in which it was night for six months, while the remaining six months were one uninterrupted day.


Democritus (; Greek: Δημόκριτος, Dēmókritos, meaning "chosen of the people"; c. 460 – c. 370 BC) was an Ancient Greek pre-Socratic philosopher primarily remembered today for his formulation of an atomic theory of the universe.Democritus was born in Abdera, Thrace, around 460 BC, although there are disagreements about the exact year. His exact contributions are difficult to disentangle from those of his mentor Leucippus, as they are often mentioned together in texts. Their speculation on atoms, taken from Leucippus, bears a passing and partial resemblance to the 19th-century understanding of atomic structure that has led some to regard Democritus as more of a scientist than other Greek philosophers; however, their ideas rested on very different bases.

Largely ignored in ancient Athens, Democritus is said to have been disliked so much by Plato that the latter wished all of his books burned. He was nevertheless well known to his fellow northern-born philosopher Aristotle.

Many consider Democritus to be the "father of modern science". None of his writings have survived; only fragments are known from his vast body of work.

Democritus University of Thrace

The Democritus University of Thrace (DUTH; Greek: Δημοκρίτειο Πανεπιστήμιο Θράκης), established in July 1973, is based in Komotini, Greece and has campuses in the Thracian cities of Xanthi, Komotini, Alexandroupoli and Orestiada.

The University today comprises eight Schools — School of Humanities, Engineering School, Law School, School of Agricultural Sciences, School of Education Sciences, School of Economic and Social Sciences, School of Health Sciences and Physical Education and Sport Sciences and eighteen Departments. As of 2017, there is a student population of 18000 registered undergraduates and 3500 registered postgraduates, a research and teaching personnel of over 600 as well as approximately 300 administrative staff. As a university it is state-owned and fully self-administered. It is thus supervised and subsidized by the Greek State and the Minister for National Education and Religious Affairs. The University plays an important role in strengthening the national and cultural identity of the region of Thrace, and contributes to the high level of education in Greece.

List of ancient Greek cities

This is a small list of ancient Greek cities, including colonies outside Greece proper. Note that there were a great many Greek cities in the ancient world. In this list, a city is defined as a single population center. These were often referred to as poleis in the ancient world, although the list is not limited to "proper" poleis. Also excluded from the list are larger units, such as kingdoms or empires.

A city is defined as ancient Greek if at any time its population or the dominant stratum within it spoke Greek. Many were soon assimilated to some other language. By analogy some cities are included that never spoke Greek and were not Hellenic per se but contributed to Hellenic culture later found in the region.

List of archaeological sites by country

This is a list of notable archaeological sites sorted by country and territories.

For one sorted by continent and time period, see the list of archaeological sites by continent and age.

Nymphodorus of Abdera

Nymphodorus of Abdera (Greek: Νυμφόδωρος Αβδηρίτης; c. 450– c. 400 BC) was a citizen of Abdera, Thrace whose sister married Sitalces, a king of Thrace. The Athenians, who had previously regarded Nymphodorus as their enemy, made him their Proxenos in 431 BC, and, through his mediation, obtained the alliance of Sitalces, for which they were anxious, and conferred the freedom of their city on Sadocus, Sitalces' son. Nymphodorus also brought about a reconciliation between the Athenians and Perdiccas II, king of Macedon, and persuaded them to restore to him the town of Therma, which they had taken in 432 BC. In 430 BC, Nymphodorus aided in the seizure, at Bisanthe, of Corinthian Aristeus and the other ambassadors, who were on their way to ask aid of the Persian king against the Athenians.


Protagoras (; Greek: Πρωταγόρας; c. 490 BC – c. 420 BC) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher. He is numbered as one of the sophists by Plato. In his dialogue Protagoras, Plato credits him with inventing the role of the professional sophist.

Protagoras also is believed to have created a major controversy during ancient times through his statement that, "Man is the measure of all things", interpreted by Plato to mean that there is no absolute truth but that which individuals deem to be the truth.

Although there is reason to question the extent of the interpretation of his arguments that has followed, that concept of individual relativity was revolutionary for the time, and contrasted with other philosophical doctrines that claimed the universe was based on something objective, outside human influence or perceptions.

School of Abdera

The School of Abdera (or the Abderites) was a Pre-Socratic school of thought, founded in Abdera, Thrace around 440 to 430 BC. Its proponents, Leucippus and Democritus, were the earliest atomists. Leucippus is believed to be the founder, and was born at either Abdera or Miletus. Democritus, his student, was native to Abdera. Metrodorus of Chios and Anaxarchus of Abdera were also members, the latter being the teacher of Pyrrho who eventually came to lead the school and later founded Pyrrhonism.

Sextus Julius Caesar

Sextus Julius Caesar was the name of several Roman men of the Julii Caesares. Sextus was one of three praenomina used by the Julii Caesares, the others being Lucius and Gaius, the latter being the praenomen of the most famous Julius Caesar.


Thrace (; Greek: Θράκη, Thráki; Bulgarian: Тракия, Trakiya; Turkish: Trakya) is a geographical and historical region in Southeast Europe, now split between Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey, which is bounded by the Balkan Mountains to the north, the Aegean Sea to the south and the Black Sea to the east. It comprises southeastern Bulgaria (Northern Thrace), northeastern Greece (Western Thrace) and the European part of Turkey (East Thrace).

Tourism in Greece

Tourism in Greece has been a key element of the economic activity in the country, and is one of the country's most important sectors. Greece has been a major tourist destination and attraction in Europe since antiquity, for its rich culture and history, which is reflected in large part by its 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, among the most in Europe and the world as well as for its long coastline, many islands, and beaches.

Greece attracted over as much as 33 million visitors in 2018, 30.1 million visitors in 2017 and 26.5 million in 2015,

making Greece one of the most visited countries in Europe and the world, and contributing around 25% to the nation's Gross Domestic Product. Its capital city Athens, as well as Santorini, Mykonos, Rhodes, Corfu, Crete and Chalkidice are some of the country's major tourist destinations.

In recent years, Greece has also promoted religious tourism and pilgrimages to regions with a significant historical religious presence, such as the monasteries in Meteora and Mount Athos, in cooperation with other countries.

Regional unit of Drama
Regional unit of Evros
Regional unit of Kavala
Regional unit of Rhodope
Regional unit of Thasos
Regional unit of Xanthi
Subdivisions of the municipality of Abdera
Municipal unit of Abdera
Municipal unit of Selero
Municipal unit of Vistonida

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