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(ōlĭn`thəs), ancient city of Greece, on the peninsula of Chalcidice (now Khalkidhikí), NE of Potidaea. A league of Chalcidic cities grew up in the late 5th cent. B.C., and Olynthus, as the head of this Chalcidian League, vigorously opposed the threats of Athens and Sparta. Athens captured the city and held it for a brief time. In 379 B.C., Sparta defeated Olynthus and dissolved the league, which was, however, re-formed after the fall of Sparta. Olynthus had been allied with Philip IIPhilip II,
382–336 B.C., king of Macedon (359–336 B.C.), son of Amyntas II. While a hostage in Thebes (367–364), he gained much knowledge of Greece and its people.
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 of Macedon against Athens, but, fearing Philip's power, sought Athenian aid. Philip attacked, and Demosthenes in his Olynthiac orations eloquently urged his fellow Athenians to aid the threatened city. Philip destroyed (348 B.C.) the city despite Athenian aid. Excavations at Olynthus have revealed the layout of the city.


See M. Gude, A History of Olynthus (1933); D. M. Robinson et al., Excavations at Olynthus (13 vol., 1929–50).



an ancient Greek city on the Chalcidice Peninsula; its ruins are situated 50 km south of Thessaloniki.

Olynthus was founded between the eighth and sixth centuries B.C., during the period of Greek colonization, by natives of Chalcis, a town on the island of Euboea. The city was conquered by the Persians in 480 B.C., but it was soon liberated. Olynthus belonged to the Delian League. In 432 B.C., it became the center of the Chalcidic League, which for some time successfully resisted Athens, Macedonia, and Sparta. After an unsuccessful war that lasted from 382 to 379 B.C., the city was subjugated by Sparta. Olynthus soon won its independence and again headed the Chalcidic League. In 348 B.C., as a result of the Olynthian War (349–348 B.C.), the city was captured by the Macedonian king Philip II and was plundered, demolished, and set afire. It was never restored.

In 1928 excavations were undertaken in Olynthus by American archaeologists. Finds included the remains of a Neolithic settlement and residential quarters of the classical period, which were laid out according to a grid plan, known as the Hippodamic system, and which consisted of houses with pastas (covered passageways with columns). Multicolored mosaics were found in the Villa of Good Fortune and in the House of the Classical Actor (both belong to the fifth and fourth centuries B.C.). Numerous objects from everyday life were also discovered.


Kobylina, M. M. “Otkrytiia v Olinfe.” In Vestnik drevnei istorii, 1939, no. 3.
Excavations at Olynthus, vols. 1–14. Edited by D. Robinson. Baltimore, 1929–52.


an ancient city in N Greece: the centre of Chalcidice
References in periodicals archive ?
The Olynthus floor pavement was probably in a room that would have hosted symposia.
Robinson, Excavations at Olynthus, part XII (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1946) 341-343, pl.
Located on the Chalcidicean peninsula in Macedonia (northern Greece), Olynthus was founded by anoikismos, a 'moving inland' of local populations in 432 BC.
Cahill offers a re-study of the material from Olynthus from the perspective of archaeology at the turn of the twenty-first century.
Analysis of building techniques, similarities in architectural syntax and departures from it, support the notion that the residents of Olynthus built their own houses.
Four colour site plans summarise conclusions about the distribution of 'gendered space', 'house clusters', trade and industry at Olynthus.
John Lee (USA) used detailed archaeological recording techniques to trace the events of the Battle of Olynthus (348 BC), and in particular the use of slingshots within houses during street-fighting.
It would be interesting to explore the remains of Greek towns like Selinus, Olynthus and Piraeus for comparison.
1 Expanding our survey programme to include sites in mainland Italy, like (old) Pompeii & Capua, as well as Selinus and Olynthus, which have been suggested in the literary sources as displaying possible antecedents of Etruscan city planning.