Mythological foundations and ancient settlements of North Epirus

October 16, 20193 MinutesIn History

Mythological foundations and ancient settlements

Ancient temple in Apollonia.

Many of the region’s settlements are associated with the Trojan Epic Cycle. Elpenor from Ithaca, in charge of Locrians and Abantes from Evia, founded the cities of Orikum and Thronium on the Bay of Aulon. Amantia was believed to have been founded by Abantes from Thronium. Neoptolemos of the Aeacid dynasty, in charge of Myrmidones, founded a settlement which in classical antiquity would become known as Bylliace (near Apollonia). Aeneas and Helenus were believed to have founded Bouthroton (modern-day Butrint). Moreover, a son of Helenus named Chaon was believed to be the ancestral leader of the Chaonians.[9]

Prehistory and Ancient period

Remains of 6th century baptisery in Butrint.

Epirus has been occupied since at least Neolithic times by seafarers along the coast and by hunters and shepherds in the interior who brought with them the Greek language.[13] These people buried their leaders in large tumuli containing shaft graves, similar to the Mycenaean tombs, indicating an ancestral link between Epirus and the Mycenaean civilization.[13]

The earliest recorded inhabitants of the region (c. 7th century BC) were the Chaonians, one of the main Greek tribes of ancient Epirus, and the region was known as Chaonia. During the 7th century BC, Chaonian rule was dominant over the region and their power stretched from the Ionian coast to the region of Korçë in the east. Important Chaonian settlements in the area included their capital Phoenice, the ports of Onchesmos and Chimaera (modern-day Saranda and Himara, respectively), and the port of Bouthroton (modern-day Butrint. Tumulus II in Kuc i Zi near modern Korçë is to date to that age (c. 650 BC) and it is claimed that it belonged to Chaonian nobles.[9] The strength of the Chaonians prevented other Greeks from establishing colonies on the Chaonian shore, however, several colonies were established in the 8th-6th centuries BC immediately to the north of the Ceraunian Mountains, the northern limit of Chaonian territory.[14] These include Aulon (modern-day Vlorë), Apollonia, Epidamnus (modern-day Durrës, Oricum, Thronium, and Amantia.

In 330 BC, the tribes of Epirus were united into a single kingdom under the Aeacid ruler Alcetas II of the Molossians, and in 232 BC the Epirotes established the “Epirotic League” (Greek: Κοινόν Ηπειρωτών), with Phoenice as one of its centers. The unified state of Epirus was a significant power in the Greek world until the Roman conquest in 167 BC.[15]

Source : Wikipedia