GOLD MINES OF MACEDONIA

The exploitation of gold, silver and lead was very important to ancient people and particularly to Ancient Greeks. There are many historical references that show the value and importance of these metals in their lives. Particularly gold and silver consisted at the time symbols of power, worship objects and many times a cause of war. The largest gold mines in antiquity were operating in areas of Macedonia and Thrace. Many ancient Greek cities and many sovereigns based their power on the exploitation of silver and gold mines. A milestone in ancient history is the fact that, from the exploitation of silver mines in Lavrio (Laurium), the Athenians constructed, among others, 200 triremes and crushed together with other Greeks the Persian fleet in the straits of Salamis.

Therefore, the gold mines of Macedonia played undoubtedly an important role in the evolution of ancients, particularly the mines of the area that expands from Axios to Nestos, including Thasos. The most important metal that was discovered in the area and was used by the inhabitants was gold. For centuries the rich mines of Pangeo contained in abundance gold and silver, in such a way that Herodotus mentioned that “the Pangeo mountain, which is large and high, has gold and silver ore within it, which are exploited by Pieres Odomantoi and Satrai “, while Strabo mentioned that “there is much gold in Krines, where the city of Philippi was founded, close to the Pangeo mountain. And in Pangeo there are gold and silver mines, as well as in both the area up to river Strymon and the area beyond the river which expands to the borders of Paeonia. The inhabitants of Paeonia can also find some pieces of gold in their land”. Euripides, in his tragedy “Rhesus” names the Pangeo as “the mountain with the blocks of gold, the soil of which hides silver”. Therefore, the search for gold consisted the most important issue for the area throughout the centuries as well as the key point of the entire history of the area. Thucydides was the owner of mines in Skapti Yli (in the valley of Philippi) and provides information based on his own experience.

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CHALKIDIKI

Chalkidiki is characterised by its important historical and cultural wealth, which is inextricably linked to the mining activity in the area, and in particular in its northeastern part, which is rich in mixed sulfide ores. Furthermore, it is the area where mining activities began earlier than in other Roman areas, in the Roman era.

The Kassandra mines expand in a wider area of a total surface of 200 square kilometers among the villages of Olympiada, Stanou, Megali Panagia and Ierissos. They include the deposits of basic sulfide and precious sulfide metals of Olympiada, Madem Lakkos, Mavres Petres, the deposits of manganese-gold of Piavitsa and Varvara and the deposits of copper-gold of Skouries and Megali Panagia.

The mines of gold, silver, lead, zinc, copper and manganese of the Northern Chalkidiki (Stratoni and Olympiada) consisted the main financing source of the kingdom of Macedon and of the campaigns of Alexander the Great.

Cornel L. Sagui, in his article “The ancient Mining Works of Cassandra”, which has been published in the Economic Geology magazine, claims that he found here, in the galleries of the mines of Lipzada (Olympiada), coins of Philip and of Alexander.

In the area remain more than 300 wells and approximately 200,000 cubic meters of ancient metallurgical debris, the common “rust” which are remains of the ore smelting. Based on historical sources and on results of direct and indirect analyses and determinations that have been performed for the aforementioned rust, the beginning of the activity dates back to the beginning of the Classical antiquity.

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