Amphipolis lies on the
Strymon River, which Alexander
crossed in 334 BC when he set out from Pella towards
Asia. When history books mention a river
crossing, I automatically picture the army wading through the water unless a
bridge of some kind is specifically mentioned. This is not the case at Amphipolis
as far as I know so it comes as a surprise to learn that the remains of an
ancient bridge were found there in 1977.
Successive repairs and maintenance works of the bridge have been documented during the Roman and Byzantine occupation and the last of such a report dates from the Ottoman period around
A Byzantine extension of the bridge and the construction
of a dam survived amazingly till 1929-1932 when works were carried out to shift
the bed of the . This means that it
existed in one form or another for nearly two thousand five hundred years! Strymon
[Picture from Ancient History]
The remains we can witness today are mainly petrified wooden piles that supported the bridge on the south bank but there are also some stone masonry and marble blocks around the south abutment of the bridge that led to one of the city gates. The piles are between 1.5 and
meter high with a diameter varying between 70 and 290 mm. A timber deck
composed of horizontal beams - the
longest one measures 4.5
meters - covered the bridge that was 13-meters wide and 275 meters long.
History mentions this bridge for the first time during the Peloponnesian War in 422 BC when Amphipolis played a key role in controlling the access to the gold and silver mines in the hinterland, as well as to the oak forests used in shipbuilding. On the other hand, carbon dating has revealed that the first bridge was constructed at some time between 600 and 550 BC.
More details about the bridge and its historical background can be found in this article by Spyros Kamilalis that was published in Ancient History.