Profitis Elias Arnaia


The hill of Prophet Elias has beautiful views and has always been a strategic point of control of the area. It is located near Arnaia and is considered to be the Acropolis of the ancient Arnon that Thucydides mentions in the Peloponnesian War. The 2003 excavations of the 10th Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities led by archaeologist I. Papaggelos revealed the wall, while on the slopes the ruins of the Acropolis survive. Ceramics, coins and graves have been found. The hill took its name from the chapel that is there. It is mentioned in the period of the Macedonian struggle (1904-8), but perhaps later rebuilt.

The archaeological site of Profitis Ilias is identified by a section of scholars with the position of ancient Arnaia, without the theory being fully documented. Thucydides may be the only reliable source for the ancient city. The great Athenian general and historian reports that the Spartan general Brassida, headed by his army from ancient Akanthos to Amphipolis, departed from Arnaia.

Based on historical evidence and archaeological finds, we assume that the position of the ancient city of Arnaia was located to the north of the hill of Prophet Elias. According to other archaeologist scholars, around the hill was another ancient city, Avgaia, and at its peak was built its acropolis. For the city of Arnaia it is said that it was a colony of Andrians, a hypothesis that is reinforced by the fact that in Andros, after the period of the Persian Wars, a city named Arnaia is mentioned. It is also unknown the time and the cause of the destruction of the Arnaia. It may have followed the fortunes of the cities of Olynthia Federation, which the king of Macedonia, Philip II, was completely destroyed.

What has been confirmed is that on the hill of Prophet Elias the human settlement was already organized in prehistoric times (around the 15th century BC) and continued almost uninterrupted until the 14th century AD. The reasons why the area was inhabited are obvious: the site has a natural fortification, there is potable water, there are fertile soils in the adjacent plain, the forests of the area are rich, and mining areas – from Stan to Isvor – is relatively close.

The evidence points to the fact that the settlement of Prophet Elias or Ai-Lia as the hill names the inhabitants of the area, reached its great acne in the 5th and 4th centuries BC, and for the second time during the Roman era. These periods must be directly related to the expansion of mining activity in the area, which, as it was known, was from antiquity rich in silver and gold minerals. There are, moreover, clear indications that support this theory, since building materials used in the castle and in the houses of the medieval settlement derive from the cutting of stone foundries from the equipment of the ancient mines.

And while the historical sources confirm that the Roman settlement existed until the 4th century AD. with a possible period of destruction in the middle of the 6th century, it appears from the excavations that on the hill of Prophet Elias there was also a middle-Byzantine settlement on which the castle and the subsequent settlement were built. The castle covers an area of ​​2,200 square meters, irregularly shaped and constructed on the top of the hill with the stones used in earlier building phases. Some parts of it survive up to 2 meters high, according to archaeologists, it did not exceed 5 meters. It was built with mud and plaster was used only at some points on the outside.