Nicopolis means Victory City in Greek and it is what Octavian built after taking part in battles in the nearby area. It is now in ruins but they are extensive. It must have been a fabulous city in its heyday. It housed a significant portion of the population of Lefkás as well as being the major city for trade, administration and religion in the surrounding vicinity. You can find details about the building of the city in the Archeological museum In Lefkás Town.
The city dominated until the middle age when the current city of Preveza starts to become prominent. Nikopolis then becomes known as Old Preveza. There is museum on the site dedicated to the finds found in previous archeological excavations.
This is the most well known historical site in the region as its power was immense and stretched out for approximately a thousand years. The Wikipedia article on Nikopolis is quite lengthy and you get articles in travel magazines from as far afield as Crete documenting the importance of this to the locality.
I will write again about this once I have actually visited as I plan to do soon with hopefully lots of pictures. I just thought this was important enough to write about twice.
This is a very interesting place to visit if your interested in the prehistory of Lefkás. It also covers the findings of the excavations of Wilhelm Dörpfeld even better than the Fagotto book that I mentioned previously Wilhelm Dörpfeld.
In this museum it goes into detail about the ancient and goddesses (Apollo etc) that were worshipped on the island and how Lefkás became associated with Sappho and unrequited love. It explains the temple that was once there and how the inhabitants worshipped female deities.
In another room it details the lengths that they went to in order to honour their dead. It contains grave goods and headstones along with descriptions of the different styles of graves.
In the main room it contains information about the basics of Greek life like bread, wine, oil, fishing, weaving, music, houses and coinage (trade). It also includes interesting language facts and all sorts of other things that you can’t find out anywhere else.
In the last room it houses all the finds from the Dörpfeld excavations along with an examination of the time period that they relate too.
It takes the average person less than an hour but I spent an hr and a half because I read everything in sight. It also costs €2, is closed on Tuesdays and you can’t take the leaflet away.
I know I’m making this sound so dull but I was fascinated by the content. It gave me a lot of insight into why Lefkás had a lot of settlements and activity for a vast period up until the Roman period. After the building of Nikopolis which I will talk more on after I have been, the decline was evident especially when the battle of Actium happened. This was a famous sea battle between Cleopatra and the Roman Empire.
After that Lefkás disappears from history for approx 800 years. It’s only when the Venetians turn up that things start happening again but that’s beyond the scope of the museum.
He is the founder of the scientific approach to archeology for he came up with the theory of stratigraphy which is the recording of strata to enable you to use the objects found in the correct manner. He is however most famous here for his Bronze Age excavations that took place
and he was the originator of the thought that Lefkás was Homer’s Ithaka. Displayed below is the Odyssey boat but here it’s in the harbour on Meganisi.
I have even watched a BBC4 program where they went in search of the physical evidence based on passages from the Odyssey itself ending in Lefkás with a trip on the boat in the picture which I have been on and it’s very informative. Dörpfeld did many evacuations in the area including Meganisi
but anything more than hearsay cannot really be proven which is unfortunate. I think the modern conclusion to the theory is that it is Ithaka that Homer lived on, not Lefkás despite Dörpfeld’s exhaustive efforts.
He is however commemorated on the island by having the bus stops in Nidri dedicated to his memory. This is because he believed that the bay of Nidri (this picture is also on display in the Gramophone museum Lefkás town)
was Homer’s base for the setting of the start and end of the Odyssey. He also thought the bay of pigs was Sivota bay.
You can also get hold of a book Wilhelm Dorpfeld in Lefkás that tells you all about himself and the work that he did on the island. I have read it and it’s quite informative. It’s the best source of information around and the black and white pictures in this post come from that book.
The picture of his grave is at Geni which is across the water from Nidri and very close to Agia Kiriaki church. He also has the honour of a street named after him in Lefkás town.
There is an Archeological museum In Lefkás Town with a room full of his finds in Lefkás town but more were destroyed by a fire that happened not long after they were discovered in the place that they were being stored nearby the excavation site.
It is quite difficult to get hold of information about him in English but the above mentioned book and museum I linked to earlier is your best bet here. You can find out more about him in the museums in Athens.
However, the majority of it is in German. I have previously come across a PHD document written by a Greek that is in English online. However, as with all things you find when your not really looking for them; there really difficult to locate when you actually need them. Wilhelm Dörpfeld founded a school of archeology in Athens so you do occasionally come across gems like that document but just like gems they are very hard to discover again after you have initially found them.
As a consolation prize here is the Wikipedia article on him
Today is archeology day hence there will be 2 posts in quick succession. One about Ancient Greece and the Greek mainland which is this one and the other being more localised and modern which is mine but still about an ancient time period.