The city of Aigion lies on the north coast of the Peloponese, ca. 40 km east of Patra. The modern city occupies exactly the same location as the ancient one, resulting in the absence of visible remains of the city's historical development. However, data recovered from rescue excavations help clarify the city's development during each time period.
According to that data the ancient city spread between Meganites river to the west and Kerynitis river to the east. Settlement ruins covering the entire Bronze Age have come to light at the northeastern part of Aigion, around the church of Eisodia and the so-called 'rock of the old bath'. The succession of phases, from the Early Helladic to the Mycenaean period, is very interesting.
The Mycenaean settlement at Aigion was an important one, having sent ships against Troy, according to Homer. The settlement was destroyed by fire twice. A megaron-like building dating to the Late Helladic IIIA-B period (15th-middle of 13th cent. B.C.) is particularly important.
The Mycenaean cemetery of Aigion lies at Psila Alonia. Of the 30 chamber tombs known so far, half have been excavated, while the rest had already been plundered. The wealthy cemetery was already in use as early as the LH II period (beggining of 16th cent. B.C.) a rare feature in the area of Achaia. At the western part of the city, at Kallithea, there was another large cemetery, possibly an extention of the Psila Alonia one.
Finds from the geometric cemetery, as well as remains of a settlement dating to ca. 600 B.C. prove the continuous habitation of the city to the archaic pariod. During the classical period Aigion's plan changes. The city now occupies the western part of modern Aigion, near the water reservoir. Remains of a house dating to that period have been found in Solomou St. The classical cemetery was organised northwest of the water reservoir.
Hellenistic Aigion is better documented. This is the time when the city was capital of the Achaean League, even after 146 B.C. and the Roman conquest. Numerous rescue excavations have brought to light ruins of well-sized and well-built houses, as well as parts of the city walls and a comprehensive plumbing and sewage system. All these account for a prosperous and influential Hellenistic city.
During the Roman period Aigio spreads along the waterfront and develops further, as proven by the presence of luxurious houses and a bath complex at the city centre. This is the period when the Egyptian cults of Mithras and Isis were introduced to the city. According to Pausanias Aigion still enjoyed considerable status during the 2nd cent. A.D., mainly because of the famous sanctuary of Zeus Omargyrios, which gave Aigio the fame of a holy city. Sadly, the complete absence of epigraphical evidence prevents us from identifying architectural remains and other finds with the monuments referred to in Pausanias' accounts.
Small finds from all excavations can be seen at Aigion Archaeological Museum.
Info: Patras University
(Monuments of Aitoloakarnania and Achaia, 2003, University of Patras)