Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Via Egnatia - Walking with Paul from Neapolis to Apollonia

I've put together a video that will allow you to walk with Paul and Silas from Neapolis to Apollonia. HERE is the video in which I cover the following.

Acts 16.9-10 recounts Paul's vision while he was in Troas of the "man of Macedonia" asking him to come over to Macedonia. In Acts 16.11-12 it says:
We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. 
After the incident with the slave girl in Philippi that caused such a scene, Paul and Silas leave Philippi, and Acts 17.1 states:
After Paul and Silas had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews.

What Paul and Silas did, actually, is follow the Via Egnatia (VE) from Neapolis (modern Kavala) to Philippi to Amphipolis to Apollonia. It was the most important west-east roadway in Greece from the 2nd century BCE to the 5th century CE, and even into modern times it has been used as a key travel route over. The VE figures prominently in much of history, especially in terms of troop movements such as occurred with the famous Battle of Philippi in 42 BCE where the forces of Octavius and Antony defeated those of Brutus and Cassius.

Parts of the VE are still visible today, and visitors can walk on the very same path trod by Paul and Silas. In July 2017 I had the opportunity to do some exploring looking around for the VE in the area between Neapolis and Apollonia. I've put together a video that gives some background and identifies aspects of this part of the VE. I don't know how much of the information I share is new or merely speculative, but there are a few things that might encourage you to take a look.
  • If you are planning to visit the area, I give directions on accessing parts of the roadway that still exist between Neapolis and Philippi and at Apollonia.
  • There is an interesting 1st century CE monolith erected by the ancient VE that visitors usually miss since the new highway between Neapolis and Philippi runs south of the ancient VE. (The new highway was marshy land in ancient times.)
  • I was able to 'see' on Google Earth, using the historical imagery feature, remnants of where the VE ran west of Philippi, and it's even possible to 'see' remnants of the fortifications Cassius and Brutus built.
  • I note a couple of structures that were likely gateways or fountains of some kind on the VE west of Philippi.
  • I photographed a site at Apollonia where tradition claims that Paul stopped and preached on his way to Thessaloniki. This site is rarely visited since the new highway runs north of Lake Volvi while the VE ran on the south side.
Thanks are due to the Via Egnatia Foundation which provided some tracking information. If you want to walk the VE yourself, be sure to check them out.

If there are any corrections to my presentation, please let me know!