The city of Kardia was founded at the mouth of the Gulf of Melas in the Thracian Chersonesos by merchant settlers from Miletos and Klazomenai in the late seventh century BC.  It prospered as a trade emporium aimed at business with the local Thracian tribes.  The city attracted the attention of Peisistratos, the tyrant of Athens, who sent out Miltiades the Elder in 560 BC with additional Athenian colonists to settle in Kardia.

Around 524 BC, Hippias, the son of Peisistratos, sent Miltiades the Younger to the Chersonesos in an effort to keep the territory under Athenian hegemony.  To this end Miltiades settled further Athenian colonists and fortified the city.  However, away from direct supervision, Miltiades tended towards autocracy and acted very much like an autonomous king in Thrace.  He became a satrap of the Achaimenid Persians and accompanied Dareios on his disastrous campaign against the Skythians.  However, always the opportunist, Miltiades supported the Ionian Revolt against the Great King and was forced to flee Kardia and Thrace for safety in Athens in 493.  At this time Kardia was largely abandoned in the face of the invading Persian army.

Once the Persians were defeated by the precarious league of mainland Greek states, Kardia gradually returned to its former economic glory.  In the fifth century the city continued to be under Athenian hegemony since it was an important center in the so-called Thraceward Region.  During the course of the Peloponnesian War Kardia became an object of conflict between Athens and the native kings of the Thracians and Macedonians, but it never fully left the Athenian sphere until 352/1 when it allied itself with Philip II of Macedon.

Kardia also remained on good terms with its Macedonian overlords in the early years of Alexander the Great and sent a number of its citizens in the army of the king for the war against Persia.  Two of Kardia's most famous sons went on this expedition, Eumenes, who became secretary to Alexander himself, and later a dynast in his own right, and Hieronymos, a friend of the former, who ultimately entered the service of Antigonos Monophthalmos and wrote an important history of the period from the death of Alexander in 323 to the death of Pyrrhos of Epeiros in 272.

When in 309 BC Lysimachos set out to found his own capital he destroyed Kardia and transferred its population to his new foundation of Lysimacheia.  However, the destruction was not complete and by the third century BC Kardia again had inhabitants.  Although Lysimacheia remained the capital of the Chersonesos throughout the Hellenistic period, by the first century AD it had fallen on hard times and Kardia reclaimed its position as the preeminent city of the region.

See a coin of Kardia. For an enlargement and a brief discussion of the coin's historical and iconographic importance please click on the coin picture.

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