The Gymnasion at Amphipolis, which I date to the last quarter of the 4th century BC, plays a crucial role in our understanding of the architecture of early Hellenistic gymnasia and their function, placement and scale within Hellenistic cities. In comparison to the near contemporary gymnasia at Delphi and Eretria, it is significant for the combination of its peristyle palaistra and xystos as part of a single large complex (ca. 17000 m2). It is also unique for having rooms on all four sides of its palaistra, in common with the peristyle houses and palaces of Macedonia, and a Doric pentastylestoa on the palaistra’s western end.
Despite the early Roman date of the gymnasiarchic law from Amphipolis, it is similar enough to the Hellenistic decree from Beroia to suggest similarities in the social function of gymnasia in Macedonia. The legend of the racing torch on Alexander’s coinage minted at Amphipolis, a prominent symbol on the city’s Classical coinage, may indicate the continued centrality of athletic spectacle for Amphipolitanidentity in Hellenistic times. The gymnasion’s placement next to a sanctuary (and possibly near the theatre as well) in a formerly extra-urban area provides important detail for the sporadically attested record of urbanization within Macedonia.