Many people--myself included--sometimes forget how extensive the ancient Hellenic empire was. It wasn't just what is now modern Greece. It extended all the way down to, for example, Russia, Italy, Spain and the Ukraine. But, of course, there were ancient Hellenic cities in modern day Greece too that no longer exist today. One of these is Rhamnous.

Rhamnous (Ραμνούς), also Ramnous or Rhamnus or Rhamnounda, was a remote Attic deme center on a small sheltered bay along the rocky north-eastern Attic coast. It was named for the local prickly bush called ramnos and was the most important sanctuary of Nemesis in ancient Hellas.

Rhamnous was strategically important because it overlooked a narrow stretch of the Euboean channel. After Athens lost the city of Dekelia in 412 B.C., it also became important as the main harbor for import of food supplies from Euboea. The deme center at Rhamnous was fortified in the 5th or 4th century B.C. and probably received a permanent garrison because of its strategic position.

The temple of Nemesis in Rhamnous was renowned even before the fortified settlement acquired importance in the 5th century BC. Rhamnous also had a cult of Themis. A temple smaller and earlier than the temple of Nemesis, build around 480 BC may have been dedicated to both Gods. The later temple (ca. 420 BC) was dedicated to Nemesis alone, but was left unfinished. The worship of Nemesis ended in 382 BC when the Byzantine emperor Arcadius ordered that all pagan temples be destroyed.

The hamlet at Rhamnous also had a gymnasium and a small theater which may have served for civic assemblies as well as performances. Within the town's fortifications a hill top was enclosed in a second circuit of walls and may have held a permanent Athenian garrison. A route led from the town, through the necropolis and up to the Sanctuary of Nemesis and Themis situated on an artificial terrace facing the sea. The temenos was entered from the south-east and contained two small, closely adjacent temples and a number of sculptures and dedications.

For images and artist's impressions of the city, temples and sites, please go here.