Xerxes Canal in Nea Roda, Halkidiki

The Xerxes Canal was a great work of antiquity constructed on the peninsula of Athos, in Halkidiki, by the Persian King Xerxes during the Persian Wars.

The canal was built in 480 BC during another Persian campaign. Xerxes wanted to avoid the circumnavigation of Athos, as the last time he attempted it, Mardonius' fleet had been sunk. The description of the canal was conveyed to us by Herodotus and Thucydides, but later historians disputed it, writing that the Persian king built a Diolkos and not a canal. However, current research shows that it was a canal.

According to Herodotus' description, Xerxes assigned the work to Artachai and Bouvaros. Artahaeis, however, shortly before the canal was finished, fell seriously ill and died, which was considered a great misfortune and a bad omen by Xerxes. Artahaeis was buried in Akanthos with great honours.

The canal is currently buried and has been located between the villages of Nea Roda and Tripiti. In 2008 surveys were carried out by British and Greek engineers that showed its exact location and dimensions. The canal is two kilometres long and 30 metres wide and its maximum depth is estimated at 15 metres. It is visible from a great height, as the site has been subsided. Archaeological research has shown that it was abandoned immediately after its use by Xerxes and was filled in over the years.