Ancient Neapolis (Greek “New City”), situated on a small peninsula between two bays, was founded at least as early as the 6th century BC, became part of the Macedonian kingdom in the 4th century BC when Philip II, father of Alexander the Great conquered it, and then was merged into the Roman Republic in 168 BC. The earliest coins from the town, struck near the end of the 6th century BC, depict the Gorgon head. The infamous Brutus and Cassius, assassins of Julius Caesar, used Neapolis as their headquarters in 42 BC before being defeated nearby at the battle of Philippi by Mark Antony and the Emperor to be, Octavian/Augustus (Dio Cassius, Roman History). In the Roman period, Neapolis was one of the best and safest ports in the area, and functioned as the harbor town for Philippi about 10 miles away, similar to the relationship between Attalia and Perga. Today, the aqueduct and part of the Via Egnatia originally built in the Roman period are still visible, and although covered by later Byzantine and Medieval structures, the acropolis, where a temple to Artemis/Diana once stood, towers over the area near the ancient harbor to the west (Davies, “The Macedonian Scene of Paul’s Journeys”; Frazer, “Macedonia and Samothrace”). The harbor town of Neapolis in Macedonia was situated along the great Via Egnatia, a major Roman highway of the Empire period, first constructed by Roman senator Gnaeus Egnatius in the time of the Republic around 140 BC (Strabo, Geographica; various milestones). In the 1st century AD, this highway extended about 700 miles east/west from Byzantium (Constantinople/Istanbul) to the town of Dyrrhachium (Durrës, Albania) from which Italy could be quickly reached by ship.
In about 49 AD, after passing through Asia Minor, Paul and his colleagues departed from the seaside city of Troas, sailed towards the island of Samothrace, and landed in the harbor of Neapolis (“New City”; modern Kavala, Greece) in the province of Macedonia after a quick 2 days of about 150 miles of travel on the Mediterranean (Acts 16:6-11; compare Acts 20:6 and 5 days for the reverse travel). The island of Samothrace was probably used as a navigational marker due to its peak, Mount Phengari at 5,459 feet, clearly visible from a great distance. At Troas, Luke seems to have joined Paul, and therefore Macedonia was the first place that Luke partnered with Paul to spread the Gospel (Acts 16:9-11). The stop in Neapolis, however, was short, and the destination was nearby Philippi (modern Filippoi, Greece), a Roman colony and major city of the area (Acts 16:11-12). Neapolis has had a long history of Christianity, beginning with the Apostle Paul and extending into the present, as evidenced by Christian inscriptions from the late Roman period and a large church from the 5th century AD or earlier (c.f. Greek inscription mentioning “Jesus Christ, born of the virgin Mary, crucified for us”).