Olynthos, whose pre-Hellenic name means wild fig-tree, was founded in the 7th century BC in Chalkidike by the Bottiaioi. The city, built on a hill according to the free system of town-planning, was destroyed in 479 BC by the Persians, who turned it over to the Chalkidians.
In 432 BC the king of Macedonia Perdikkas II persuaded the Chalkidian cities to desert the Athenian Confederacy and form the Chalkidian League. The inhabitants of these cities abandoned their homes for security reasons and settled at Olynthos.
In order to accommodate the Chalkidians, the city was rebuilt on a hill north of its former site. There, as seat of the Chalkidian League, it prospered. At the end of the 5th century BC it had 15,000 inhabitants, and in the first half of the following century it became the foremost city of the Chalkidian Peninsula.
Classical Olynthos was laid out according to the Hippodameian system and was surrounded by walls. The wide avenues and large well-built houses, decorated with mosaic floors and plastered walls, indicate the prosperity of the city. Olynthos tried to resist the expansionist schemes of Philip II, and as a result was entirely destroyed in 348 BC.