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date: 29 September 2023



  • Paul Cartledge,
  • Stephen Hodkinson
  •  and Antony Spawforth


Sparta (‘the sown land’?) lies c. 56 km. (35 miles) south of *Tegea, and 48 km. (30 mi.) north of Gytheum, at the heart of the fertile alluvial valley of the Eurotas. See laconia. Very few prehistoric remains are known from the site of historical Sparta, but there was a substantial neolithic community not far south, and a major late bronze age settlement about 3 km. north-east (the *'Menelaion' site at Therapne). The circumstances of the settlement of Sparta town are enveloped in the fog of myth and legend: the ‘Return of the Heraclids’, as the ancients put it, and the ‘Dorian Invasion’, in modern parlance (see dorians; heraclidae). Archaeology as currently understood suggests a cultural break with the bronze age and a humble new beginning somewhere in the darkness of the 10th cent.; the initial relationship between Sparta and *Amyclae, which by 700 had been incorporated on equal terms with the other four villages comprising Sparta town, is no less obscure.


  • Ancient Geography
  • Greek History and Historiography

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