Friday, November 2, 2012

Sparta -- Ancient Map and Clans

On June 14, 2009 I published the following map of ancient Sparta showing the location of the villages/clans.

Unfortunately, the map has the tribes incorrectly located. This post ranks fourth in popularity and the thought of readers being exposed to incorrect information is unacceptable to me, so we must rebuild the map.

Searching the web (or looking in the literature) for maps of Sparta is difficult. The few examples one can find are eighteenth century posters, most notably the one by the Frenchman Bocage which first appeared in 1783. It appears that I used this to mark up my own map. I have recently read that Bocage’s map contained misinterpretations from ancient writings. Of course, he did not have the benefit of modern archeology which would have been helpful.

Now examine my rework of the map.

And I quote Toynbee’s description of the villages and clans:

“Thus, about 700 B.C., there were at Sparta, over and above the three privileged clan groups, five locally organized communities, embracing both the clansmen and a large unprivileged population besides. These five were: Pitane, the seat of the Agiadai-clan and their clients (containing the burial place of the Agiad phratria: N.W. of the agora: Limnai, the seat of the Eurypontidai clan and their clients (tombs of the Eurypontid phratria, on the street which seems to have branched N.E. from the agora) on the low lands bordering the Eurotas-bed: Kynosoura, the long ridge S. of Limnai, occupied by the community from Lakedaimon: and Mesoa, between these three, and S. of the agora, occupied by the Minyai from Therai and their clients. Lastly, Amyklai, two miles S. of the Tiasa (Magoula) river, left in possession of its old inhabitants.”

Of course, Leonidas was of the Agiad line. Menelaos (husband of Helen and brother of Agamemnon) was Kynosouran. Forklore has it that Menelaos migrated from Therapne (old Lakedaimon) to the west bank of the Eurotos and later the Spartan people became Lakedaimons. There is a shrine to Menelaos at Therapne.

And there's that fifth village that was part of Sparta -- Amyklai. The map below shows it separation from the others.


Jenna Anderson said...

I'm wondering whether even the ancient time, do they value the gold that much? or it's just on the latter year before they showed their interest towards the precious gems.

Ellis Ford said...

What tickles my curiosity is the form of their transportation during that time. The distance they are traveling isn't a joke as I can see it.

Mike Anderson said...


I have found this topic interesting as well. In the case of Rome, you can calculate the transportation time to market based on oxen pulling a wagon at 2 miles per hour. The farmers had to live near town in order to get the goods to market before they spoiled.

Oscar Barnes said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Please sir, could you tell me what makes you think that the Spartan agora was located where those structures next to the theater are laying?

Mike Anderson said...


I located the Spartan agora based on the description of Toynbee which is quoted in the post. The quote was taken from his book Some Problems of Greek History. The arrow points to an approximate location.