|Summary:||One of the largest cities in the Peloponnese.|
One of the largest cities in the Peloponnese, Megalopolis is located on a large plain and is bisected by the Helisson river. The city was protected by ca. 9 km of city walls and occupied by the inhabitants of ca. 40 abandoned Arcadian villages. On the N bank the civic center of the city included the agora, stoas, the Philippian Stoa, Sanctuary of Zeus Soter, and other civic buildings. The S bank section of the city was the center of the Arcadian League and the location of the Thersileion (the league's council house). The theater in the S sector was the largest in Greece with ca. 20,000 seats.
Megalopolis was founded ca. 370 B.C. by Epaminondas of Thebes as the capital of the Arcadian League and as a buffer city to help contain the Spartans. During the 4th century B.C. Megalopolis politically favored Macedonia and suffered a number of Spartan attacks. In the 3rd century the city joined the Achaean League. In 223 B.C. the Spartans (under Cleomenes III) succeeded in taking and destroying Megalopolis. The city was rebuilt and enjoyed some prosperity, but never regained political power, and by the 2nd century A.D. it was a minor town much in ruin. It was finally abandoned at the end of the Roman period.
Excavations in 1890-93 directed by W. Loring and others for the British School. M. Kavallieratos excavated in 1901 and in 1962-63 cleaning and minor excavations conducted by E. Stikas and C. Christou.