previous next

PTOION Boiotia, Greece.

A mountainous ridge E of Lake Kopais and N of Lake Iliki, in which are the Sanctuaries of Ptoan Apollo and the Hero Ptoios; it lies somewhat E of the village of Karditsa (mod. Akraiphnion). The highest point of the ridge, Mt. Pelagia (726 m) is ringed with secondary peaks—Megalo Vouno (548 m) to the NW, Tsoukourieli (698 m) and Malidarda (697 m) to the NE—and hills. It dominates Lake Kopais to the W, Lakes Iliki and Paralimni and the Teneric plain to the E and S, and the Gulf of Euboia to the N.

From Mycenaean times a number of dwellings and fortifications sprang up in the region, notably at Haghios Joannis near the great Katavothra, at Haghia Marina, on the Megalo Vouno (Hellenistic round tower and surrounding wall on the Mycenaean site), and on Mt. Pelagia (Mycenaean wall, and round tower with polygonal Hellenistic masonry).

The sanctuary of Apollo Ptoios is on the W slope of Mt. Pelagia, on three terraces leading from SE to NW down to the Fountain of Perdiko Vrysi. It is the seat of a very ancient “infallible” oracle that prophesied in the name of a mountain divinity, soon identified with Apollo. It has been excavated since 1885.

In the upper terrace, near the oracular spring, are the sacred monuments. The ancient temple, which no doubt dates from the time of the Pisistratids, may have been built of wood on a subfoundation of poros. In front of it stood the admirable archaic kouroi (National Museum and Museum of Thebes), masterpieces of Boiotian sculpture of the 6th and 5th c. On the foundations of this temple, which doubtless was destroyed in 335 B.C., another temple was built after 316. It was peripteral Doric (11.8 x 23.3 m), with 6 columns in front and 13 along each side. The very elongated sekos (4 x 12 m), which has a pronaos with two columns in antis, has no opisthodomos. In front of the temple, on an esplanade surrounded by sustaining walls, are the foundations (4 x 7 m) of a large altar or a naiskos (Athena Pronais?), some bases of statues (6th-5th c.) and of tripods (4th-2d c.), and a ramp that led to the cave of the original oracle, where the sacred spring was. On the middle terrace is an archaic building of poros, on which two long parallel porticos separated by a paved walk were built in the 3d c. Farther E are the remains of a very large house. On the lower terrace, which is bounded to the N by a long sustaining wall, is a large rectangular cistern with six compartments into which water from the upper spring was fed by an artificial channel. Lower down was a building where suppliants made their ablutions before consulting the oracle.

The Sanctuary of the Hero Ptoios stands on the NE slope of the Kastraki hill, S of the Karditsa road and W of the Sanctuary of Apollo. The upper terrace bears the foundations of an archaic temple of local limestone. The sekos (6 x 17 m) was divided in two by a line of six wooden pillars. Possibly dedicated to the mother of the Hero Ptoios, Gaia-Demeter or Gaia-Europa, it is said to date from the end of the 7th c. (terracottas) and to have been restored at the end of the 4th c. B.C. On the lower terrace, dedicated to the Hero Ptoios, are two altars, several buildings, one of them an archaic polygonal structure, and 28 tripod bases offered by the city of Akraiphia between ca. 550 and 450.

Ptoion belonged to Thebes up to 335 except in the two periods when Akraiphia was autonomous (550-480 and 456-446); after the cities were made independent it became part of the territory of Akraiphia. The Ptoia, festivals held in honor of Apollo Ptoios, included penteteric musical contests. Founded at an unknown date, the contests were reorganized by agreement with the Delphic Amphictyony in 227-226, then again in about 120 B.C. They were held up to the beginning of the 3d c. A.D.


Reports on the excavations in BCH from the year 1884; P. Guillon, Les trépieds du Ptoion, 2 vols. (1943)MPI; La Béotie antique (1948)MI; S. Lauffer in RE (1959), s.v. Ptoion, 1506-78MP; R. Hope Simpson, A Gazetteer and Atlas of Mycenaean Sites (1965), no. 415; N. Papahadjis, Pausaniou Hellados Periegesis v (1969) 129-35MPI; J. Ducat, Les Kouroi du Ptoion (1971).


hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: