The city seems to
have existed from the 7th or the 6th c. B.C. as the port
of Pherai. In 353-352 B.C. it was taken by Philip II of
Macedon, who made it an independent city, probably of
Magnesia (Diod. Sic. 16.31.6
, 35.5; Theopomp.: FGrH
115 fr. 53, 54; Dem. 4.35
). In 293 B.C. it was absorbed
into Demetrias. Pagasai was supposed to be 90 stades
(14 km) from Pherai, 20 stades (ca. 4 km) from Iolkos
), between the latter and Amphanai (Skylax 64f). Ruins on the W shore of the Gulf of Volo, ca.
4 km S of Volo, were long recognized as those of Pagasai. Walls of two periods were involved. In 1908, however, Arvanitopoullos determined that the later part of the walls belonged to Demetrias and only the older wall
circuit adjoining it to the S were the walls of Pagasai.
This wall runs from a hill called Prophitis Elias (44 m)
which is ca. one km from the sea just to the E of the
modern shore road Volo, SW across a dry wash (Ligarorema) and along the SW side of a low ridge about 2 km
long, then around its end (Damari) and along the N side.
The wall crosses the Ligarorema a little less than 2 km
NW of the Prophitis Elias hill. It runs less than 1 km
NW to the Kastro hill (201 m), and then N for a short
distance where it disappears. Both ends of the wall are
very close to the walls of Demetrias. There is no indication of how the two ends joined; it seems likely the wall
must have curved through the city area of later Demetrias. The masonry varies from roughly polygonal to rectangular blocks, depending on the native type of rock. It is poorly preserved. There are the remains of 69 towers to be seen, but apparently traces of 138 regularly
spaced along the wall. The preserved section is 5 km
long; the estimated original length about 8 km. The wall
seems to date from the first half of the 4th c. The walls
seem not to have included a harbor. Just to the E of the
city is a promontory (modern Pevkakia, formerly Tarsanas, ancient Neleia). To the S and N of this are possible harbors (the N later included in the walls of Demetrias); it is not clear which Pagasai's harbor was or
whether both were used. Only one small square foundation has been found inside the city's SE wall and no
buildings certainly earlier than Demetrias' foundation
outside. Some sculpture, including a head of the 5th c.,
now in Volo, has been found in the area, and some graves
belonging to the city. It has been suggested that the
walled area was generally disused after Demetrias' foundation, as Hellenistic graves have been found outside the walls of Demetrias but inside those of Pagasai.
F. Stählin, Das hellenische Thessalien
(1924) 65-67; Stählin & E. Meyer, Pagasai und Demetrias
; Meyer, RE
(1939) s.v. Pagasai; H.
Biesantz, Die Thessalischen Grabreliefs
. (See also Demetrias).
T. S. MAC KAY