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SELLASIA Lakonia, Greece.

Settlement a few km to the N of Sparta overlooking the valley of the Oinous (modern Kelephina), a tributary of the Eurotas. Situated at the issue of the road from Arkadia by way of Tegea and Kynouria by way of Karyai, it occupies a strategic position. It was burned and pillaged in 370 B.C. by the Thebans of Epaminondas (Xen. Hell. 6.5.27). Retaken in 365 by the Spartans, who were aided by the Syracusans (ibid., 7.4.12), it was destroyed and its population reduced to slavery after the defeat in 222 B.C. of King Kleomenes III of Sparta (Polyb. 2.65-69; Plut. Cleom. 27 & Phil. 6; Paus. 2.9.2; 3.10.7).

The site itself has not been identified with certainty. The hill of Haghios Konstantinos (9 km to the N of Sparta and 830 m high) is surmounted by an important fortress of apparently triangular shape (ca. 480 x 260 m). The walls, which are 2 to 3 m thick, are constructed without mortar of undressed stone. Two faces of large blocks hold together rubble-work. A cross wall isolated the summit of the hill to the NE. Inside the walls there are few signs of occupation, but the site has never been excavated.

The lower hill of Palaiogoulas (1.5 km to the N, 108 m in height) is surmounted by a wall with a perimeter of some 300 m. There also a cross wall isolates a part of the fortress. The walls, which are ca. 1.75 m thick, are constructed in the same fashion as those of Haghios Konstantinos. Inside the walls are to be found numerous signs of dense habitation: walls of small houses and sherds dating from the 5th to the 2d c. B.C. These finds, and the situation itself of Palaiogoulas, correspond most closely to Polybios' account and Pausanias' description of the final destruction in the Roman period. But Diodoros (15.64) describes Sellasia as a polis. The small dimensions of Palaiogoulas suggest only a small settlement of perioikoi, while the greater dimensions of Haghios Konstantinos do not correspond to those of a nameless fort. The question cannot, therefore, be considered as resolved.


A. Mézières, “Description de la Laconie,” ArchMiss (1854) 5; A. Jochmus, Journ. Roy. Geog. Soc. 27 (1857) 35M; W. Loring, “Some ancient routes in the Peloponnese,” JHS 15 (1895) 73MP; J. Frazer, Paus. Des. Gr. (1897) III 320; J. Kromayer, Antike Schlachtf elder (1903) I 215-77MI; G. Sotiriadis, Τὸ πέδιον τῆς ἐν Σελλασία̣ μαχῆς, BCH 34 (1910), 5-57I; J. Kromayer, “Sellasia,” ibid. 508-37M; G. Sotiriadis, Praktika (1910) 277; id., “Anti-Sellasia,” BCH 35 (1911) 87-107I; F. Bölte, RE, s.v. Sparta, col. 1320; W. K. Pritchett, Studies in Ancient Greek Topography (1965) I 59-70MI.


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