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ATRAX Thessaly, Greece.

A city of Pelasgiotis (Strab. 9.441), 10 Roman miles from Larissa (Livy 32.15.8) by the Peneios (Strab. 9.438), evidently prosperous from at least the 5th c. It issued coinage en. 400 B.C. It had a Macedonian garrison and was besieged by T. Quinctius Flamininus in 198 B.C. but he failed to take it, as did Antiochus III in 191 B.C. when it was a Roman stronghold (Livy 32.15.8, 17.4-18; 33.10.2, 13.4).

Atrax is commonly now identified with a site (Palaiokastro) on the right bank of the Peneios near modern Alifaka, ca. 23 km W of Larissa. The walls of the site have a circuit of about 3 km, surrounding an acropolis peak (265 m) which is a N spur of modern Mt. Dhovroutsi, and coming down the hill to the river plain, where the wall is poorly preserved. A cross wall divided the circuit into an upper and lower city. The original wall was built of rough stones and was about 3 to 4 m thick; it may have been Mycenaean. In Hellenistic times (?) this wall was repaired with rectangular blocks and the wall between the acropolis and city, immediately below the acropolis, was provided with five towers. The wall was again improved in Byzantine times. In the lower city architectural fragments are frequent. By the river are a number of sarcophagi. Some ancient objects have come from this site, including a 6th c. B.C. marble head.

Six km W of the site by Koutsochiro, a Chapel of Haghias Nikolaus stands on a mound. Inscriptions of Atrax were found here. This site may have been a Temple of Poseidon, and the area seems to belong naturally to the Alifaka site, so supporting the Atrax-Alifaka site identification.

Leake and later Edmonds favored placing Atrax at Gunitza, where a large wall circuit of rough stones climbs the steep hill on the left bank of the Peneios just as it enters the E Thessalian plain. Stählin placed Argura here. Lack of Classical and Hellenistic sherds, however, have led to the belief this was not a city in Greek times. For the Alifaka site Edmonds suggested Phakion.


W. M. Leake, Nor. Gr. (1835) I 433; III 368 (Gunitza); IV 292. H. G. Lolling, AM 8 (1883) 111, 129f; C. D. Edmonds, BSA 5 (1898-99) 21f, 24; A. S. Arvanitopoullos, Praktika (1910) 187f; (1914) 217f; id., ArchEph (1913) 236; F. Stählin, Das hellenische Thessalien (1924) 101fP; V. Milojćić, AA (1955) 219I; (1960) 171 (Gunitza); H. Biesantz, Die Thessalischen Grabreliefs (1965) 122; D. Theocharis, Deltion 21 (1966) chron. 246.


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    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 32, 15.8
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