(var. Phigalein, Phialia, or Phialeus) SW
A polis within the district of
Parrhasia. Geographically isolated, Phigalia was linked
historically with S Triphylia (viz., Lepreon) and the upper Messenian plain. The city (1500 x 2500 m) spreads
over an uneven plateau 300 m above the deep gorge of
the Neda river which permitted access to the coast of
Triphylia 15 km to the W. Citizens frequently aided Messenians in their wars and revolts against Sparta; in reprisal, the Spartans beseiged and occupied Phigalia several times in the 7th and 6th c. B.C. and between 421 to
ca. 414 B.C. and again ca. 401-395. In Hellenistic times
Phigalia was a member of the Aitolian and Achean
Leagues; in the Roman period it went into decline, but
has remained continuously occupied.
The site is unexcavated, but chance finds indicate that
the site was occupied by the Late Bronze Age; considerable remains of the archaic, Classical, and Roman periods lie exposed. Fortification walls are preserved for a length of ca. one km along the E and N sides of the
acropolis and stand to heights of 10 m in some parts.
Stretches of the circuit may date as early as the 5th c.
B.C. but in the mid 4th c. B.C. portions were rebuilt for
the addition of square and circular towers. An outer, but
uncharted, circuit of walls exists to the far W of the city.
In the SE a Hellenistic fountain-house continues to
function; nearby, a Byzantine Chapel of the Panagia is
built into the superstructure of an Ionic building. In the
W section a long stoa with shafts of several columns still
in situ delineates one side of an open, level area which
appears to be the agora. Adjacent, a destroyed chapel
contains architectural members from a building of the
Classical period. An archaic kouros, found here in 1890,
is now at Olympia and perhaps is to be identified as the
victor Arrachion (564 B.C.), described by Pausanias. A
Sanctuary to Athena is on a low hill to the W, overlooking the agora.
The acropolis of the city (elev. 720 m) lies in the N
sector. A Sanctuary to Artemis Soteirias is on the crown,
now occupied by a Church to Haghios Elias. Chamber
tombs line the scarps of surrounding hills. Numerous but
unidentified monuments are scattered throughout the confines of the city. Ancient sources attest to the existence
of a Polemarchion, a theater, a gymnasium, a Temple of
Dionysos Akratophoros, Sanctuaries of Hygeia and Asklepios, and Heröons of the Oresthasions and Lepreos.
E. Meyer, RE
(1938) 2065-85, s.v.
Phigaleia; A. Tselalis, Olympiaka
(1954) I 3; U. Kahrstedt, Das wirtschaftliche Gesicht Griechenlands in der
(1954) 160-61; G.-J. te Riele, “Inscriptions de
103 (1966) 248-73; F. Cooper, Temple
of Apollo at Bassai, Ph.D. diss., Univ. Microfilms
(1970), Appendices B, C, F (history and prosopographical index of Phigalia); F. E. Winter, Greek Fortifications
(1971) 111-12; F. Cooper, “Topographical Notes from
Southwest Arkadia,” AAA
5 (1972) 359-67.
F. A. COOPER