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CHAIRONEIA Boiotia, Greece.

Situated at the NW entrance to the region in the narrow Kephissos plain lying between Mt. Thourion and Mt. Akontion, at the modern village of Chaironeia (formerly Kapraina).

The gateway to Boiotia, Chaironeia had a Neolithic settlement but apparently none in the Mycenaean age. Whether it is the Amne of Homer is doubtful. Chaironeia was subject to Orchomenos up to the end of the 5th c. B.C., then with Akmaiphia and Kopai formed one of the 11 Boiotian districts until 387 and again, after a period of autonomy, from 371 to 338 B.C. It then enjoyed independence in the Boiotian Koinon and was granted the status of a civitas libera by the Romans. Three famous battles were fought in the Chaironeian plain: in 338 Philip II's Macedonians carried off a decisive victory over the Athenians, the Boiotians, and their allies; in 245 the army of the Aitolian League fought that of the Boiotian League; and in 86 B.C. Sulla and his 20,000 Romans crushed Mithnidates' forces, over 100,000 strong, commanded by Archelaos.

The city of Chaironeia, of which there are only insignificant remains, lies at the foot of Mt. Petrachos, on top of which is the acropolis. Plutarch (ca. 46-120) was born and died here. In the Church of the Panagia can be seen a marble Roman seat, the so-called seat of Plutarch, and many inscribed stones in the walls. At the foot of the N summit of Mt. Petrachos is a little theater completely cut in the rock; its 14 tiers are arranged in two unequal blocks. Above the last tier is a dedication to Apollo Daphnaphonios and Artemis Soodina. The Chapel of Hagia Paraskevi is built on the site of a Temple of Herakles on the slopes of Mt. Thourion. The sanctuary of Sarapis, where many slaves were freed from the 3d to 1st c. B.C., has not been traced.

The acropolis occupies both summits of Mt. Petrachos and dominates the Kephissos valley from a height of 150 m. Around it is a 4th c. rampart, well preserved and >built in regular courses except on the W slope where the >old wall has been preserved and strengthened with cyclopean masonry. To the E a ramp cut in the rock led to the only gate. Several towers fortified the rampart. The field where the battle of 338 took place is 2 km E of the village, between Mt. Thourion and the Kephissos, along the banks of the Haimon brook. The victorious Spartans burned their dead close by the Kephissos. Excavation of a tumulus at this spot revealed a pyre, 10 m in diameter and 0.75 m high, with bones and fragments of weapons in the ashes; it was covered over by a conical mound of earth 70 m in diameter and 7 m high. The bodies of the Sacred Band of Thebans that was crushed by Alexander were buried several days after the battle. From ancient times the “Lion of Chaironeia” was believed to be their funeral monument. Discovered in 1818, then smashed, restored, and replaced on a plinth 3 m high, the lion stands 5.50 m high; it is made of five blocks of marble, three of them hollow. It is a replica of the lion on the polyandrion of Thespini. The monument is on the N side of a rectangular penbolos (approximately 24 x 15 m). Within this area was found a tomb 4.30 x 3.60 m ringed by a wall 2.30 m high and containing 254 skeletons arranged in seven layers; two of the bodies had been incinerated. The weapons had been removed (the skeletons are at the National Museum in Athens, the other finds at the Chaironeia Museum).


J. G. Frazer, Paus. Des. Gr. V (1898) 205-10; B. Oberhummer in RE (1899) s.v. Chaironeia; G. Sotiriadis in Praktika 1902-4, 1909; Guide Bleu, Grèce (1962) 664-65; B. Kirsten & W. Kraiker, Griechenlandkunde5 (1967), 242-46M; N. Papahadjis, Pausaniou Hellados Periegesis V (1969) 235-45MI.


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