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This Boiotian city is situated near the boundary of Attica, between the last slopes of Mt. Kithairon and the Asopos (Ptol. Geog. 3.15.20; Plin. HN 4.2.6). It was also mentioned by Homer (Il. 2.504).

In 519 B.C. the city obtained the protection of Athens against Thebes, which was trying to annex it. It remained allied with Athens in the battles of Marathon, Artemision, and Salamis, and was sacked by the Persians in 479. For its strenuous resistance to the Persians and for its fidelity to Athens, Plataiai was honored with a gift of 80 talents for the Temple of Athena Areia. Phidias executed the cult statue and Polygnotos painted the walls of the pronaos for the temple. In 431 the Thebans again tried to take over the city. In 429 it was besieged by Archidamos, but its meager forces finally succeeded in forcing the blockade and reached refuge in Athens. In 427 it was occupied and rased to the ground although the temple of Hera was saved and a shelter for visitors was built near it. The Plataians returned to their city only to have it sacked by the Thebans; they retook it with the aid of Sparta, but were attacked again in 372 and the Thebans destroyed the city a second time. From this period until 338 the citizens of Plataiai enjoyed the hospitality of the Athenians. Philip led them home after Chaironeia, and the city was rebuilt under Alexander. During the Roman occupation Plataiai was not molested, in fact Justinian restored its walls. From the end of the 6th c. on Plataiai was a flourishing cult center of Hera (Paus. 9.3.8), of Demeter (Paus. 9.4.3), of Athena (Paus. 10.4.1), of Zeus Eleutherios (Paus., of Artemis (Paus. 1.15.4), and of other minor cults as attested by inscriptions and coins.

Few vestiges of the city before 338 are preserved although near the internal NE corner of the Hellenistic walls there are a few remains of prehistoric walls, and excavation has brought to light fragments of prehistoric pottery and Mycenaean vases. The walls are rather complex. The enclosure built after 338 resembles a bulky polygon with the higher part to the S, where the extremity is defended by a tower. Behind this spur is a second curtain wall with numerous square towers. Circular towers protect the NW and NE corners; and two other extensions of the wall, NW-S and W-E, cross the site of the city. The maximum axes of the circuit are 1500 by 750 m. The 5th c. walls are rather rude work with a tendency toward polygonal technique; the 385 B.C. walls is isodomic work with a squared face; the 338 B.C. walls, restored under Philip, is isodomic trapezoidal work with a rounded face; later repairs and partial rebuilding under Alexander (?) are in isodomic technique with a squared and partly chiseled face.

The temple of Hera (49.9 x 16.7 m), was identified in 1891 on a terrace inside the city wall. To the N of the temple was found the Katagogion, a large hostel with a square plan and rooms on two stories, erected by the Thebans after the destruction of the city in 427 B.C. on a site that was later occupied by the Roman agora (Thuc. Hist. 2.69). Outside the walls to the W and NE are the necropoleis. Not even the site of the temple of Athena Areia has been identified.


H. S. Washington, AJA 6 (1890); A. De Ridder, BCH 44 (1920); R. L. Scranton, Greek Walls (1941); F. Chamoux, BCH 58-59 (1944-45); W. B. Dinsmoor, The Architecture of Ancient Greece (1950); M. Poëte, La città antica (1958); S. Karouzou, Deltion 1960 16 (1962); C. N. Edmondson, JHS 84 (1964); G.-J. M.-J. Te Riele, Mnemosyne 4 (1966); R. Weil, REG 80 (1967); Excavations: Papers Amer. Sch. Athens 5 (1886-90); 6 (1890-92); AJA 5-7 (1889-91); Praktika (1899); History of city and its battles: C. Fritsche, Geschichte Plateas bis zur Zestörung d. Stadt durch die Thebaner in 4. Jahr. v.C. (1898); W. K. Pritchett, AJA 61 (1957); id., Studies in Ancient Topography I (1965); A. Balil, Est. Clás. 6 (32) (1961-62); B. Moos, Vorgeschichte und Vorlauf der Schlacht von Plataiai (Diss. 1963).


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