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KASTRORACHI (“Sperchieiai”) Thessaly, Greece.

Sperchieiai was apparently included in Dolopia rather than Ainis as it was under Macedonian, not Aitohan, control in 198 B.C. The Aitolians crossed Oeta, and, entering the Spercheios valley near Hypata, ravaged Sperchieiai and Makrakome on their way N to Thessaly proper (Livy 32.13.10; see Dhranista, Metropolis). It is presumed that the city was in the Spercheios valley, near and to the NW of Hypata, on the way to the Yiannitsou pass, which is the presumed route of the Aitolians over the mountains to Thessaly. In this area are three possible sites so far discovered. South of the river, there is a site at Kastrorachi on an isolated hill (314 m) on the river's edge, opposite to modern Vitoli. Its N side is washed by the Spercheios, the W by an influent, the Papagourna. The circuit wall which follows the form of the hill is in the shape of a long oval N-S with an abrupt square extension jutting out of the E side. The wall is intermittently preserved to a height of ca. 2 km. The masonry is of rectangular and nearly square rough-faced blocks of varying heights, but laid in fairly regular courses.

At Helleniko is another fortress. This is 1 1/2 hours S of the last site, on the N slope of Oeta, above the villages of Phteri and Kato Phteri and Palaiovracha, and between them and Ano Phteri, on a height of ca. 600 m. Here a wall circuit, perhaps 3d-2d c., of triangular shape surrounds two peaks.

Above Varibobi (now Makrakomi) on the left (N) bank of the Spercheios is the third site. This commands the entrance to the Yiannitsou pass. Its walls surround the peak of the hill N of the modern town. The hill is called Kastri, and on the summit (285 m) is a Chapel of Haghios Elias. The walls are in the shape of a long, irregular oval running N-S, the perimeter about 1550 m. The identity of none of these sites is certain but probably Sperchieiai was at Kastrorachi or at Varibobi.


F. Stählin, Das Hellenische Thessalien (1924) 223-24P (Varibobi plan); id., RE2 (1929) s.v. Sperchieiai, Sosthenis; Y. Béquignon, BCH 52 (1928) 444-52I; id., La Vallée du Spercheios (1937) 313-22MPI (no plan of Hellenika); G. Daux, BCH 58 (1934) 157-67 (Sosthenis); A. Philippson, GL I 1 (1950) 244; G. Roux, “Notes sur les Antiquités de Macra Come,” BCH 78 (1954) 89-94MI.


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