The Search For The Location Of The Phokian Skirmish
June 2001, Thermopylae, GREECE
Segments of the expedition were filmed by Atlantic Productions for the BBC and the Discovery Channel
The Leonidas Expedition is endorsed and supported by the Center for
Hellenic Studies PAIDEIA, at the Univ. of Connecticut
Prof. Peter Green, Univ. of Iowa
The Leonidas 2001 Expedition was sponsored in part by a very generous contribution from the McNiece Family, Tucson, AZ
We wish to thank Atlantic Productions, London, England for supporting the Leonidas 2001 Expedition
Metal Detection Equipment kindly provided by Garrett
Global Positioning Systems kindly provided by Magellan
The Leonidas 2000 Expedition raised new questions and it has become necessary for us to return to the site for further work. Specifically, we shall be addressing the following points:
(1) Where is the actual location of the skirmish that took place between Hydarnes and the Immortals, and the contingent of 1000 Phokians sent by Leonidas to guard the Anopaia? Current thinking sites the location of this extremely important skirmish at Nevropolis. Yet we know from Herodotus that after the skirmish the Persians marched on and descended the mountain. However, it is impossible to descend the mountain from Nevropolis because the crest is a further 1.8 miles up the mountain. We propose to examine the site at Nevropolis and the crest using metal detectors***. Since we know that the Persians fired thousands of arrows against the Phokians it should be possible to locate arrowheads at one of the two locations. We believe the significance of the skirmish has not been fully articulated. For example, had the Phokians been able to hold the Persians, the pass at Thermopylae may have never been overrun. Thus, the Phokian defeat sealed the fate of Leonidas and the allies and contributed to the destruction of Athens. For these reasons locating the site of the skirmish has important historical significance.
(2) An alternate path, starting at the upper Asopus just below Kastro Orias, by way of Papadhia, leads directly to Nevropolis. This appears to be a more gentle rise up Kallidromos and we hypothesize that this may also be a likely candidate.
There are two issues associated with this question. The first has to do with the path taken by the Immortals. The second has to do with whether this was in fact the true Anopaia. If the Persians marched up from the upper Asopus (just below Kastro Orias), up to Elevtherochori through Kalivia, they probably did not connect with the Anopaia (the Anopaia was both a major pathway but it was also the name of the mountain!) until Elevtherochori or Nevropolis, depending on where you care to fix the beginning of the path. Alternatively, if we assume that the Anopaia started by the upper Asopus (and there is a cleft here as well), and connected with Nevropolis by way of Papadhia, then the Persians may well have taken the Anopaia where it started, by the cleft in the hills below Kastro Orias. This route, and the route through Elevtherochori from Kalivia assume, of course, that the Immortals approached the Anopaia by way of Varthates and Dyo Vouna. The time estimates for walking from Varthates down to the valley of the upper Asopus, up by Kalivia to Elevtherochori and then to Nevropolis fit very closely those given us by Herodotus. At this time, we don't know how the way from Papadhia to Nevropolis compares with the other routes we examined, hence the need to return to Thermopylae in the spring of 2001.
(3) Unresolved inconsistencies in Herodotus regarding the beginning of the path require that we investigate further the path from Koutseki (Ano/Kato Damasta), by way of Chalkomata Spring to Elevtherochori and/or by way of the Damasta Monastery (by-passing Elevtherochori). Three significant passages in Herodotus suggest that the location of the beginning of the path is not the upper Asopos (below Kastro Orias) but where the Asopos debouches into the Malian Plain. Herodotus writes, "South of Trachis (he means east) there is a cleft in the mountain range which shuts in the territory of Trachinia; and the river Asopus issuing from this cleft flows....." Further, he continues by stating that, "in this space is located the village of Anthela, which the river Asopus passes ere it reaches the sea." And finally, Herodotus describes the beginning of the path thus: "Beginning at the Asopus, where the stream flows through the cleft in the hills, it runs along the ridge of the mountain..." When taken together, these passages locate the beginning of the path near Trachis and Anthela (and we know their location from the works of various archaeologists), east of the Asopus Gorge. This location is the same as the one proposed by previous explorers and it's called the Chalkomata Spring approach. While the time estimates for hiking this path, as given us by Wallace and Pritchett (from Koutseki to Elevtherochori), would have the Persians engaging the Phokians about four hours before dawn, which is too early according to current thinking and our analysis, we are nevertheless of the opinion that this path merits further examination.
Finally, we recently received information from a colleague in Thessaloniki, a Mr. Syntomorou, who has suggested a fifth possibility. This alternate path (more on this at a later date) begins at the Asopus in the Malian Plane and continues through Panaya Damastas and up through PaleoDrakospilia, passing between Kallidromos and Paliokastro Hill (north of Kallidromos Mountain. Documentary evidence provided by Mr Syntomorou make this an option worth investigating.
*** SPONSORS: We are seeking funding for this expedition. Sponsors will be extensively acknowledged on our website, in media coverage and in published papers. If interested, please write to us at: ayianATattglobal.net (where AT = @ )
2001 Expedition Members
Andrew Yiannakis, Ph.D., University of Connecticut (ayianATattglobal.net where AT = @ )
Stavros Douvis, Ph.D. University of Athens
Phil Tomporowski, Ph.D., University of Connecticut
Ian Macgregor Morris, Ph.D., University of Manchester