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23/05/2008

Geography of Ancient Arcadia

University of Peloponnisos


Mount Lykeon
Mount Parnonas

Geographically, ancient Arcadia was different than today and it did not included the province of Kynouria, therefore it was not washed by sea. Despite, however, the absence of Kynouria (today is the largest province), ancient Arcadia was larger in area than it is today since its northwest borders were extended and enclosed areas that now belong to the Prefectures of Corinth, Achaia and Ilia. To the north, it extended to include entirely the province of Kalavrita that belonged to the administrative backbone of Azania. In the north-east it included areas of southwestern Korinthia and namely the provinces of Feneos and Stymfalia and at the east a small part of west Argolida. Finally, to the west it enclosed many parts of Elis in the province of Olympia and specifically the regions of Figaleia and Alifeira.

Since we declared the areas where ancient Arcadia extended let's take a virtual tour around its borders. We start our tour from mount Lykeon, the sacred mountain of the Arcadians, the birthplace of Zeus. From there and looking east, towards the valley of Megalopolis, we are walking counterclockwise. Our first stop will be the mountains Nomia (in the region of Gortynia) which together with Lykeon form the natural borders with Messinia. We continue walking towards the Laconian peninsula were we meet mount Voreio and the slopes of Taygetos and Parnonas, where the "Hermean Columns" mark the borders with Lakedaimonia. We continue eastwards where walking on the footsteps of the ancients on the "TroNikitarasxos route " (in the region of Tegea) we cross Mount Parthenio and cutting through the passage of "Portitsa" we climb on mount Artemisio (Mantinea), the residence of goddess Artemis. From there we continue northeast towards Mount Trahi (Levidi) and mount Oligyrto. These four mountains delineate the boundaries with Argolida. Continuing along the borders to the northeast, we reach the beautiful mount Kyllini (Zireia), where we are going to make a short stop in order to pay prices to the newborn Hermes, and the Aroania mountains (Chelmos) which were the limits with Corinthia and southeastern Achaia. We continue northwest where the mountains Erymantho, Lampeia and Foloi together with Alfeios river define the borders with Elis (Ilia). Crossing Alfeios (at Iraia) we ascent to mountain kotylio and from there we reach back to where we started our journey, to Mount Lykeon.

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