Tegea

Tegea is situated within a large fertile plain in central Arcadia at elevations ranging from 660-675 masl. The terrain is pocketed by rivers and streams originating from the surrounding mountains. The well-watered landscape is ideal for agriculture, which predominates today. A scattering of farming villages and industrial installations are dispersed throughout. The most prominent of these within or close to the ancient settlement are Episkopi, Alea, and Stadio. In classical antiquity, Tegea was an important political and military center in Arcadia whose foundation is often dated to the period 550-450 B.C.E. It was also an important religious center with the sanctuary of Athena Alea. Remains at the sanctuary date as early as the Geometric period, but the current temple dates to the 4th century B.C.E. Besides the temple, the most visible monuments in the city today are the agora and adjacent theater. The exact boundaries of the settlement are unclear, since most of the fortification walls are destroyed or remain below the surface.


In the late 19th century, the Germans excavated part of the sanctuary of Athena Alea under the direction of A. Milchhöfer and W. Dörpfeld. Around the same time, the French School conducted limited research from 1888-89 under the direction of G. Fougères (who also worked at Mantinea) and V. Bérard. Larger excavations at the sanctuary were conducted by G. Mendel and C. Dugas of the French School between 1900-10. Limited work was undertaken in the following decades until the Norwegian Institute at Athens (www.norwinst.gr) initiated a multi-year fieldwork campaign beginning in the 1980s. Their first priority was a reexamination of the sanctuary of Athena Alea and its famous classical temple. A two phase surface survey of the urban area and rural hinterlands of Tegea were also initiated by the Norwegians. Phase I of the Norwegian Arkadia Survey (1998-01), directed by K. Ødegård, concentrated on studying the largely unexplored urban area of Tegea. From the distribution of surface pottery and the identification of some sections of the fortification walls, it was concluded that the sanctuary of Athena Alea was an extramural place of worship. Phase II of the Norwegian Arkadia Survey (2008-present), directed by Jørgen Bakke, focuses more on the rural territory of Tegea. In the meantime, a geophysical survey was conducted using magnetics around the theater and agora. The results have not been published fully, but the data, although limited, identify an organized street system and (possible) sections of the fortification walls. If the street system corresponds to the initial foundation of Tegea (550-450 B.CE.), then it may be an early example of an organized settlement in the Peloponnese. Finally, the Norwegians have coordinated with the Archaeological Ephorate of Tripolis to conduct excavations in and around the agora.


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