The first city of the ancient region, not counting the Delphic sanctuary. Controlling the natural route from the N into the Kephisos valley, Elateia was repeatedly attacked, sacked, burned, occupied; earthquakes destroyed what enemies had spared. The one attempt at excavation of the Classical town revealed few remains; only the Temple of Athena Kranaia, located some 3 km SE of the city, yielded important remains. Numerous inscriptions, including grave stelai from plundered cemeteries, complement the textual evidence concerning Classical Elateia. However, the wellwatered valley attracted primitive men and many mounds attest their early settlements. Those near modern Drachmani, below ancient Elateia, were explored early in this century and one of these mounds was again excavated in 1959. Occupation here began about 6000 B.C. and lasted the three millennia of the Neolithic Period, establishing stratigraphically its three main phases.
S.S. Weinberg, ed.
This text is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites, Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Sep 2002 from Perseus Project URL below, which contains bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.
Eth. Elateus. A city of Phocis, and the most important place in the
country after Delphi, was situated about the middle of the great fertile basin
which extends near 20 miles from the narrows of the Cephissus below Amphicleia
to those which are at the entrance into Boeotia. (Leake). Hence it was admirably
placed for commanding the passes into Southern Greece from Mt. Oeta, and became
a post of great military importance. (Strab. ix. p. 424.) Pausanias describes
it as situated over against Amphicleia, at the distance of 180 stadia from the
latter town, on a gently rising slope in the plain of the Cephissus (x. 34. §
1.) Elateia is not mentioned by Homer. Its inhabitants claimed to be Arcadians,
derivingu their name from Elatus, the son of Areas. (Paus. l. c.) It was burnt,
along with the other Phocian towns, by the army of Xerxes. (Herod. viii. 33.)
When Philip entered Phocis in B.C. 338, with the professed object of conducting
the war against Amphissa, he seized Elateia and began to restore its fortifications.
The alarm occasioned at Athens by the news of this event shows that this place
was then regarded as the key of Southern Greece. (Dem. de Cor. p. 284: Aeschin.
in Ctes. p. 73; Diod. xvi. 84.) The subsequent history of Elateia is given in
some detail by Pausanias (l. c.). It successfully resisted Cassander, but it was
taken by Philip, the son of Demetrius. It remained faithful to Philip when the
Romans invaded Greece, and was taken by assault by the Romans in B.C. 198. (Liv.
xxxii. 24.) At a later time the Romans declared the town to be free, because the
inhabitants had repulsed an attack which Taxiles, the general of Mithridates,
had made upon the place.
Among the objects worthy of notice in Elateia, Pausanias mentions the agora, a temple of Asclepius containing a beardless statue of the god, a theatre, and an ancient brazen statue of Athena. He also mentions a temple of Athena Cranaea, situated at the distance of 20 stadia from Elateia: the road to it was a very gentle ascent, but the temple stood upon a steep hill of small size.
Elateia is represented by the modern village of Lefta, where are some Hellenic remains, and where the ancient name was found in an inscription extant in the time of Meletius. Some remains of the temple of Athena Cranaea have also been discovered in the situation described by Pausanias.
This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited May 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
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