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Map of Thessaly
Classification of ancient Thessaly

Thessaly ( ancient Greek Θεσσαλία ) is a historical landscape in northern Greece between Macedonia , Epeiros and central Greece . Thessaly was the settlement area of ​​the tribe of the Thessaloi ( ancient Greek Θεσσαλοί , Thessaler / Thessalian).


View of the Thessalian plain with the Pinios river
Pindus Mountains north of the village of Neraidochori

Thessaly has an area of ​​approx. 9780 km². It is limited by the mountain ranges of the Olympos in the north, the Pindos in the west, the Othrys in the south and the Ossa to the sea in the east. In between extends the fertile Thessalian plain. The main rivers through the Thessalian plain are the Titarisios and the Pinios .


Prehistory and early history

Middle and Upper Palaeolithic: Neanderthals, anatomically modern man

The oldest , still very isolated traces of settlement found in Thessaly near Larisa date from the Middle Paleolithic and go back to Neanderthals . The tee - and blades industry of Rodia with just a few hand axes was estimated to be 200,000 to 400,000 years. There is also the Theopetra Cave , which was visited from the Middle Paleolithic to the Neolithic , as well as Mesolithic finds in the Klissoura Cave.

Neolithic: rural cultures

Clay female torso, sesklo

Since the beginning of the Neolithic , the landscape soon became denser. More than 400 places of human settlement have already been documented through archaeological excavations. An important capital of the 6th / 5th centuries. Millennium BC Was the Tell Sesklo in the east of Thessaly, after which a separate cultural stage is named. It covered an area of ​​13 hectares. For the late Neolithic, Sesklo could have controlled surrounding villages that served to supply the town-like settlement. In the 4th millennium BC The late Neolithic Tell of Dimini was an important center and gave its name to the Dimini culture (4300 to 3300 BC). The tells were very unevenly distributed. Half of them were concentrated in Central Hessen.

From the Copper Age to the Iron Age

During the Copper Age, the drier Thessaly had far fewer connections to the north, but more intensive connections to the south. Magoule like Argissa or Pevkakia on a rock near the coast are evidence of Anatolian influence. At the same time, as in Pevkakia, the first fortresses were built.

There was a sharp decrease in population and destruction at the transition from the Early Helladic II to the Early Helladic III (approx. 2200 BC). The causes are still being discussed. In any case, the settlement structures, the funeral customs, the entire material culture changed.

From the middle of the 2nd millennium BC There was an ever stronger influence by the Mycenaean culture . Above all, the coastal areas on the Pagasitic Gulf were very strongly Mycenaean as a result, as testify to larger Mycenaean building complexes and finds of Linear B script in Dimini as well as several monumental Tholos graves and a larger settlement in or around Volos . In the area of ​​Volos Iolkos is usually localized, from where, according to the old legend, Jason and the Argonauts are said to have set off to rob the Golden Fleece . Achilles , the main Greek hero in the Iliad , was born in the Phthia district in southern Thessaly. The Mycenaean sites in Greece shared certain peculiarities, such as the emphasis on the structural center, a dominant location and the proximity to water and good arable land in large settlements and palace centers. They were also on lines connecting the sea to the hinterland. The Mycenaean culture expanded north to Olympus , reached in the course of the 15th century BC. The Cyclades and some cities on the coast of western Asia Minor in the east and Crete and the Dodecanese in the southeast. Around 1200 BC All palaces on the Greek mainland suffered a violent end and some were never rebuilt.

According to ancient sources such as Herodotus and Thucydides , the end of the 2nd millennium BC The Thessalians coming from Epirus settled in the landscape later called Thessaly. (The Iliad does not yet know the name of Thessaly.) The penests who had already resided here either gave way or had to submit and do labor in their fields. The Thessalian dialect remained essentially Aeolian .

The Thessalians expanded their sphere of influence in the second half of the 7th century BC. Chr. To settling in the neighborhood Perioeci , namely to the east of them settled along the coast magnets to the south in the Fthiotida living Achaeans and the northwest seated Perrhaiber . These peoples had to recognize the sovereignty of the Thessalians and pay tribute to them as well as perform military service. The southwest of the Thessalians at Pindos -Gebirge settled Dolopes and in the valley of Spercheios based Ainianen and Malians did retain a greater autonomy.

The Thessalians had a dominant position in the Pylean-Delphic amphictyony , since they had 14 of the 24 votes together with the periocs they were subject to. Therefore, at the beginning of the 6th century, they assumed the leading role in the First Holy War . After that they were able to gain dominance over Phocis and even become a threat to Boeotia , but lost around 550 BC. These territorial gains again. Thereupon they sided with the Athens ruling Peisistratiden .

A few noble families, who often feuded, exercised power in the country whose poles formed the Thessalian League . For example, the government of the larger cities and their territories was in the hands of aristocratic families. The Aleuads in Larissa, the Echekratids in Pharsalos and the Scopads in Krannon were particularly respected . The nobility of Penesten managed their huge estates. Aleuas of Larissa led in the second half of the 6th century BC. BC carried out a reorganization of the Thessalian League by setting up the four districts (tetrads) ruled by tetrarchs , Hestiaiotis , Pelasgiotis , Thessalioitis and Phthiotis , into which Thessaly was divided, as defense districts and creating the office of Tagos as head of the League. The military high command fell to the Tagos; however, this was only chosen in times of crisis. The famous Thessalian cavalry was particularly powerful militarily.

Classical Greek time

The Aleuads continued around 490 BC. BC against the opposition of the other aristocratic families through an alliance of Thessaly with the Persians and supported 480 BC. The invasion of the Achaemenid great king Xerxes I in Greece, which failed. Following the Persian Wars , the Echekratids fell to dominate Thessaly. They achieved that the land 461 BC. Entered into a pact with Athens, but in the military confrontation between Athens and Sparta in the battle of Tanagra (457 BC) the Thessalian cavalry defected to the Spartans. Disputes between the Thessalian nobles meant that the entire league was in alliance with Athens in the Peloponnesian War , but the Spartan general Brasidas , when he was on his way to Macedonia in 424 BC. BC marched through Thessaly, but received the support of many a nobleman established there. In general it came about in the course of the 5th century BC. Apparently to a weakening of the central power; the thessalische Bund did not have much power and the Tagos became less important politically.

As a result of the mutual competition between the Thessalian noble houses, Lycophron of Pherai achieved an important rise; he established in Pherai in 404 BC A popular " tyranny ", fought the Aleuads and concluded an alliance with Sparta, but could not achieve the hegemony he sought over all of Thessaly. This succeeded his successor Jason , who 375/74 BC. The office of Tagos was transferred, but already 370 BC. Fell victim to an assassination attempt. The political unity of Thessaly was over again, although the dynasts who reigned in Pherai after Jason - initially the brothers Polydorus and Polyphron for a short time and then Alexander von Pherai - initially continued to exercise the office of Tagos. The Aleuads sought support from the Macedonian King Alexander II against the attempts at power emanating from Pherai . Later they turned to Thebes , whose general Pelopidas often interfered in this conflict, but in 364 BC. Died in the battle at Kynoskephalai. Nevertheless, the power of Alexander of Pherai was subsequently significantly curtailed, the Thessalian league was reformed to strengthen the central power and its head was no longer called Tagos, but Archon and elected annually. 358 BC The murder of Alexander of Pherai took place at the instigation of his wife Thebe .

The Thessalian Federation fought from 356 BC. In the Third Holy War against the Phocians , who were allied with the rulers of Pherai, Lycophron and Peitholaos . With the help of King Philip II of Macedonia , the league remained victorious, but Philip II now gained control of Thessaly and became its military leader for life. Thessaly, reorganized as a unified state, was again subdivided into tetrarchies by the Macedonian king, at the head of which Philip put men entirely devoted to him. The land also entered the 337 BC. Founded the Corinthian Covenant and after Philip's murder in 336 BC His son and successor Alexander the Great made an important contingent of riders available for the Asian campaign .

Hellenistic epoch and Roman rule

After the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC The Thessalians took part in the unsuccessful attempt at insurrection of the Hellenic League against the Macedonian hegemony ( Lamish war ), led by Athens . Another revolt of the Thessaly and Aitolians suppressed 321 BC. Chr. Polyperchon . Further tendencies towards apostasy experienced after 294 BC. A reduction in the new city of Demetrias by Demetrios I. Poliorketes . Pyrrhos I of Epiros, however, favored the independence of Thessaly, and only when he was fighting for Argos in 272 BC. Fell, the Macedonian control over the country stabilized for a longer period of time. From 230 BC, Thessaly fell to the east. In the hands of the Aitolians, but King Philip V managed to get it since 217 BC. The reclamation of the lost territory; he reached the Phthiotis and took the more important city of Thebes .

When Philip V fought the second Macedonian-Roman war against the rising Roman Empire and Hellenistic states allied with it, Thessaly was an essential theater of war. The Macedonian king suffered in the battle of Kynoskephalai in 197 BC. A decisive defeat and lost the hegemony over Thessaly. Titus Quinctius Flamininus declared in the early summer of 196 BC At the Isthmian Games the freedom of the Hellenes. With this, Thessaly, to which the phthiotic Achaeans were now added again, received at least nominally its independence back through the Romans. Thessalers, Perrhaber and magnets were organized as sovereign city leagues. An annually changing strategist acted as head of the Thessalian Federation. A covenant cult for Zeus Eleutherios was also introduced in the capital Larissa , in whose honor agons were held. The penest class no longer existed.

The third Macedonian-Roman war took place mainly on the Thessalian territory. The Macedonian king Perseus was defeated in 168 BC. At the Battle of Pydna of the Roman Republic . The existence of the Thessalian League was not affected, even after its territory in 148 BC. Was added to the now Roman province of Macedonia . When Caesar and Pompey fought each other a century later , they carried out the decisive phase of their military conflict ( Battle of Pharsalus ) in 48 BC. In Thessaly. This came on the occasion of the new provincial order of Augustus 27 BC. To Achaea . The Roman emperor practiced in 27/26 BC The office of strategist of the Thessalian Federation.

Towards the end of the 3rd century AD, Diocletian finally established Thessaly, together with Magnesia, as a separate province as part of his administrative reform, which belonged to a larger administrative unit, the diocese of Moesiae .

Late antiquity, medieval and early modern times

From the 4th century bishops can be found in cities of Thessaly. Under Emperor Theodosius I , the landscape came to the eastern half of the Roman Empire in 392. If the Goths invaded Thessaly in 380–382, this was repeated under Alaric I in 395 and in 481. Other tribes also undertook invasions, such as the Bulgarians in 517. The Byzantines slipped away from the second half of the 6th century Increasing rule over Thessaly and Slavic peoples were now settled there. After the campaigns of Staurakios 782-783, the Byzantines were able to regain control of Thessaly. At the end of the 10th century, the Bulgarian ruler Samuel attacked the region, which was also devastated by the men of Robert Guiskard in 1082 . After the end of the Fourth Crusade in 1204, Thessaly fell to the Kingdom of Thessaloniki , which was first ruled by Boniface I of Montferrat until 1207 . The despot of Epirus, Theodoros I Angelos , was able to take possession of Thessaly in 1216. After further changes of rule this was occupied in 1348 by the Serbian monarch Stefan Dušan , whose successor in Thessaly was his half-brother Simeon Uroš , who opened his residence in Trikala . Simeon's son and successor Jovan Uroš decided around 1373 to live as a monk from then on. In 1393, Thessaly was conquered by the Turks under Sultan Bayezid I and most of it remained with the Ottoman Empire until 1881 when it became part of the Kingdom of Greece.



Individual evidence

  1. ^ Vangelis Tourloukis: The Early and Middle Pleistocene Archaeological Record of Greece. Current Status and Future Prospects , Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam 2011.
  2. tephra layers have been dated precisely there: Panagiotis Karkanas , Dustin White, Christine S. Lane, Chris Stringer, William Davies, Victoria L. Cullen, Victoria C. Smith, Maria Ntinou, Georgia Tsartsidou, Nina Kyparissi-Apostolika: tephra correlations and climatic events between the MIS6 / 5 transition and the beginning of MIS3 in Theopetra Cave, central Greece , in: Quaternary Science Reviews June 17, 2014. The oldest layer was dated to ∼128,000–131,000 years, the other two were dated to over 50,000 years or more. Estimated 45,700 years ( abstract )
  3. Britt M. Starkovich: Fallow Deer (Dama dama) Hunting During the Late Pleistocene at Klissoura Cave 1 (Peloponnese, Greece) , in: Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft für Urgeschichte 21 (2012) 11-36 ( online, PDF ( Memento des Originals vom July 14, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. ). @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. Birgitta Eder : Considerations on the political geography of the Mycenaean world, or: Arguments for the supra-regional importance of Mycenae in the Late Bronze Age Aegean. In: Geographia Antiqua. XVIII, 2009, p. 32 f.
  5. For the northern and western extension of the Mycenaean culture see Birgitta Eder: Im Spiegel der Siegel. The northern and western regions of Greece in the field of tension between the Mycenaean palaces. In: Eva Alram-Stern , Georg Nightingale (Ed.): Keimelion. Elite education and elitist consumption from the Mycenaean palace period to the Homeric era. Files from the international congress from February 3rd to 5th, 2005 in Salzburg. Publications of the Mycenaean Commission 27, Vienna 2007, pp. 81–124.
  6. Herodotus, Historien 7, 176, 4; Thucydides, Peloponnesian War 1, 12, 3; on this Ernst Meyer : Thessalien. In: The Little Pauly (KlP). Volume 5, Stuttgart 1975, column 757.

Web links

Commons : Thessaly  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Commons : Ancient Thessaly  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files