Information about the place TANAGRA (Ancient city) VIOTIA - GTP - Greek Travel Pages

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The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites

Tanagra

  An ancient city some 20 km E of Thebes and 5 km SE of Schimatari. The city was situated on a hill off the E end of Mt. Kerykeion, on the left bank of the Asopos where it meets the Lari stream. The hill, which slopes down in terraces toward the NE, stands in a rich rolling plain.
  Tanagra, which is not mentioned in the Catalogue of Ships of the Iliad, is said to have played a part in the founding of Heraklea Pontica and of Cumae in Italy. From the 6th c. the city minted silver coins, and was part of the Boiotian League up to 480 B.C. Not far from the city were fought the battles of Tanagra and Oinophyta (457), and Delion (424), where many Tanagrans fell, their names being inscribed on a stele in the museum. From 386 to 374 or 372 it was occupied by a Spartan garrison. After 338 its territory comprised Delion, Hyria, the sanctuary of Aulis, Salganeus on the Euripos, and the Tetrakome (Mykalessos, Harma, Heleon, Pharai). In 145 B.C. Rome granted the city the status of civitas libera et immunis: in the 1st c. A.D. Tanagra and Thespiai were the only prosperous cities in Boiotia.
  The site has never been excavated systematically. Only the Mycenaean necropolis (LH III B), at the place called Gephyra, has been excavated since 1969; a number of fine painted terracotta sarcophagi, now in the Thebes Museum, and pottery have been unearthed. The Classical city is covered over with a thick layer of spoiled earth. The rampart, which forms a rough irregular pentagon, runs round the edge of the hill. At the highest point, to the W, is a tower that overlooks the city and the Asopos valley. In the W wall, which is 1.90 m thick and built of irregular blocks of dark gray local limestone, was a gate that looked toward Chalkis; the N, NE, and SE walls are fortified with a number of towers (roughly one every 30 m) and surround the lower city. To the E was the Athens gate and in the S corner that of Thebes. The SW wall links up with the great tower on the top of the hill. In 1950 sections of the rampart were uncovered, intact, in the upper part of the city when a canal was dug to drain the waters of Lake Iliki to the Marathon reservoir.
  Beside the citadel is a ruined chapel that was built on the foundations of a temple (of Dionysos?). Both the black stone of the foundations and entablature and the crumbly yellowish limestone of the columns and Ionic capitals were used for the building (remains in the museum). A little lower down to the NE is the great theater, without stone seats; here the musical contests of the Sarapieia were held in Hellenistic and Roman times. To the NE, on the next terrace down, Leake discovered the well-built foundations of a large rectangular building, possibly a temple, of local black stone; they are no longer visible. Beyond the N rampart some 20 m farther on are the foundations, still standing, of a small temple "outside the walls". No trace can be seen of the temples, public buildings, or statues, including that of the poetess Korinna, mentioned by Pausanias. Several hundred inscriptions found on the site or nearby are in the museums at Schimatari and Thebes or are set in the walls of buildings (Church of Haghios Thomas).
  A number of necropoleis were uncovered beginning in 1870, notably on the other side of the Lari, in the plain to the NW, and along the side of roads leading out of the city. In these tombs were found the thousands of terracotta figurines for which Tanagra is renowned. From the pre-Hellenic, then the archaic, period, the workshops of Tanagra, Rhitsona, Thebes, and Thespiai turned out statuettes, popular votive offerings that were placed in temples or familiar objects that were laid inside or on top of tombs. In the 7th c. the use of molds increased production and made it possible for these figurines to be sent out throughout the Greek world. The bell-shaped idols of the 8th c. were succeeded by flat idols with modeled, then molded, heads. In the 6th c. appeared replicas of the great religious statues, chariots, riders, everyday subjects. From the end of the 6th c. to ca. 350, these familiar subjects disappeared, giving way chiefly to statuettes inspired by the works of the great sculptors--Kalamis, Phidias, Polykleitos--offered in the sanctuaries. Toward 350-330 the production of Tanagra increased considerably and developed along different lines from the other workshops, possibly under the influence of Praxiteles. The beauty of these figurines, representing women in different attitudes, ephebes, actors, and people from everyday life, accounts for their growing popularity: statuettes and molds were exported in great numbers, especially to the Aeolian city of Myrina. Production slowed down at the beginning of the 2d c. B.C. and ceased in Imperial times.

P. Roesch, ed.
This text is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites, Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Nov 2002 from Perseus Project URL below, which contains bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.


The Catholic Encyclopedia

Tanagra

  A titular see in Hellas, suffragan of Corinth; it was a town of Boeotia, in a fertile plain on the right bank of the Aesopus. It was also called Poemandria and its territory Poemandris.
  In 457 B. C. the Athenians were defeated near Tanagra by the Lacedaemonians, but early in the following year they in turn defeated the Boeotians, thereby becoming masters of Boeotia. The city walls were destroyed. In 426 the Athenians invaded the territory of Tanagra and defeated the Tanagrians and Boeotians. The people of Tanagra were noted for their frugality, loyalty, and hospitality. Their land yielded little wheat, but the best wine in Boeotia, and the town was also noted for its fighting-cocks.
  Under Augustus Tanagra and Thespiae were the chief towns of Boeotia. It had numerous temples, one of Dionysius with a famous statue by Calanus and a remarkable Triton, other temples of Themis, Aphrodite, Apollo, Hermes Criophorus, and Hermes Promaclius. The gymnasium contained a portrait of the poetess, Corinna, who was born at Tanagra and commemorated there by a monument.
  Pliny calls Tanagra a free state. It was still important in the sixth century, but must soon after have been destroyed by Slavic invasions. A station on the railway between Athens and Thebes is now called Tanagra; it connects with the village of Skimatari, about eight miles south of which are the ruins of the ancient town including the acropolis, necropolis etc. Excavations have made the tombs famous for the pretty little terra-cotta figurines which they contain.
  Only one bishop is known, Hesychius, who in 458 signed the letter from the provincial synod to the Emperor Leo.

S. Petrides, ed.
Transcribed by: Douglas J. Potter
This extract is cited June 2003 from The Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent online edition URL below.


Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities

Tanagra

   Now Grimadha or Grimala; a celebrated town of Boeotia, situated on a steep ascent on the left bank of the Asopus, thirteen stadia from Oropus, and 200 stadia from Plataeae, in the district Tanagraea, which was also called Poemandris. Tanagra was supposed to be the same town as the Homeric Graea. Being near the frontiers of Attica, it was frequently exposed to the attacks of the Athenians; and near it the Athenians sustained a celebrated defeat, B.C. 457. Here was a temple to Dionysus, and minor temples erected to Themis, Aphrodite, Hermes Criophorus, and Hermes Promachus. Recent excavations at Tanagra have discovered the line of the walls, the site of many of the towers, and of the theatre. In 1873 the Necropolis was explored and yielded many terra-cotta statuettes and "figurines".

This text is cited Oct 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Perseus Project

Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)

Tanagra

  Eth. Tanagraios: the territory Tanagraia, Paus. ix. 22. § 1, and Tanagraike or Tanagrike, Strab. ix. p. 404: Adj. Tanagrikos: Grimadha or Grimala), a town of Boeotia, situated upon the left bank of the Asopus, in a fertile plain, at the distance of 130 stadia from Oropus and 200 from Plataeae (Dicaearch. Stat. Gr. pp. 12, 14, ed. Hudson). Several ancient writers identified Tanagra with the Homeric Graea (Graia. Hom. Il. ii. 498; Lycophr. 644); but others supposed them to be distinct places, and Aristotle regarded Oropus as the ancient Graea. (Steph. B. s. v. Tanagra; Strab. ix. p. 404; Paus. ix. 20. § 2.) It is possible, as Leake has remarked, that Tanagra, sometimes written Tanagraea, may be connected with the ancient name Graea, Tana, being an Aeolic suffix, and that the modern name Grimadhla or Grimala may retain traces of the Homeric name. Tanagra was also called Poemandria, and its territory Poemandris, from the fertile meadows which surrounded the city. (Steph. B. s. v.; Strab. ix. p. 404.) The most ancient inhabitants of Tanagra are said to have been the Gephyraei, who came from Phoenicia with Cadmus, and from thence emigrated to Athens. (Herod. v. 57; Strab. ix. p. 404). From its vicinity to Attica the territory of Tanagra was the scene of more than one battle. In B.C. 457 the Lacedaemonians on their return from an expedition to Doris, took up a position at Tanagra, near the borders of Attica, with the view of assisting the oligarchical party at Athens to overthrow the democracy. The Athenians, with a thousand Argeians and some Thessalian horse, crossed Mount Parnes and advanced, against the Lacedaemonians. Both sides fought with great bravery; but the Lacedaemonians gained the victory, chiefly through the treacherous desertion of the Thessalians in the very heat of the engagement. (Thuc. i. 107, 108; Diod. xi. 80.) At the begining of the following year (B.C. 456), and only sixty-two days after their defeat at Tanagra, the Athenians under Myronides again invaded Boeotia, and gained at Oenophyta, in the territory of Tanagra, a brilliant and decisive victory over the Boeotians, which made them masters of the whole country. The walls of Tanagra were now razed to the ground. (Thuc. i. 108; Diod. xi. 81, 82.) In B.C. 426 the Athenians made an incursion into the territory of Tanagra, and on their return defeated the Tanagraeans and Boeotians. (Thuc. iii. 91.) Dicaearchus, who visited Tanagra in the time of Cassander, says that the city stands on a rugged and lofty height, and has a white chalky appearance. The houses are adorned with handsome porticoes and encaustic paintings. The surrounding country does not grow much. corn, but produces the best wine in Boeotia. Dicaearchus adds that the inhabitants are wealthy but frugal, being for the most part landholders, not manufacturers; and he praises them for their justice, good faith, and hospitality. In the time of Augustus, Tanagra and Thespiae were the two most prosperous cities in Boeotia. (Strab. ix. p. 403.) Tanagra is called by Pliny (iv. 7. s. 12) a free state; it is mentioned by Ptolemy (iii. 15. § 20); and it continued to flourish in the sixth century. (Hierocl. p. 645.) Its public buildings are described at some length by Pausanias (ix. 20. § 3, seq.). The principal temple was that of Dionysus, which contained a celebrated statue of Parian marble, by Calamis, and a remarkable Triton. Near it were temples of Themis, Aphrodite and Apollo, and two of Hermes, in one of which he was worshipped as Criophorus, and in the other as Promachus. Near the latter was the theatre, and probably at no great distance the gymnasium, which contained a picture of Corinna, who was a native of Tanagra. There was also a monument of this poetess in a conspicuous part of the city. Pausanias remarks as a peculiarity in Tanagra, that all their sacred buildings were placed by themselves, apart from the houses of the town (ix. 22. § 2.) He likewise notices (ix. 22. § 4) that Tanagra was famous for its breed of fighting-cocks, a circumstance which is mentioned by other writers. (Varr. de Re Rust. iii. 9. § 6; Hesych. s. v. Koloiphrux; Suidas, s. v. Tanagraioi alektoriskoi.) Tanagra possessed a considerable territory; and Strabo (ix. p. 405) mentions four villages belonging to it, Eleon or Heleon, Harma, Mycalessus, and Pharae. (Pherae, Plin. iv. 7. s. 12).
  The ruins of Tanagra are situated at an uninhabited spot, called Grimadha or Grimala, situated 3 miles south of the village of Skimatari. The site is a large bill nearly circular, rising from the north bank of the Asopus. The upper part of the site is rocky and abrupt, looking down upon the town beneath; and it was probably upon this upper height that the sacred edifices stood apart from the other buildings of the town. The walls of the city which embraced a circuit of about two miles, may still be traced, but they are a mere heap of ruins. About 100 yards below the height already described are the remains of the theatre, hollowed out of the slope. On the terrace below the theatre to the NE. are the foundations of a public building, formed of marble of a very dark colour with a green cast. The ground is thickly strewn in every direction with remains of earthenware, betokening the existence of a numerous population in former times.

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited June 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


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