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FIRST PAGE   History / Culture   Prehistory - Antiquity

In the foothills of the mountain massifs- on the side of the Thessalian plain- but also between them, various branches of the Pineios river flow. The Pineios has always constituted the base of all elements that are related to the history, the culture, the economy and the development of a person’s life in Thessaly. This is also the reason that most of the early residues of human presence here, have always been found near the banks of this river.

The history of people’s existence in the region of Kalabaka- Pyli, with the current data, begins in the Middle Paleolithic season, the final limits of which are placed 100.000 years from today. Fossils of this era have been found during the last ten years in the cave of Theopetra.

Actually the discoveries of this cave are, until now, the older excavated residues of human presence in the entire Thessaly, the history of which is believed to have began in the Neolithic season, approximately 6.500 years B.C . The carbons that have been dated up to today from this cave exceed 40.000 years, while it is possible for them to reach in the future 100.000 years in the future, since old discoveries continue to come out. The cave continued to be inhabited  until 3.000 B.C, when already in the plain of Thessaly outdoor settlements had already been developed, that are usually known as  ”magoules”.

The climate begins to improve 16.000 years ago and was completed at around 8.000 B.C, when the Paleolithic Age ends. From this last stage (14.000 B.C.) we also have a residue of a human skeleton  in this cave, probably from a burial of  the oldest until now known Thessalian. It belongs to the current human type, but with archaic characteristics.

One more skeleton, from a young woman this time, emanates from the transient stage between Paleolithic and Neolithic season in Thessaly, the Mesolithic, was found in regular burial and anemia was  likely to be cause of death , according to the students. The Paleolithic people accumulated knowledge for thousands of years – with climax the achievement of baking the clay that ensured them waterproof containers of maintenance and the preparation of food-led to the creation of Neolithic culture, that was greatly developed in the Thessalian space.

The settlements are increasing as someone goes Eastern and southern of the Prefecture of Trikala, where the big Thessalian plain develops.  Life in the end of this season has acquired many characteristics from an organized rural economy, that were maintained til the middle of our century: the houses are built with timbers and canes strengthened with greasing of a fat layer of clay, while the flooring is also limed .The roof is also wooden, with a greasing of clay.

By the end of Neolithic season (after 4.000 B.C), the movement of the center of growth of the Neolithic world towards the sea was observed (East Thessaly), which they took advantage. This is the reason that from the period of the Bronze age that follows, there are few discoveries from the cavern of Theopetra. The highlight of Mycenaean world is marked in the end of Bronze Age and has as an epicenter the Eastern coasts of Thessaly (Iolkos-Peukakia), while some other hundred smaller centers and cities are developed this season throughout Thessaly. On the contrary, the north-western region of the Thessalian plain, presents few places with Mycenaean discoveries. This image is also partly due to defective archaeological research of the region, regarding to this period. It is most likely, however, that the coastal Mycenaean cities of Iolkos and Peykakia in Volos could more easily approach by sea the center of the Mycenaean culture, Mycenaes, from which they likely depended on . Whether the two Thessalian Mycenaean centers that were mentioned before enacted also some type of power in the interior of Thessaly, is something that has not been proved up to now.

The passage towards the classic years was smooth. Thessaly, remoted from the big urban centers, maintained always a local character in her culture, contributing however decisively with her force in wars sometimes in favor of the Athenians, sometimes in favor of the Spartans and sometimes on the side of the Macedonians, later. The character of the cities in ancient Thessaly was rather rural,  as today. Larisa was always the sovereign force, however a lot of smaller cities bloomed and almost all of them had their own fortresses castles. The need for fortification was dictated , on the one hand by the existence of enemies and on the other hand by the fear of attitudes on behalf of the crowd of poor manual workers, since Thessaly was controlled by a minimal aristocracy of landowners, that checked the total of the production, while nor the intermediate order participated in public affairs for many years.

From the old times Thessaly was divided in four parts (tetrarch’s) that were the following: Pelasgiotis, Ifthiotis, Thessaliotis and Estiaiotis or Istiaiotis. The last one included the current prefecture of Trikala approximately and had as capital, Trikki. It was previously said that Trikki was named Doris and was inhabited by Dorians. The name Estiaiotis/Istiaiotis is said that originates from the residents of Istiaias of Euvoia, that migrated there when Perraiboi occupied their homeland.

The most important city of the region (besides Trikki) appears to be Aiginio ,near current Kalabaka, even if it’s ruins still haven’t been identified.

This important place, near the sources of Pineios River and in the passage from Macedonia to Thessaly on the one hand and from Epirus to Thessaly on the other hand, was very natural to contribute to the creation of an important city.

As more likely places, as reported in the philological sources, are the localities <> westwards Kalabaka and <> in the north of the village Panagia. There isn’t a well known castle in the region that would belong to Aiginio, however in Tragopetra, that is encompassed by rocks, the residues of a tower and wallsare  maintained. It was found at the crossroad from Epirus through Zygos and from Macedonia through Chasion. However ,it was located somehow out-lying, its conquest was not essential in order to achieve the passage to Thessaly.

From 191 until 167 B.C. Aiginio belonged to Macedonia. Then it was condemned by the Romans in pillage because it insisted on maintaining friendly bonds with Perseus of Macedon. Since then it belongs to Thessaly. Two more cities were still developed in the Eastern foothills of Koziaka, Faloria and Pialia.

Between the current village Pialia and Xylopariko, the ancient city Pialiawas located. Its ruins are saved in the locality ‘’Palaiokastro’’ in altitude 400m.  above the plain. The wall was dated in the 4th B.C. century. In 1902 excavations took place with important discoveries (currencies-signs).Pialia is also reported as the homeland of Asklipios or as his pharmacy where he processed the herbs that were collected in Koziaka.

In the same region, near the community of Prodromos, ruins of an ancient castle are saved, while in Prinossix marble dolphins have been found by smugglers dedicated to Neptune, that is kept in the Archeological Museum of Larissa and probably they aren’t the only discoveries that have fallen into the hands of smugglers.

A line of smaller cities and castles strengthened the passages from Macedonia and Epirus: such castles are saved in Gerakari, 5km southern of the village, where the height of the walls in a lot of points exceeds the 3m. A fortress there checked the passage coming from the region of Elassona. Ruins of ancient castles in Agiofyllo as well as in Asprokklisia- with ruins of the city-certainly imply the control of northern borders to western Macedonia.

An important city, Oxyneia, was found near these two castles of the region of Chasia. Built near river Ionas (from the leader of Jonah’s) - current Moyrgkani-it  had a strategic place and its ruins, as well as its castle, are recognized in the settlement of Xirokampos of the current community Oxyneia.

Still more westwards, probably in the limits of the current community Malakasi, the city Alalkomenai  is reported. With the same name a city in Viotia alsoexisted. From here the passage was checkedcertainly from and to Epirus, in the way that is also in use today. Southernly, in the region of the current community Kastania the ruins of an ancient settlement that are saved, have not been identified.

Moving more southernly in the western region of Koziaka above the valley where today monk communities of Saint Prokopioshave been developed, the city Poitneion or Potnaionis reported. Ruins of an ancient castleare saved. Also, an embossed sepulchral with the representation of a warrior (Echenikos)that was killed in a battle in the 4th centurywas found.  This column, that for years was located in the grounds of the church, was stolen during the past few years and sold in a gallery in Germany. The Artistic that bought it had the sensitivity of returning it to the Greek state, when he learned that it was stolen. Today it is protected in the Archeological Museum of Larissa.

In the same region near Stoyrnareika, the ruins of an ancient castle exist. Eastenly in the other strategic place of the passage from Thessaly to Epirus by the mountainous volumes of Argithea, a strong castle, the Atheneum, in altitude 1356m., above the Monastery of Gkoyras, controlled the passages. It is said that it took its name from the temple of Goddess Athena that existed in the fortress. This castle was conquered in 189 B.C. by the king of Macedonia Phillip E’, when he campaigned against the Athamanians. In 46 B.C it was destroyed by Julius Caesar. It is maintained in a relatively good situation. In the place of the Byzantine Porta-Panagia probably an ancient temple existed that was also dedicated to Athena.

The traditional institution of oligarchic dynasty did not allow the Thessalian cities to develop the intense urban life that we know from the other cities of southern Greece. Corporate organizations existed however- according to the signs- c e.g. the public of herdsmen. In Atraga, and certainly in other big cities, there were trials for affairs regarding differences of boarders, not only near but also in the wider administrative region. The existence of at least one famous doctor is reported also in Atraga, something that allows us to make proportional reductions for the other cities.

The Thessalian population never lived in democratic arrangement, equivalent with the one  that prevailed in the other urban centers of Greece. In certain Thessalian cities a Parliament functioned, as  a simple survival of the known political institution of the Homeric era, since its duties were limited to what  concerned the religious and national traditions of the residents. In certain, however,  cities it appears that the parliament still constituted an important political factor, as in ancient Trikki, where a  Roman general addresses his letter to ‘’the leaders and the Parliament’’

In the beginnings of 5th B.C. century a Thessalian Monetary Union was created, that included almost all the important cities of Thessaly- also Trikki- and all the dependent cities. Up to the end of 4th B.C. century, when most cities had cut their own bronze currencies, argent drachmas were circulated only in Larissa, which was the most important economic centre of Thessaly.

Towards 360 B.C. the public of Thessalians  was founded, that included all cities of Thessaly, expect for Feron that was an independent state. Later the Thessalians, via noble Aleyadon of Larissa, asked the help of the Macedonians in order to be exempted  from the pressure of Tyrannida of Ferres. The young by then king Philippe B’  did not lose the opportunity to help them, envisioning that by this way the road towards the expansion of the Macedonian sovereignty would be open, not only in Thessaly but also in entire Greece.

In 353 B.C. Philippe, the head of all military forces of the Public of Thessalians, faced Fokeis that had come in assistance of their Ferraion allies and beat them. Immediately afterwards he conquered all the Thessalian cities they had allied with Fokeis, among which was also Trikki. From now on the relations of the Thessalians with Philippe became so tight, that it is considered that they entrusted him a lot more despite their fellow-citizens. Philippe was acclaimed commander in chief of  all the military forces of the Thessalian public.

The Macedonian sovereignty in the Thessalian cities became exceptionally oppressive, however their repeated revolts were drowned in  blood. The absolute domination of the Macedonians in Thessaly lasted up to 197 B.C., therefore the victory of Romans in ‘’Kynos Kefales’’ of Pelasgiotidas created a new situation and the Thessalians were from now on in the disposal of the Roman generals and supremes. A new public of Thessalians was founded by the general Flaminio, with basic part the ‘’Congress’’ which was composed of representatives of various Thessalian cities. In 168 B.C. the Romans conquered Trikki.

Under the Roman sovereignty Thessaly lived days of big power , mainly during the 2nd B.C century. During the imperial period, when the civilian wars of the Romans began, the capital of  Larissa gives the picture of a provincial Roman city while  things deteriorated for the smaller cities of Thessaly.

Thus the Thessalian cities declined in the beginning of the Byzantine era that came after the Roman sovereignty in the Eastern department of the empire.


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