ANCIENT ALEA

Remaining walls of ancient AleaT he ancient city of Alea was located at the base of a small mountain known either as Goula or Tapia Hill, only 2 kilometers from the present day village of Alea. According to mythology, the ancient city was built by Aleos, son of Apheidas. Apheidas' father, Arcados, was the king of Alea. Aleos himself had 4 children (3 sons and one daughter); Likourgos, Ampheidamas, Kipheas and Agni.

The city had several significant temples such as the ones dedicated to Artemis of Ephesos, and Athena of Alea. Another temple was dedicated to Dionyssos for whom ceremonies, known as Skieria, were held. According to the prophecy of the Oracle of Delphi, women were victimized (whippings and beatings) during these ceremonies.

The majority of Aleas' inhabitants emigrated to Megali Polis (now called Megalopolis ), which founded by Epameinondas. The small town became a member of the Achaian Confederacy ( Achaiki Sympolitia ).

Like most ancient Greek cities, Alea had its own coinage. Most of these coins portrayed Artemis or Athena on one side, and an arc with the epigram AL or ALEA on the other. More recent coins include the same illustrations and the epigram ACHAION ALEATON.

The city's main diety, Athena, was worshipped in Alea, Tegea and in Mantinea. In Laconia there was even a statue dedicated to Athena of Alea. She was a Peloponnessian diety who was worshipped as the Godess of Medicine. Thus, the temple dedicated to her was also dedicated to Health (Ygia.).

The ruins of the ancient site are preserved on the plain near the present village of Alea along with the city's Acropolis and Goula walls. Over the centuries, successive layers of sedement formed, and these now reach heights of 3-6 meters above ground level. This was partly caused by debris that descended from the area's surrounding torrents and waterfalls. Due to this fact, much of the ancient site which was approximately 800 meters in length and 350 meters in width has been covered by many layers of earth. However, many ancient ruins are well preserved around the area of Kinouria in particular.

During the winter months, the plain where the ancient city was located is transformed into a large lake measuring approximately 3 kilometers in length and 1 kilometer in width. This is caused by the cataracts that surround the site and has gradually destroyed much of the vegetation on the mountains of the territory around Alea. The water of the lake lasts for about 1 month every winter and is then gradually absorbed into a cesspool which is located at the foot of Mavrovounio Mountain.

The acropolis and the walls of the ancient city of Alea are located north of the site of Goula Hill, at a height of one hundred-and-fifty meters over the plain. The walls of the Acropolis of the peak of Goula Hill are well preserved. The north western wall, which extends from the Acropolis to the plain, has a length of about 4 hundred meters, while the western wall extends 550 meters. A peculiar aspect about the walls design is its square towers that were constructed every 30 meters or so.

Towards the plain, much of the wall eroded, particularly at the foot of the hill. However, some portions in this area are well preserved and are 3-4 meters in height and 3 meters in width. The ancient city also had a fortification wall which extended from the Acropolis to the foot of Goula Hill, and then continued on all the way until the plain, surrounding Alea. No portions of wall have survived on the plain.

Inside the Acropolis, there are various piles of stones and foundations of buildings. Ruins of an aqueduct are also evident. Furthermore, at Anemomylos on the Goupata mountain near Alea, there are ruins of a temple or altar dedicated to Dionyssos, for whom Skieria were held. These ruins are situated west of the present day village of Alea at a distance of 2.5 km, and at an altitude of over 1400 m above sea level.

The foundations of the temple are well preserved as well as scattered piles of large polygonal stones. Within a small distance of the temple there are many more foundations of small buildings. There is even a large aqueduct 150 meters from the temple that is 10 meters deep and is still well-maintained.

More information on the life and civilization of ancient Alea is not available. Hopefully, future archeological expeditions will uncover more information about the city.

One last interesting aspect of the present village of Alea is a cave called Snow Hall that is located 150 meters northwest of the village. Its entrance measures 0.75 by 0.90 meters while the cave itself is 20 meters deep. The cave's walls are a very rich white color that is caused by an icicle formation. Despite this, the cave has not as yet been developed into a major tourist attraction but remains a favored spot for the area's inhabitants.

 

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