Sparta was one of several city states that arose in Greece during the Classical period (others include Athens, Corinth, and Thebes). The original word 'polis' means 'citizen state', which doesn't really fit Sparta, which was a collection of small villages spread out over a large rural hinterland. An acropolis, with a theater, stoa and agora, along with a temple to Athena, and a sanctuary of Artemis, were built on one of the knolls of the site, located in the Eurotas valley, some 50 kilometers from the Aegean.
Sparta's primary role in Herodotus
was as the winner of the Peloponnesian War (432-404 BC), after which it attempted to rule over all of Greece; but it is unclear whether the Sparta of Herodotus has a one-to-one correlation with the archaeological site, which has been explored since the late 19th century by the American School, the British School, and most recently, by the Greek Service.
This glossary entry is part of the Dictionary of Archaeology
Also Known As: Lacdaemonia