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Region on the north-east of the Peloponnese, between the Corinthian Gulf and the Chelmos and Panachaikon mountains. Historically a federation of small territories (Paus. 7).

Achaea was settled from the palaeolithic period. During the late bronze age, numerous graves plus settlements (e.g. Aegira and Katarraktis) and the fortification of Teichos Dymaion indicate extensive activity (see ahhiyawa). Geometric settlement has been found along the coast (including an 8th.-cent. temple at Aegira) and inland (the Pharae valley). Achaeans may have joined the Ionian migration; Achaean colonies include Sybaris (720 bce), Croton (708), Metapontum, Caulonia (all in Italy) and Scione (in Chalcidice). See colonization, greek.

According to Herodotus (1. 145), Achaea was divided into 12 merides each containing seven or eight dēmoi (cf. Polyb. 2. 41. 7). These comprise Pellene (the seat of games noted by Pindar), Helice, Bura, Aegira, Aegae, Aegium, Rhypes, Patrae, Pharae, Olenus, Dyme, and Tritaea. The regional shrine of PoseidonHeliconius was situated at Helice until the city was destroyed (along with Bura) by an earthquake in 373. Fourth-cent. foundations include Cerynia and Leontium.

There is scant evidence for the region's early political organization, although some form of federation may have existed by the 5th cent. In 468 Cerynia admitted refugees from the Argive sack of Mycenae. Achaea remained neutral in the Persian Wars and the extent of her involvement in the Peloponnesian War is unclear. According to Thucydides (1. 115, 4. 21), the Achaeans may have allied with the Athenians in the early 450s only to be ‘given up’ 30 years later. Pellene acted independently in warring with Sicyon during the 7th/6th cent., and joining the Peloponnesian League. In 417 Sparta intervened in the Achaean cities to ensure more favourable government, and in 367 oligarchs are recorded as treating with Epaminondas after the Theban alliance's expedition against Achaea. Achaeans were among the 10,000 who fought with Cyrus (2). The region retained a reputation for justice and political stability, supplying arbitrators, for example between Thebes and Sparta in 371. See arbitration, greek.

See achaean confederacy for Achaea's Hellenistic history. It fell under Roman rule in 146 bce; from 27 bce it was in the province of Achaia. Dyme and Patrae became Roman colonies.


W. Alzinger, Klio, Beiträge zur alten Geschichte 1985, 394–426.Find this resource:

    A. Papadopoulos, Mycenaean Achaea (1979).Find this resource:

      J. K. Anderson, Annual of the British School at Athens 1954, 72–92.Find this resource:

        A. D. Rizakis, Paysages d’Achaie 1 (1992), 2 (2000). A. D. Rizakis (ed.), Achaia und Elis in der Antike (1991). A. D. Rizakis, Achaïe 1–3 (1995–2008).

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