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Ancient Gortyn is one of the most important Arcadian cities of the ancient world.

The precise dates of its establishment, prosperity and decline are not known, as archaeological evidence has not been sufficient to identify them. However, it is generally accepted that the city reached its peak in the 4th century BC. and must have been destroyed around the 12th century.

The archaeological site is located outside the village of Attilochos of Mountain Arcadia. Remains that have come to light include parts of the old fortification, ruins of houses and public buildings, the sanctuary of Asclepius, and baths, apparently related to the Asclepius, of a healing nature. The baths are one of the most important in the ancient world that have been discovered; they include a special heating system, considered by the researchers to be an Arcadian patent. The city appears to be related to the homonymous ancient city located in the plain of Mesara, near in Heraklion Crete. The Cretan Gortyn was probably created by the inhabitants of Arcadia.

Ancient Gortyn was founded, according to legend, by Gorty, brother of Agamedes, son of Stymfilos and great-grandfather of King Arcada, a native of the Lycaonids. The city was named after him, as was the river Lucius, which in one part of it - from Gortyn to its contribution to Alfeus - is called Gortynios. It was one of the most important cities of Arcadia in antiquity and, according to the few - admittedly - findings, one of the oldest.

The town is located next to the Lucius River, at an altitude of about 350 meters, just outside the village of Atsilochos of Mountain Arcadia. It was one of the stations on the route followed by the Spartan athletes going to the Olympics, as the ancient road Olympia - Megalopolis - Mycenae - Isthmus - Athens was passing by.

The city was guarded by two strong citadels, close to each other, at an altitude of about 480 m. It included several sacred and public buildings, burial grounds, a sanctuary of Asclepius and two large thermal baths, which were an integral part of it. worship of this deity. The baths have been in operation since the 2nd century BC. and included a special heating system, which was considered by the researchers to be an Arcadian patent. There was even a temple of Asclepius there, with the worshipful statue of the god who had made the famous sculptor from Paros, Skopje. This temple was so famous, according to Pausanias, that Alexander the Great visited it in 335 BC, who offered a sacrifice to the god and dedicated his spear and chest.

The exact date of the founding of ancient Gortyn is not known, mainly due to the lack of relevant written testimonies and findings. However, there are findings dating from the Late Helladic (1600-1100 BC) to the Geometric Era (11th-8th century BC), thus testifying to its antiquity. The most important period of its prosperity dates back to the Classical and Hellenistic times, specifically in the 4th century BC. About a century later, its decline appears to have taken place after the founding of the Great City in 368 BC, when Gortys was forced, along with other neighboring cities, to settle with it, losing its independence. As a result, much of its population moved to the new city. The city seems to have been permanently destroyed in the 12th century AD by the Goths in Byzantine times.

During its heyday, however, Gortyn was a vibrant city, active in events in the wider area throughout its history.


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