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Central Places and Major Roads in the Peloponnese

  • G.D.R. Sanders and I.K. Whitbread


The technique of Graph Theory is described and applied to the ancient road system of the Peloponnese, using the network described in the Peutinger Table, and compared with George Gennadius' map of 1822. The result demonstrates the relative importance of centres in the Peloponnese during the Roman period, and the modification to the pattern of road usage resulting from sea communications. Details of a computer programme for the necessary calculations are given in an appendix.



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1 G. Gennadius, Map of the Balkan Peninsula 1822; Leake, W.M., Travels in the Morea I 1830, Frontice piece; Expedition Scientifique de la Morée Paris 1834; Pelet, General, Carte de la Morée, Paris 1832.

2 Haggett, P., Cliff, A.D. and Frey, A., Locational Analysis in Human Geography, Bristol, 1977, provide a useful introduction to Graph Theory and extensive basic bibliography.

3 Garrison, W.L., ‘Connectivity of the Interstate Highway System’, Papers and proceedings of the Regional Science Association, 6 (1960) 121137.

4 Reed, W.E., ‘Indirect Connectivity and Hierarchies of Urban DominanceAnnals of the Association of American Geographers, 60 (1970) 770–85.

5 Jones, G.A. et al. , ‘Some Discrete Distributions for Graphs with Applications to Regional Transport NetworksGeographiska Annaler 52 (1970) 1421.

6 Haggett, et al. op. cit. 315.

7 Kansky, K.J., ‘Structure of Transport Networks: Relationships between Network Geometry and Regional Characteristics’, University of Chicago, Department of Geography, Research Papers 84 (1963) 2829.

8 Ibid. 21–23.

9 Hu, T.C., Integer Planning and Network Flows. Reading, Mass. 1969 p. 157. For further reading see Potts, R.B. and Oliver, R.M., Flows in Transportation Networks, New York 1972 p. 49ff.

10 T.C. Hu, op. cit. 155.

11 For theories of distance-decay rates and centrality see von Thünen, J.H., Der Isolierte Staat in Beziehung auf Landwirtschaft und Nationalökonomie Hamburg (1826) and Christaller, W.Die zentralen Orte in Süddeutschland: Eine ökonomisch-geographische Untersuchung über die Gesetzmässigkeit der Verbreitung und Entwicklung der Siedlungen mit städtischen Funktionen, Jena (1933). Note how accessibility declines with distance from the central point and how points 7, 12, 20, 24, 28 and 31, each two links from node 16, exert their own pull whereas 3, 6, 10, 19, 23 and 27, also two links from node 16, have a lower rank.

12 Stahl, W.H., ‘By their Maps you shall Know themArchaeology 8 (1955) 152–3.

13 Jones, A.H.M., The Later Roman Empire II Oxford (1964) 830834.

14 Miller, K., Itineraria Romana, Stuttgart (1916) 559571.

15 Pritchett, W.K., Studies in Ancient Topography, III Roads pp. 97288.

16 Gell, W., Itinerary of the Morea London 1817, 234 for Mistra to Kalamata; idem. 65–6 for Thuria to Kalamata, and Leake, W.M., Travels in the Morea London (1830) 366–7 for Thuria to Mavromati.

17 Gell, op. cit. 60–1, 74–6, 213–20.

18 Pritchett, W.K., Studies in Ancient Greek Topography V Los Angeles 1985, 6168 makes the case for the existence of this route from Sparta to the Stenyklaros plain.

19 Leake, op. cit. I 194–5.

20 Pritchett, III 237–288.

21 Paus. VIII.27.4.

22 Plut. Kleo. 25, Paus. VIII.27.16.

23 Strabo 8.8.1, 16.1.5.

24 For a brief history see Gardner, E.A. et al. , Excavations at Megalopolis, London 1892, 15.

25 Paus. 8.45–54.

26 Bon, A.La Morée Franque Paris (1969) 522–25.

27 Williams, C.K., ‘The Refounding of Corinth: Some Religious Attitudes’ in Macready, S. and Thompson, F.H., eds. Roman Architecture in the Greek World, London, 1987 2637. The politea of Corinth was ager publicus and consequently was worked. The working population and overseers evidently lived in Corinth.

28 Petsas, F. ‘Patrai’ in Stillwell, R. ed. The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites, New Jersey 1976 861–2.

29 Stahl, op. cit. 153–5. Levi, A.C. and Treil, B.An Ancient Tourist MapArchaeology 17 (1964) 227–31 however, consider that the vignettes show facilities available to travellers and were not used to identify important cities.

30 G.D.R. and J.M. Sanders, ‘George Finlay in Laconia and Arcadia’ Philolakon forthcoming.

31 Pritchett, III, 54–101 traces the ancient road from Argos to Hysiae and from Tegea to Hysiae. Except for minor details, it follows the same route as that taken by Leake and others.

32 K. Miller, op. cit. LXVII–III.

33 Ibid. 569, fig. 182; Pritchett, Ancient Topography III 257–8.

34 Father of the bibliophile after whom the Athenian library was named.

35 Leake, op. cit. III p.7.

36 Pouqueville, F.C., Travels in the Morea, Albania and Other Parts of the Ottoman Empire London (1813) 118.

37 Idem.Voyage V (1826) 277.

38 Idem.Travels 462–3.

39 Expedition Scientifique de la Morée, Paris 1834.

40 Finlay, G., A History of Greece VI 356–70, 398–400.

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Central Places and Major Roads in the Peloponnese

  • G.D.R. Sanders and I.K. Whitbread


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