In the plain just to the W of the modern Dhomoko-Pharsala highway is a large, oval, flat-topped mound, called Tapsi. This is surrounded on the top by a wall of polygonal masonry. In 1965-66 excavations on the mound uncovered foundations of 4th c. B.C. houses on its flat top and on the W and S slopes. A section of the circuit wall was excavated, which proved to be not just the archaic wall, but the Classical as well. Some remains of Classical houses were also discovered on the top of the mound, which had been occupied since at least the Bronze Age. East of the highway, 400 m E of the mound, can be seen another wall circuit preserved to several courses high. This wall has a circumference of ca. 2 km and encloses a hill with two peaks and a hollow between resembling a theater facing the plain on the N. The wall is double-faced, built of well-cut, thick; rectangular and trapezoidal blocks with rough faces, laid in fairly regular courses in the towers, more irregularly or in step fashion elsewhere. The wall is some 2 m thick. Twenty projecting square towers have been preserved along it. There are three gates with complex entrances flanked by towers preserved on the SW, S, and SE sides. The exterior face of the wall is pierced by drain channels. Just to the N of the SE gate can be seen a long section of a cross wall running E-W which cut off the highest, E, peak from the rest of the enclosure. The wall was disturbed by an earthquake in 1955, but was restored.
The most interesting discovery of 1965-66 was on the W side of a small hill in the modern town, and outside the ancient city walls. This was the rough stone foundation of a long, rectangular stoa-like building, 6 x 30 m, of the 4th c. B.C., oriented E-W. At the W end it overlay some older building (s), perhaps of the late 6th or early 5th c. A large number of objects were found, now in the Volo Museum, which identified this as a Shrine of Demeter. A number of terracotta figurines were discovered, all apparently earlier than the “stoa,” some being of the 6th c. B.C. A small bronze vase and an archaic (7th c.) bronze figurine of a deer (?) came from the sanctuary area, among other bronze items such as rings and pins.
It appears that the acropolis of the archaic and Classical city was the mound Tapsi, and that the city of that period was located on the slopes of the mound, chiefly on the S side. The Shrine of Demeter (the first discovered for certain in Thessaly), which flourished from the 6th to at least the 2d c. B.C., was located on a low hill to the SE of the mound, near the road. The walls on the hill to the E of the road may date from the early 3d c. B.C. (as Stählin surmised) or somewhat earlier. Hellenistic sherds have been found within this circuit, but no remains of the city of that period.
W. M. Leake, Nor. Gr. (1835) I 455, 459; F. Stählin, Das hellenische Thessalien (1924) 157-58PI; G. Daux and P. de la Coste-Messelières, “De Malide en Thessalie,” BCH 48 (1924) 355-59MPI; E. Kirsten, RE (1957) s.v. Proerna 2; D. Theocharis, Deltion 19 (1964) chron. 2631; 20 (1965) chron. 318fI; 21 (1966) chron. 249-52PI.
T. S. MAC KAY
The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites. Stillwell, Richard. MacDonald, William L. McAlister, Marian Holland. Princeton, N.J. Princeton University Press. 1976.
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