|Location||Babadere, Çanakkale Province, Turkey|
|Periods||Early Bronze Age to Hellenistic period|
Larisa (Ancient Greek: Λάρισα Larisa) was an ancient Greek city in the south-west of the Troad region of Anatolia. Its surrounding territory was known in Greek as the Λαρισαῖα (Larisaia). It has been located on a small rise by the coast now known as Limantepe, about 3.5 km from the village of Kösedere to the north-east and 3 km from the village of Babadere to the east, in the Ayvacık district of Çanakkale province, Turkey. As with other Greek toponyms containing the consonantal string -ss-, spellings that drop one 's' exist alongside those that retain both in the ancient literary sources. Larisa in the Troad should not be confused with 'Aeolian' Larisa, near Menemen, or with 'Ionian' Larisa in İzmir province.
Ceramic finds of Early Bronze Age III (c. 2700 - c. 2200 BC) and Troy VI material suggest that Limantepe had been occupied since the mid-3rd millennium BC by a pre-Greek population. The Augustan geographer Strabo considered the toponym 'Laris(s)a' to be Pelasgian, and it was understood by lexicographers in Antiquity to mean 'citadel'. The specific attribution to the little understood Pelasgians should be treated with caution, as scholars now generally consider this a catch-all term used by Greeks to refer to the non-Greek peoples whom they knew had previously inhabited Asia Minor, but understood little about. Nevertheless, modern philologists do consider the consonantal string -ss- to be pre-Greek, and possibly Luwian, in origin, and so it is quite possible that the name Larisa represents a pre-Greek survival.
Archaic and Classical
We hear nothing about Larisa in the Archaic Greek period from our literary sources, but ceramic finds at Limantepe indicate Greek occupation from the late 8th century BC. In 427 BC Larisa was one of the so-called Actaean cities that Athens took from Mytilene following the end of the Mytilenean revolt, and it appears in the Athenian tribute assessments in 425/424 BC and 422/421 BC. In 425/424 BC it had an assessment of 3 talents, a relatively high figure compared to other cities in the Troad. As a former member of the Mytilenaean peraia, it is thought that the Greeks who originally settled Larisa were from Mytilene, as was the case with the other Actaean cities. A corrupt passage of Strabo used to be understood as instead supporting the idea that Larisa and its neighbour to the north Kolonai belonged to the peraia of the island of Tenedos, but scholars now prefer to restore Lesbos in the lacuna. Larisa was forcibly re-incorporated into the Persian Empire in 399 BC before being freed once more by the Spartan Dercylidas in 398 BC.
The relatively high Athenian tribute assessment for Larisa of 3 talents suggests that during the Classical period it was a comparatively wealthy settlement. It lay in a large fertile plain between the Acheloos river to the north and the Satnioeis river to the south that would have provided good farmland. In addition, it had access in Classical Antiquity to an excellent harbour. Its border to the south with Hamaxitus was marked by the Satnioeis river (modern Tuzla Çay), and for a period in the late 4th century BC it may have controlled the lucrative salt pans at Tragasai, which, though north of the Satnioeis, were in general controlled by Hamaxitus. Beyond the Acheloos lay the territory of Kolonai, which appears to have been in some sort of semi-dependent relationship with Larisa, further increasing the city's revenues.
Hellenistic and Roman
The history of Larisa in the Hellenistic period is extremely obscure. It has generally been thought that Larisa lost its political independence in a synoecism with Antigoneia Troas c. 310 BC. However, the eminent French epigrapher Louis Robert consistently challenged this view, arguing that Larisa and Hamaxitus remained independent until after the Treaty of Apamea. Moreover, he proposed on the basis of a legend on a coin found at Limantepe (the site of Larisa) that for a period in the 3rd century BC Larisa was refounded by the Ptolemaic dynasty as Ptolemais. This theory has by no means won universal favour, and at present there is too little archaeological or numismatic evidence to decide the matter. Whether or not Larisa was still a polis at the time, the Delphic thearodokoi stopped off there c. 230 - 220 BC, indicating that there was still a settlement of some description on the site at this point. However, by the beginning of the Roman period Larisa appears to have been abandoned altogether.
- Strabo 13.1.48.
- Robert (1951) 36-68, Cook (1973) 218-21, Akalın (1991) 65.
- The number of places named Laris(s)a was remarked upon in Classical Antiquity: Strabo 9.5.19, 13.2.3, Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia 5.123, Stephanus of Byzantium s.v. Λάρισαι πόλεις ι´. RE XII (1925) s.v. Λάρισα coll. 840-73 lists 15 places known as Laris(s)a.
- Cook (1973) 219, Akalın (1991) 65-6.
- Strabo 9.5.19, 13.3.2; Stephanus of Byzantium s.v. Λάρισσα, Scholion on Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities 1.40.
- See most recently Finkelberg (2005). The Larisa referred to by Homer as being inhabited by 'the tribe of the Pelasgians' (Iliad 2.840-1, cf. 17.301) probably refers to the 'Ionian' or 'Aeolian' Larisa: Robert (1951) 36 nn. 2-4.
- Finkelberg (2005) 42-64.
- Cook (1973) 218-19.
- IG I3 71.III.130, IG I3 77.IV.19.
- Carusi (2003) 35-6.
- Strabo 13.1.47: Λάρισα καὶ Κολωναὶ τῆς ... 10 ... δίας οὖσαι πρότερον ('Larisa and Kolonai, which previously belonged to the ... 10 ... DIAS'). In his 1833 edition, Groskurd saw that the 'd' must be an 'a' (Δ for Α, a common palaeographical mistake), and so restored Τενεδίων περαίας ('the peraia of the Tenedians'). However, this is 11 letters not 10, and so Cook's restoration of Λεσβίων περαίας ('the peraia of the Lesbians'), which also agrees with the epigraphic evidence, is now universally accepted: Cook (1973) 197-8, Carusi (2003) 36, Radt (2008) 497.
- Xenophon, Hellenica 3.1.16, Diodorus Siculus 14.38.3.
- Homer gives the epithet ἐριβῶλαξ (eribōlax), meaning 'with large clods of rich, loamy, soil' (LSJ s.v. ἐριβῶλαξ), to a place called Larisa, but this is generally identified as either the 'Aeolian' or 'Ionian' Larisa on the basis of Homer, Iliad 17.301: Strabo 13.3.2, Robert (1951) 36 nn. 2-4, 64-5 n. 7.
- Cook (1973) 218.
- Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 2.43a: 'Some naturally warm water is fresh, such as that in Aigai in Cilicia and around Pagasai, as well as in Trojan Larissa' (trans. Gulick, Loeb vol. 1). He is quoting the late 4th century BC writer Theophrastus who was from the nearby island of Lesbos. Many editors correct the manuscripts to read 'around Tragasai in Trojan Larissa': Cook (1973) 220 n. 2.
- Carusi (2003) 35-6.
- Cook (1973) 221 n. 2, Cook (1988) 13-15.
- Robert (1946) 516ff, Robert (1951) 16 n. 2.
- Objections: Cook (1973) 219 n. 2, Cook (1988) 13-15. Cook would instead assign the coin to Ptolemais-Lebedos. A recent reappraisal of the history of Hamaxitus, which down-dates its synoecism with Alexandreia Troas to c. 188 - c. 171 BC, strengthens Robert's case: Bresson (2007) 139-58.
- Plassart (1921) 8.
- Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia 5.123 (mid-1st century AD): fuit et Polymedia civitas, Chrysa et Larisa alia; Zminthium templum durat, '(in this area) there was once the city-state of Polymedia, and Chrysa, and another Larisa; the temple of Smintheus is still there'; on what Pliny's use of fuit and fuerat implies, see Robert (1951) 46 n. 3. Robert (1982) 331 n. 76 adduces Larisa's absence from a list of cities participating in the festival of Athena Ilias in 77 BC (OGIS 444) as another possible indication that by this point it had ceased to exist.
- L. Bürchner, RE XII (1925) s.v. Λάρισα (7), col. 871.
- A. Plassart, ‘Inscriptions de Delphes: la liste de théorodoques’ BCH 45 (1921) 1-85.
- L. Robert, 'Villes de Carie et d'Ionie dans la liste des théorodoques de Delphes' BCH 70 (1946) 506-23.
- L. Robert, Études de Numismatique Grecque (Paris, 1951).
- J. M. Cook, The Troad: An Archaeological and Topographical Study (Oxford, 1973) 218-21.
- L. Robert, 'Documents d'Asie Mineure' BCH 106.1 (1982) 319-33.
- J. M. Cook, 'Cities in and around the Troad' ABSA 83 (1988) 7-19.
- A. G. Akalın, 'Larisa und der Liman-Tepe in der Troas' in Studien zum antiken Kleinasien. Band III (Bonn, 1991) 63-8.
- C. Carusi, Isole e Peree in Asia Minore (Pisa, 2003) 35-7.
- S. Mitchell, 'Larisa' in M.H. Hansen and T.H. Nielsen (eds.), An Inventory of Archaic and Classical Poleis (Oxford, 2004) no. 784.
- M. Finkelberg, Greeks and Pre-Greeks: Aegean Prehistory and Greek Heroic Tradition (Cambridge, 2005).
- A. Bresson, 'Hamaxitos en Troade' in J. Dalaison (ed.), Espaces et pouvoirs dans l’Antiquité de l’Anatolie à la Gaule (Grenoble, 2007) 139-58.
- S. Radt, Strabons Geographika: mit Übersetzung und Kommentar Vol. VII (Göttingen, 2008).