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by Archaeology Newsroom

Kleitor. City of the Arcadian Azania

Kleitor, a city of NW Arcadia called Azania in antiquity, lies about 3 km. west of the village of Kato Kleitoria and today belongs administratively to the Kalavryta county of Achaia. It owes its name (kleistos-closed) to its enclosed landscape, mythological tradition, however, relates it to Kleitor, son of Azania, the founder of the Arcadian tribe of Azanoi. Texts by Pausanias are the most important historical sources for the topography, monuments and myths of the region. Nevertheless, the relevant testimony of earlier writers, such as Pindar, Xenophon, Plutarch, Polybius, Libius, is also enlightening.

The city has been excavated since 1987, and its cultural physiognomy has emerged progressively through the combination of random finds, excavational data and survey results. Its Hellenistic fortification wall, of which the NW and W gates have been located, encloses an area of 145 acres approximately. Its cemeteries are dated from the Geometric to the Late Roman years; while the ancient theater,the houses and kilns for ceramics have started being revealed by the city itself. None of its sanctuaries mentioned by Pausanias -those of Asclepius, Demeter, Eilethia, Dioskouroi, Koria Athena- have as yet been identified although there are positive indications of the cult of Artemis. Moreover, at the site of Frangoklessi, which today dominates the archaeological area and echoes the Frankish conquest of the land, an Early Christian basilica has been located. Random Prehistoric finds, products of surveys or excavations – place the use of the site in the Early Mycenean period. The city seems to have prospered in Classical and Hellenistic times, it was a trading center in the Roman era, while its administrative nucleus in later days probably moved west to the town going by the name of Kleitor since Mediaeval times.