The SE district of Peloponnese, bordering Arcadia to the north and Messenia to the west. Until the 190s bc, Laconia was controlled by Sparta and was the ‘nuclear territory’ of the Spartans. A mountainous region, Laconia comprises the Parnon range in the east running south to the Malea peninsula, and the Taygetus range in the west, which towers over the plain of Sparta and extends south to the Mani peninsula. In between is the valley of the Eurotas, the main area of cultivable land.
By c.700 bc Sparta controlled most of Laconia and had begun its expansion into Messenia, reducing much of the conquered population to helotry. Spartiate territory comprised the plain of Sparta and its surrounds, the rest of Laconia being divided among nominally independent perioecic towns (see perioikoi). The northern frontiers were established c.540 after long disputes with Argos and Tegea. Communications with the outside world were through Tegea to the north and Gytheum, Sparta's port and naval station, to the south. Spartan control of Laconia was uninterrupted until 338 bc.
Subjects: Classical studies