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Athens V Sparta Geography

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Athens v. Sparta

Geographical Showdown

Although they pursued different cultural paths, Sparta and Athens were both strongly shaped by their geographical circumstances.

After the fall of the Mycenaean Empire many local institutions called poleis took the lead in restoring Greece. Many of these city-states grew independently, adapting to their physical surroundings. The two most famous of these poleis were Athens and Sparta. For example, Athens adapted to its access to the Mediterranean Sea by basing its economy on maritime trade. Sparta on the other hand was founded on a fertile region in center of Peloponnesus, which made them very xenophobic and military based. The geography was a key aspect that affected the Athenian and Spartan economy, foreign relationships, and social structure. Athens and Sparta definitely based their economies on their surroundings. Athens was located relatively near the coast of the Mediterranean, next to Attica. The land they were located on was very arid and rock. Therefore, their soil was not fertile and unfit to live off of, yet did supply the polis a surplus of silver. Because of this, the Athenian economy was based on maritime trade of silver to Persia and other around the region of the Mediterranean. Their economy flourished due to this generous resource. Sparta on the other hand was situated in a fertile region near the center of Peloponnesus. As their population and economy grew, the Spartans progressively began extending their control over Peloponnesus because their land that they possessed like Athens was not fit to live off of. In this process they began to conquer their neighbors. One of surrounding city-states was Laconia (a.k.a. Lacedaemon). The Spartans sought interest in seizing the Laconian plain because it offered a solution, 27 miles south of Sparta, to the need for land to feed a growing…...

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