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Four The Date of the Dema Wall
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The Date of the Dema Wall

Among previous investigators, opinions have varied as to whether the Dema wall was constructed in haste or at leisure and whether it therefore was built to face some sudden emergency or to be a more permanent line of defense.[1] A balanced judgment on the subject is possible only in light of the thorough study by Jones, Sackett, and Eliot, whose opinion thus supersedes earlier views on the subject. Objections to their view that the wall was abandoned before work on it was completed have been raised in chapter 2. Otherwise, one can agree completely with their evaluation of the character of the wall. The degree of care demonstrated in the planning and construction of the main sector of the Dema indicates that the work was carried out, in their words, "methodically and without undue haste."[2]


As to the nature of the danger that this tactical barrier was built to counteract, their conclusions again seem to characterize the situation well:

The Dema is a result  . . . of a war crisis and a threat of invasion. The particular danger, although it may not have been immediate, demanded strong counter-measures. The wall was to safeguard Athens in a campaign and was not thrown up for a single pitched battle.[3]

Accordingly, the placement of the Dema was not determined by the fortuitous positions of two opposing armies on one particular occasion. Just as its design was evidently conceived through scrupulous attention to certain tactical principles, so its location must have been determined ac-cording to a comprehensive assessment of defensive requirements in a particular crisis.

Jones, Sackett, and Eliot assume that the wall was built by Athenians for the protection of Athens. An alternative possibility, namely that the wall might have been built by a Macedonian army campaigning in Attica, was raised by McCredie. The archaeological evidence now available definitely excludes a date as late as the Chremonidean War of 268-262, which McCredie advocated.[4] In fact, any date later than 322, when Athens first fell under Macedonian domination, is decidedly unlikely. The archaeological evidence for the date of the wall strongly supports the view that the Dema was a defensive work of the independent Athenian state, built as part of a plan for the defense of Athens and the greater part of Attica which lay behind the wall. Attention to the strategic advantages provided by the Dema wall should, therefore, tell us a good deal about the nature of the threat that it was built to counteract.

The Strategic Purpose of the Dema Wall.

The Dema wall was built to enable an army to prevent an enemy force in the plain of Eleusis from entering the plain of Athens. Since all other passes between these plains are considerably narrower than the Aigaleos-Parnes gap, only this pass needed to be fortified in order to assure the defenders a decisive advantage over the attacking enemy. Such a defensive stance clearly implies that the enemy was known to be numerically superior and therefore too powerful to meet in pitched battle in the plain. In order for the Dema to have been useful in any comprehensive plan of defense, there must have been no obvious routes toward Athens circumventing the Dema that were left open to the enemy. This


Map 5.
Routes and passes across the Attic-Boiotian-Megarian frontiers


implies that the enemy—did not have decisive control of the sea and that no major overland routes other than those crossing the plain of Eleusis were directly accessible to the enemy.

The only routes not crossing the plain of Eleusis that could give an invading army access to Athens and southern Attica are the routes by way of Phyle, Dekeleia, and Aphidna in the north of Attica.[5] The Phyle route involves long stretches up and down steep slopes and through narrows within Mount Parnes and therefore would never have needed a fieldwork like the Dema wall to make it defensible. Likewise, the Dekeleia road, though not as long as the mountain way past Phyle, is sufficiently steep and rugged that it could be regarded as naturally defensible. The passes through Aphidna, however, on the route of the modern National Road, provide an open way into Attica that would be at least as easy for an army as the way through the Aigaleos-Parnes gap. Here, if the northern frontier were as exposed to danger as the western, one would expect that a barrier similar to the Dema would have been built. The pass on the north side of the Aphidna basin is the most defensible gap on the Aphidna route, and here the rocky slopes within the pass afford both the same sort of defensible terrain and the same durable building materials that were utilized in the Dema. The absence of any such fieldwork here, or anywhere else along this route, indicates that this northern quarter was not considered to be subject to the same threat of invasion as was the plain of Eleusis.

The outlook of the Dema tower lends support to this conclusion. From the tower, several outposts toward the western frontiers can be seen, but none toward the north. The outposts that do exist along the northern frontiers bear no resemblance to the Dema tower, are not intervisible with it, and almost certainly were not built at the same time as the system to which the Dema tower belongs.[6] If, as has been argued, the Dema was the base for an Athenian army that was prepared to react to signals indicating the approach of an enemy force, then the absence of any signal connection with the northern frontier indicates that the enemy was not anticipated in that quarter. Like the wall itself, the Dema tower and its visual contacts indicate that the crisis which led to the con-


struction of the Dema involved the possibility that Attica would be invaded specifically by way of the plain of Eleusis.

The main routes into the Eleusinian plain are the road from the Megarid and the Peloponnese along the coast, and the road from Boiotia across Kithairon by way of Eleutherai and Oinoe.[7] Any army that was able to invade Attica from Boiotia by crossing Kithairon would likely have been able just as easily to enter Attica via Aphidna.[8] Since no defenses seem to have been prepared along the latter route, it seems unlikely that the enemy was Boiotian or any power able to move at will through Boiotia. That being the case, the source of danger most likely lay in the Peloponnese.[9]

If Attica in fact lay under threat of invasion from the Peloponnese, it may be asked why so considerable a fortification was built in the Aigaleos-Parnes gap rather than closer to the Megarian frontier. The answer emerges when we consider the nature and complexity of the routes through the western frontiers of Attica. An army coming from the Peloponnese could have used either of the two major routes entering the plain of Eleusis, the coastal route from Megara or the route through Kithairon, which was followed by Archidamos in 431. Moreover, the mountain terrain west of the plain of Eleusis is complex, and several minor routes might have proven useful to an invader seeking to outflank a defensive position.[10] To build permanent fieldworks across any one of these routes would thus have been futile, while to fortify all of them would have been wastefully expensive. On the other hand, all routes through these western mountains pass through terrain where the ways are so constricted that practically no artificial barriers would have been


needed to add strength to a defending force's position. If a stand on this frontier seemed desirable, strong positions could be held without fortifications.[11]

The construction of the Dema wall in the Aigaleos-Parnes gap, therefore, is intelligible in terms of a strategy for the defense of Attica against an invasion from the Peloponnese that might have provided for the positioning of advanced forces at key points on the western frontiers but that did not commit Athenian forces to a decisive stand either in the mountains of those frontiers, where they might have been outmaneuvered, or in the plain of Eleusis, where they might have been outnumbered. The decisive battle, if it came to that, would be fought as the enemy attempted to pass Mount Aigaleos, in which case the action would certainly center on the Aigaleos-Parnes gap, which was the most obvious way for a large army to enter the plain of Athens from the plain of Eleusis. It was through this pass that the army of Archidamos entered the plain of Athens in 431, and very likely it remained the route for invading Peloponnesian armies throughout the Peloponnesian War.[12] Closing this gap would mean that no army from the Peloponnese could occupy and plunder the whole Attic countryside as the Spartans had in the Peloponnesian War.

The connection between Spartan strategy in the Peloponnesian War and the strategic concerns that led to the construction of the Dema wall is more than fortuitous. When we consider what has been deduced from the nature and placement of the Dema wall, together with its probable date as indicated by purely archaeological evidence, everything points to Spartan power as the threat to Attica that the Dema was designed to counteract. The only power from the Peloponnese whose forces on land were known to be numerically superior to those of Athens was Sparta, at the head of its Peloponnesian alliance. From the end of the Peloponnesian War until the third decade of the fourth century, Sparta was at the height of its power, and twice during that period, Sparta and Athens were at war.

In the first of these conflicts, the Corinthian War of 395-386, the Athenians chose to fight the Spartans because they calculated that the war would be fought well beyond the confines of Attica, as in fact it was. With their resources committed to other strategies that, for defensive purposes, were consistently successful, it is extremely unlikely that the


Athenians would have diverted manpower and money to the creation of a defensive network within Attica itself.[13] The second conflict with Sparta, the Boiotian War, was thrust upon the Athenians by a chain of circumstances that culminated in an actual invasion of Attica by the Spartan harmost Sphodrias. Thereafter, the course of the war was predictable. It was expected that Spartan armies crossing the Isthmus would march against Thebes, but they might also invade Attica, since the Athenians were now fighting together with the Thebans against Sparta. With Theban and Athenian forces planning to resist the Spartans in the vicinity of Thebes, the Athenians could feel reasonably confident that a Spartan army would not easily march through Boiotia to enter Attica from the north. The threat to Athens lay in the possibility that Agesilaos would repeat the strategy of his father, Archidamos, and invade Attica through the plain of Eleusis.[14]

Here are circumstances that exactly match the evident strategic purpose of the Dema wall and the tower system associated with it. The Boiotian War began in 378, a date that tallies with the archaeological evidence favoring a date in the first quarter of the fourth century for the Dema. The tactics implied by the form of the wall, as discussed in chapter 2, are known to have been common at the time of the Boiotian War. The network of towers and outposts west of the Dema tower would precisely suit the defensive concerns of the Athenians after the lesson of Sphodrias' raid was learned. Finally, the closest known parallel to the Dema is the wall built around Thebes in the first year of this war, and the Athenian commander most closely associated with fieldworks of this sort was Chabrias, who distinguished himself for his tactical sagacity at Thebes at the outset of this war. The circumstantial case is therefore extremely strong that the Dema wall was built after the raid of Sphodrias to safeguard Athens during the Boiotian War and that Ghabrias had a significant role in the design of this fieldwork.

Two general points still require demonstration before this strong circumstantial case can be regarded without reservation as the explanation of the Dema wall. The first is that it be shown that the Dema wall and tower system accord well with what is known of the tactical and strategic


principles of territorial defense at the time of the Boiotian War, and the second is that it be shown that no other event within the archaeologically permissible dates has an equal or stronger claim on likelihood.

Contemporary Principles of Territorial Defense

The appropriateness of the Dema wall to the defensive principles of the time of the Boiotian War has already been partially demonstrated through the comparison in chapter 2 of the Dema to the Theban stockade and to other works associated with Chabrias. The demonstration is complete when it is seen how well the Dema system exemplifies the precepts of defensive planning found in the writings of Aeneas Tacticus, Xenophon, and Plato, all of whom were practitioners or observers of military science at the time of the Boiotian War, and all of whom wrote within a generation of the end of that war.

The most derailed extant fourth-century handbook on defensive preparations, and the one most relevant to our purposes, is the work by Aeneas Tacticus.[15] In this treatise, Aeneas is chiefly concerned with how a commander should prepare the defenses of a city at war which was liable to undergo a siege, but he also devotes attention to the problem of repulsing an attacking army in the field before the city itself is invested. Aeneas' precepts in this connection concern just the sort of circumstances that must have occasioned the construction of the Dema wall, namely, a "war crisis and a threat of invasion."

Under normal circumstances, Aeneas expects defending forces to be assembled only when the approach of the enemy is announced by messenger or by signal. Since the invading army must come in sufficient strength to overwhelm the defenders in pitched battle, Aeneas advises the defending commander to "attack the enemy where you are not unwilling to do battle, and where you will not be at a disadvantage in the fight."[16] This means that under most conditions, the defending commander will have to allow the enemy to proceed with his plundering until the opportune moment or place for a counterattack is reached. Only where the terrain of the frontier is suitable does Aeneas suggest that advance preparations might be effective in keeping an invading army out of the countryside altogether:


And should the countryside not be easy to invade, but have few and narrow passes into it, you must prepare these in advance, distributing forces as has already been described, in order to oppose at the passes those who are attacking and planning to march upon the city, while men who can communicate by signal fires the fortunes of each division are already in position, so that these divisions can bring support, if in any way they need one another's help.[17]

The distribution of forces referred to by Aeneas involves the occupation of high ground by light troops, the use of cavalry patrols, the preparation of ambushes, and the positioning of bodies of hoplite troops where they can advance to support those who engage the enemy first.[18] The building of fieldworks might be among the preparations that Aeneas has in mind, although he does not specifically mention such here. Separate divisions of defending forces will have to prepare themselves at appropriate points along each of the approaches, and a signal system must be established so that any one division under attack can be sup-ported by the others as needed. As Aeneas recognizes, such preparations are viable only if the defensive positions can be few and strong:

Otherwise, if the countryside should not be difficult to invade, but it is possible for large forces to invade at many points, you must occupy advantageous places in the countryside so as to make it difficult for the enemy to advance upon the city. But if there are no such places, you must occupy whatever positions near the city are useful for fighting at an advantage while allowing you to retire at ease whenever you wish to withdraw to the city.[19]

For Aeneas, topography above all dictates the actions to be taken by defenders facing a full-scale invasion.[20] The particular composition and


relative strengths of the opposing armies are not of central importance in Aeneas' reckoning because these factors are predictable, within broad limits, and can be taken for granted. The invaders will have a strong army, numerically superior to the defenders, while the defenders themselves will have an army of some size (possibly including allies and mercenaries) that is made up of appropriate proportions of heavy and light infantry and cavalry.[21] Within this general framework, and given the fore-thought that Aeneas' writings were meant to inspire in a commander, the defenders' strategy would be largely determined by the opportunities afforded by local terrain.

The essence of Aeneas' advice on the defense of territory is that an invading army can be halted only where the defenders can occupy strong ground along the invader's route, compelling the enemy to give battle on terms advantageous to the defenders. Aeneas assumes that narrow passes might provide defensive positions strong enough that even a division of the defending force could hold off the entire invading army, although any division sent to guard a pass before the arrival of the enemy will probably have to be reinforced when a direct assault on its position appears imminent. In general, a committed stand can be made only where the defenders are reasonably sure that the enemy cannot circumvent their position and cut them off from their own city. So wherever more than one pass must be guarded, the defending commander must judge the risks of being outmanuvered by the enemy, who might attack at several points, against the strengths of his own positions in determining whether or not to allow his forces to give way before the enemy and in deciding where to commit his main strength to battle.

The defensive strategy underlying the placement of the Dema wall and the various watchtowers in communication with it, as discussed in the first section of this chapter, accords very well with these precepts. Given the large extent of Attic territory, and especially the complexity of the topography toward the Megarian frontier, the Aigaleos-Parnes gap is indeed the most advantageous point to occupy in anticipation of an enemy,

.[22] The fact that Aeneas does not specifically mention the preparation of fieldworks like the Dema is no objection to seeing such tactical devices employed in his scheme. We know that such fieldworks were used in his day, and it is quite possible that Aeneas did discuss them elsewhere, in writings which have not survived.[23]


Xenophon discusses the defensibility of Attica in terms that correspond with significant aspects of Aeneas' advice and with the strategy evident in the Dema wall. In the dialogue from the Memorabilia quoted at the beginning of chapter 1, Xenophon notes that "great mountains reaching Boiotia protect our country, through which the passes are narrow and steep, and  . . . the interior of our country is divided by sheer mountains."[24] The light troops that should hold these mountains for the Athenians, according to Xenophon, were essentially those ephebes and peripoloi who did in fact guard Attic strongholds and patrol the frontiers to protect Attic land from minor raids and depredations by the Boiotians, whose animosity posed a constant threat to the Athenians during the 360s and 350s, when this passage was written.[25] But the passage is also evocative of the light troops who guarded these passes in 378-375, beginning with those under Chabrias at Eleutherai in the winter of 379/8 and culminating with those who repelled the forces of Kleombrotos on Kithairon in 376.[26]

It is especially relevant to note Xenophon's reference in this context to the mountain barriers in the interior of Attica which, when defended, would also constitute substantial obstacles to an invader. The Aigaleos range, dividing the plain of Eleusis from the plain of Athens, was and is foremost in importance among these, and the strategic value of defending the Aigaleos-Parnes gap in particular must have been clearly recognized when Xenophon wrote this passage. It may well have been a defensive position for the Athenians at the time of the invasions of Kleomenes in 506 and of Pleistoanax in 446, both of which penetrated no farther than the plain of Eleusis.[27] The gap was the passage for Ar-


chidamos in 431, when the Spartans began a series of general invasions of Attica. The young Xenophon probably had personal experience observing the operations of the Peloponnesian army during the last years of the Dekeleian War, when he served as a cavalryman.[28] He would have been only one among many Athenians to notice the ways in which the terrain of Attica constrained, at certain points, the movements of the massed forces of the Peloponnesians.

Like Xenophon, Plato also recognized the value of a force trained for mountain fighting in the defense of a state with mountainous frontiers.[29] Writing in the Laws of a hypothetical state to be founded in the rugged terrain of Crete, Plato recommends not only that its citizens be trained as hoplites and cavalrymen, but also that they be drilled in skirmishing tactics with light arms and that they practice capturing positions and ambushing the enemy.[30] Young men are to be chosen by officers to spend two years of duty on patrol in the countryside, with the particular object of becoming thoroughly familiar with the terrain they may have to defend.[31] One of the tasks of these young men is to construct field-works of a type generally comparable to the Dema wall, "so that the countryside will be well barricaded against the enemy."[32]

The importance of topography for defensive planning is recognized by Plato in much the same way as it is by Xenophon and Aeneas. All three writers, in fact, advocate very much the same approach to territorial defense, and together they embrace all aspects of strategic and tactical planning evident in the defensive scheme of the Dema. They assume that defending forces will be composed of an appropriate balance of hoplites, light infantry, and cavalry, and Xenophon and Plato make special mention of the utility of light-armed infantry for fighting in broken terrain. This overall composition of forces, and the emphasis on light-armed infantry, is entirely appropriate to the defense of the Dema in particular and of the passes of the frontiers to the west in general. A two-tiered defensive scheme involving the positioning of flexible advanced units in the mountains of the frontiers and the establishment of a second, more unyielding, defensive line along Aigaleos and in the Aigaleos-Parnes gap accords well with the general advice of Aeneas and


the specific observations of Xenophon on Attic topography. The need mentioned by Aeneas for signal communication among these defensive units is satisfied by the system of signal posts related to the Dema tower. The use of fieldworks to reinforce the natural barriers of the country-side is specifically recommended by Plato. We may conclude that the strategy behind the construction of the Dema wall as outlined in this chapter is not only plausible but is typical of defensive theory and practice current in the second quarter of the fourth century.

The approach to territorial defense comprised in these doctrines of Aeneas, Xenophon, and Plato is a distinctive feature of fourth-century military theory and practice, distinctive especially for the Athenians by contrast to the policy and practices they had adopted under the guidance of Perikles during the Peloponnesian War.[33] As useful as the experience of Athens during the Peloponnesian War was as a rhetorical foil for fourth-century politicians, however, it is most unlikely that practical doctrines of territorial defense evolved in the fourth century simply as retrospective reactions against the failure of the Periklean strategy for the defense of Athens in the fifth century. The particular defensive strategies advocated in these writings of the 360s and 350s must have been developed in practice, where they had actually demonstrated their appropriateness to contemporary conditions. In fact, these circumstances may be recognized in the events of the Boiotian War.

From the outset of that war, light-armed troops attempted to hold mountain passes against invading armies; fieldworks for territorial defense were deployed around Thebes; mountaintop lookouts and signal posts were employed.[34] Although none of these elements was without precedent before the Boiotian War, all of them were integrated for the first time into a comprehensive strategy for the defense of Thebes (and, as argued here, Athens) against Peloponnesian forces in 378. By contrast, the strategies of these same states in the Corinthian War were much more traditional. That war opened with a series of pitched battles and soon lapsed into a prolonged war of attrition. At no time during the Corinthian War did all of the elements of territorial defense as described above come into play. But with the outbreak of the next war among the major powers of Greece, the Boiotian War, they are all employed, and examples of similar defensive preparations may be cited in the decades immediately following.[35] This is the period when the most distinctive


features of fourth-century defensive strategy were put into action, features that, by the middle of the century, could be considered standard practice.[36] The evidence, both historical and archaeological, indicates that the Dema wall was a product of the original formulation of this strategy in 378.

Limits of the Archaeological Evidence

The previous section has demonstrated the singular appropriateness of the Dema defenses to the circumstances of the Boiotian War and has presented reasons why the preceding Corinthian War was decidedly less likely to have seen the deployment of this defensive system. The historical and archaeological possibilities for the date of the Dema wall are by no means thus exhausted, for the archaeological evidence discussed in chapters 2 and 3 has limited the possibilities only to the range of ca. 425-375.

Archaeological evidence is always to some degree subjective, however, and is therefore always liable to alternative interpretations. In this case, it must be pointed out that the significance of the relationships between the tower and wall, and between the cup sherds, catalog nos. 1 and 2, and the tower, are established by arguments, not by irrefutable demonstration. Although it is doubtful that any strong argument could be found to dissociate the Dema tower from the Dema wall, it would be easier to dismiss the cup fragments as irrelevant strays (though again, arguments would have to be offered to counter the case made here). If these sherds could be so dismissed, then the lower terminus for the date of the Dema system would move to at least ca. 350, and a date well into the second half of the century could not be absolutely excluded—the


date would only need to be earlier than the date of the reuse of the tower, which could be as late as ca. 300.

On the other hand, another analysis might leave unchallenged the association of the cup sherds nos. 1 and 2 with the original use of the tower but might differ in assessing the implications of their date. It is conceivable that one might argue that the cup sherds do not permit a date as late as ca. 375 and that something closer to 400 should be the lowest acceptable terminus for the date of the wall. Here again, though, the evidence and arguments cited in chapter 3 (see especially note 28) would have to be countered. Ultimately, however, with material as slight as this, and especially when arguments might seek to discriminate between dates as close as a quarter-century, the imprecision and subjectivity of the archaeological evidence does not allow a firm decision. The acceptance of the case that has been consistently advanced up to this point, namely, that the Dema wall belongs to the era of the Boiotian War, ultimately depends upon a convincing demonstration by arguments from historical probability that no other occasion within the broadest chronological limits allowable is either suitable or likely.

To those who may find themselves persuaded by the arguments so far adduced in favor of the date of 378, it may seem otiose now to review the possible alternative occasions from the last quarter of the fifth to the last quarter of the fourth centuries. The skeptic, however, needs no apology for the exercise. For in constructing an argument such as this which combines such various forms of evidence, it is essential that the comparative strengths of each argument and class of evidence be established so that it will be clear, in any case of real or perceived contradiction between argument and evidence, which has priority over the other. Potential disagreements with the interpretation of archaeological evidence advanced here have been noted above. They derive from the subjective nature of archaeological evidence. If one were to argue that the archaeological evidence either allows alternate possibilities or even excludes the explanation advanced here, then one must also demonstrate that one or more alternative occasions or explanations suit the evidence as well as or better than the scenario advanced here. If, in such a historically well-documented period, no such occasions or explanations can be found, then any objection on archaeological grounds to the interpretation of the Dema wall advanced here is unfounded.

This point is of considerable importance, for it entails the deduction of a cumulative proof of the date of the Dema wall. In this process, the associations on which the foregoing arguments have been founded, namely, that the Dema tower is integral to the wall and that other mountaintop towers were integral to the Dema defenses, and further, that the cup sherds, catalog nos. 1 and 2, were debris from the original use of


the tower, are all validated on the strength of the historical evidence (which is quite independent of the archaeological evidence in this case). This demonstration has implications beyond the subject and the monuments under consideration here, for it establishes a fixed point of reference for archaeological criteria such as techniques of fortification, masonry styles, and even pottery chronology. The last is potentially the most important archaeological implication of this study. For although at present the collection of pottery associated with the primary date for the Dema wall and tower is almost absurdly minuscule, there is little doubt that in the course of time more work on related towers and outposts in Attica will reveal more pottery to be associated with this point in time, and the accumulation of material will then become significant.

There is also little doubt, however, that the study of other Attic towers and outposts will prove complicated. The Dema tower has already revealed two distinct phases of activity within the space of a century, and this tower has every likelihood of having had one of the simplest histories of any such mountaintop outpost in Attica. Almost all others, once established, very likely were frequently reused for various purposes through-out the late classical and Hellenistic periods, as the evidence of sherds on the surface at many of these sites makes plain. The archaeological evidence, as its study progresses, is thus bound to be complicated even on such small sites. A historically fixed point at the Dema tower, however slight the archaeological material initially associated with it may be, is therefore of great importance for future work on Attic watchtowers and related sites.

In establishing the date of a monument such as the Dema wall, there-fore, the archaeological evidence is only indicative. It serves to show approximately where, in time, the historical occasion is to be sought. That occasion can only be found through historical inquiry.

Alterative Historical Occasions

Could the Dema wall actually have been built for, or during, the Peloponnesian War? That suggestion has been advanced in the past, though never defended, and in fact it can easily be excluded from consideration. In the first place, the saltcellar found in the wall establishes strong evidence for a date later than the Peloponnesian War, but it does not absolutely rule out the possibility of a date as early as ca. 425. On this evidence, the wall could not have been built before the war only to be abandoned, but it could only have been built after the last Spartan invasion of the Archidamian War, which took place in 425. There is little reason to believe that the Athenians would have employed such a wall at that time, how-


ever, since it would have been so contrary to the still-successful policy of Perikles of refusing hoplite battle. Still less is there reason to believe that the Athenians had any need for such a wall after 425, since they held Spartan hostages from Pylos, and by threatening to execute these, Thucydides reports, they successfully dissuaded the Spartans from invading Attica until peace was made in 421.[37]

There is likewise no reason to believe that the Athenians built the wall in anticipation of the resumption of hostilities in 413. The Athenians made no attempt to resist the Spartan invasion in that year, and any intention of confronting the Spartans on land was directly contrary to the mood that, according to Thucydides, prevailed at Athens when the Sicilian expedition was dispatched.[38] After 413, the presence of the permanent Spartan camp at Dekeleia would have made it both pointless and impossible to construct such a wall at any time during the later course of the war.

To these considerations we may add that the Dema tower, by itself or with the wall, likewise makes no sense under the conditions of either the Archidamian or Dekeleian War. Its outlook was too restricted and it was too vulnerable to attack for it to have been useful as a permanent installation from the period of these wars. The vantage points of other towers, particularly those around the plain of Athens, might have been used by lookouts during the Archidamian War on occasions when Peloponnesian invasions were anticipated, and more regularly during the Dekeleian War, when lookouts kept watch on the activities of the Peloponnesian garrison at Dekeleia.[39] But a tower or watchpost within the Aigaleos-Parnes gap would have been highly vulnerable to hostile forces abroad in the countryside and could have served no purpose not better served from other vantage points. A permanent watchpost in the Aigaleos-


Parnes gap is comprehensible, like the Dema wall itself, only in terms of a strategy for resisting, at that point, an invasion coming across the western frontiers of Attica. No such strategy existed during the Peloponnesian War, so that era is thus ruled out from consideration.

In view of the archaeological evidence that indicates a date not far from 400 for both the wall and the tower, namely, the saltcellar from the wall and the cups, catalog nos. 1 and 2, associated with the first occupation of the Dema tower, another possible occasion for these works must be considered. This is the suggestion, first proposed by Skias, modified by Kirsten and Kraiker, and now advocated again by Lohmann and others that the Dema wall was built by the Athenians to protect Athens and its surroundings when Eleusis was under the administration of the oligarchy of the Thirty and their most loyal followers, from 403 until 401/0.[40] Once again, historical circumstances are decisively against this possibility.

In terms of the functional interpretation of the defensive work, the only recommendation for this suggestion is that, like the political situation in 403-401/0, the Dema wall reflects a division between Athens and Eleusis. In moving from this simple observation to a closer consideration of the political and military circumstances, the inappropriateness of the wall becomes apparent. In the first place, the wall is not a static boundary or barrier, but as has been noted, it is a tactical device for the support of an army in battle. Likewise, it has already been observed that the planners of the Dema wall envisioned the advent of an enemy too powerful for the Athenians to confront on open ground. These characteristics in no way correspond to the relationship between Athens and Eleusis in 403-401/0.

During the period that Eleusis was under the administration of an oligarchic enclave, Athens and Eleusis were not two independent and hostile states. The Eleusinians retained their Athenian citizenship, and more important, they retained their property rights. Since, according to the agreements of 403, the Eleusinians were specifically prevented only from entering the city of Athens (and they were allowed to do even this if they submitted to legal accounting procedures), it is clear that the Eleusinian oligarchs were permitted, at least legally, free access to all parts of Attica wherever, outside of Athens, they might have had prop-


erty or business.[41] Moreover, from a military standpoint, the men of Athens were far more numerous than the oligarchs of Eleusis, and when hostilities between the two parties did occur, they consisted of a peremptory and preemptive expedition from Athens against Eleusis, a situation which so overwhelmed the oligarchs there that they entered into immediate negotiations rather than offering battle.[42] Athenian concerns in 403-401/0 would therefore never have required and, in view of the potentially offensive message it would send to Sparta, could never have justified the construction of the Dema wall.[43] The implications of the Dema tower again affirm this conclusion. In chapter 3, it was demonstrated that the tower served only to receive and respond to signals coming from Eleusis or from the frontiers beyond Eleusis, which is senseless under the circumstances of 403-401/0.

Arguments for excluding the era of the Corinthian War have been briefly stated above but deserve closer attention here. The Athenians chose to ally themselves with the Boiotians in making war on Sparta in 395 because they believed that their alliance would be the basis of a powerful confederacy of states that could carry the war against Sparta into the heart of the Peloponnese. Proof of their confidence lay in the fact that they began the war with the fortifications of Peiraieus and the long walls to Athens still in ruins, which left Athens, always dependent upon the sea, dangerously vulnerable if the Spartans were ever to advance on Attica in force.[44] By the summer of 394, when the alliance was put to the test, reality was not so encouraging to the Athenians. It eventually became clear that the battleground would not be in Arkadia or Lakonia but in the Corinthia, uncomfortably close to Attica. Under these circum-


stances, shortly before the two sides met in battle near Corinth, the Athenians began the reconstruction of the walls of Peiraieus.[45] These fortifications, and the long walls joining Peiraieus to Athens, were essential to the defense of Athens if the war in the Corinthia ever took a disastrous turn. Work on them was costly and proceeded slowly, despite a considerable infusion of Persian money and manpower brought by Konon in 393. Bricks were still being laid on the Peiraieus walls in 392/1, and it is probable that the long walls were not yet far along at that time. Ultimately, work on the Peiraieus fortifications was never even finished during the Corinthian War, for we learn that at the time of Sphodrias' raid in 378, the gates of Peiraieus had no doors.[46]

Expense is only half of the explanation for the slow progress of the refortification of Peiraieus. The other half lies in the Athenian strategy for the Corinthian War, according to which the Spartan army was to be prevented from crossing the Corinthian Isthmus. By concentrating sufficient forces at Corinth, the Athenians kept war away from Attica, and as long as their strategy was successful, there was no real urgency to complete even such vital fortifications as the circuit of Peiraieus and the long walls.[47] Only once did the Athenian strategy seem threatened, when, in 392, the Spartans under Praxitas captured the Corinthian harbor of Lechaion, opened a breach in the Corinthian long walls, and captured the towns of Sidous and Krommyon on the Isthmus, thus opening the road to Megara and Attica. Rather than launch an invasion, how-ever, the Spartans invited the Athenians and their allies to consider terms of peace, and in 392/1, ambassadors were exchanged to discuss the matter. After giving the situation serious consideration, the Athenians rejected the Spartan overtures and resumed their defensive strategy in 391 by recapturing Lechaion and repairing the long walls of Cor-


inth.[48] Lechaion was recaptured by the Spartans in the same year, and in 390, Agesilaos attempted to show the Athenians that he could circumvent Corinth by marching to Perachora and Oinoe on the Isthmus. With skill and daring, the Spartans were thus able to raid the far reaches of Corinthian territory, but they were far from threatening Attica. The mercenary and hoplite forces maintained by the Athenians at Corinth required opposing forces to be maintained by the Spartans at Sikyon and Lechaion and thus prevented the Spartans from assembling a strong enough army for an outright invasion. The victory of Iphikrates and his mercenaries over Spartan hoplites between Corinth and Sikyon put an end to Agesilaos' momentary advance onto the Isthmus, and the ensuing recapture of Sidous, Krommyon, and Oinoe by Iphikrates marked a further setback for the Spartans, who never again attempted to operate beyond Corinth.[49]

The war around Corinth, therefore, was tenaciously pursued by the Athenians because they recognized that as long as Athens maintained a stronghold on the Peloponnesian side of the Isthmus, the Spartans would be unable to march on Attica. Along with their commitments to Corinth, the highest priority of the Athenians for the security of Athens was the rebuilding and manning of their navy. Maintenance of these two armaments, the mercenaries at Corinth and the navy, were the greatest financial burdens for the Athenians, and the scarcity of funds for even these essential commitments goes far to explain the slow progress on the Peiraieus fortifications, which must be ranked a distant third in their priorities.[50] Under these circumstances, there were neither the resources nor the need to build a wall in the Aigaleos-Parnes gap.

The state of Athenian defenses at the beginning of the next war with Sparta, in 378, provides the most decisive evidence that the Dema defenses were not in existence before that year. Athenians had collaborated with the Theban conspirators in the overthrow of the Spartan garrison at Thebes in the winter of 379/8, and Athenian forces again stood to arms on their frontiers when Kleombrotos marched into Boiotia in his unsuccessful attempt to save the garrison. After Sparta had been thus


provoked, and a powerful Spartan force had been established under Sphodrias at Thespiai, the Athenians (for reasons to be discussed in chapter 5 below) suddenly affected a conciliatory stance toward the Spartans. While negotiations with Spartan ambassadors were under way at Athens, Sphodrias launched a surprise attack against the Athenians by marching at night across the Kithairon frontier and through the plain of Eleusis in an attempt to seize Peiraieus. He failed only because the distance was too great for his march to be completed before daybreak. His army was reported to Athens by those who chanced upon it, not by any regular lookouts.[51]

If the Athenians already had the system of lookout towers referred to in the previous chapter, then it is inconceivable that they would not have been manned and ready under the conditions of early 378, when, as Xenophon reports, the Athenians were so fearful of the power of the Spartans now that war was on their very borders (Hellenika 5.4.19). Even if the Athenians were making strenuous efforts to placate the Spartans, they could hardly have afforded not to use established watchposts toward the Kithairon frontier if they already existed. The circumstances of Sphodrias' raid indicate that no such regular watchposts had yet been established. The Dema wall and the Dema tower in particular were dependent upon those advanced watchposts, and therefore they cannot yet have existed either. No event could have demonstrated more vividly to the Athenians the need for vigilance against the Spartans than Sphodrias' raid. The primary thesis of this part of the present work is that the defensive network of towers and outposts associated with the Dema wall, and hence the wall itself, was established as a direct result of the raid of Sphodrias, as part of the general mobilization of the Athenians for war with Sparta that followed that event.

The peace treaty of 375 brought a momentary halt to the war between Athens and Sparta and relieved the Athenians of the burden of mainraining their

"watchposts of the countryside," according to Xenophon (Hellenika 6.2.1). The full meaning of this reference will be considered below in chapter 5, but here we may note that this release from watchfulness provides a terminus ante quem for the establishment of the watchtowers associated with the Dema defenses. Thereafter, although parts of the outpost system were certainly again put to use, there was never an occasion that made the defense of the Aigaleos-Parnes gap so vitally important as it had been in 378-375. Therefore, it is decidedly unlikely that the Dema wall was actually built after 375. This point requires demonstration, however, and not mere assertion.


With the resumption of Spartan-Athenian hostilities between 373 and 371, all fighting took place well beyond the confines of Attica, and it is exceedingly unlikely that the Athenians would have manned their territorial defenses at the same level as before 375. In 371, with the peace at Sparta, significant realignments of power and of Athenian defensive concerns were brought about. With that peace treaty, the Athenians disengaged themselves not only from the war with Sparta but also from their commitments to the Thebans, with whom relations over the pre-ceding years had become progressively more strained. The Athenians, now at peace with Sparta and its allies, stood aloof from the confrontation between Peloponnesian and Theban forces at Leuktra in 371 and the Theban operations in the Peloponnese that followed. By 369, in response to appeals from Sparta and its allies, the Athenians joined the Spartans in an alliance and sent forces into the Peloponnese to support them against the Thebans.[52]

By this turn of events, the Athenians and the Thebans became openly antagonistic toward each other. That relationship persisted for the next thirty years, although hostilities were mostly pursued by proxy and actual fighting between Thebans and Athenians took place only on a few occasions, well away from the confines of Attica and Boiotia. Yet the threat of direct conflict was often serious, especially during the height of the Theban supremacy in the 360s.[53] Might this enduring condition of mutual antagonism have resulted in the construction of the Dema wall?

The first objection to the association of the Dema with the Theban threat to Attica is that the Dema is part of a system which protects Athens and the greater part of Attica against a danger that lay specifically to the west. As discussed earlier in this chapter, there is no evidence that measures comparable to the Dema were taken along any of the northern approaches to Athens. The Thebans certainly could have menaced Attica from the north, and after the Theban seizure of Oropos in 366, the threat to this quarter must have been as apparent as anywhere else along the Attic-Boiotian frontier. If, as all evidence indicates, the Dema wall was built according to a comprehensive plan of defense in a particular crisis, then that crisis could not have involved a threat from Thebes unless the defensive scheme was left incomplete.

Let us suppose for a moment that the Dema was built as part of a system that was never completed. A decision to build such a defensive


system would have to have taken into account the fact that such fortifications could not be built in one or two days to avert an immediate crisis. To build two extensive walls and related outworks would have required as much as a week.[54] A decision to build must therefore have been made under circumstances of foreseeable and persistent threats, not as a re-action to a sudden and immediate crisis. The threat of hostilities with Thebes between 369 and 338 waxed and waned from time to time but was ever present. The momentary abatement of a particular crisis never brought with it a complete sense of relief. There is no recognizable occasion during that period which could explain why a project undertaken in view of persistent dangers would be abruptly abandoned, wasting substantial investments of manpower and money. For building the Dema but not the other works required in the north would be like building only one long wall to Peiraieus—a half-finished job would be essentially useless. Although the Athenians of the mid fourth century could be accused of adopting half-hearted and inadequate measures in opposing their enemies abroad, in an undertaking as concrete and immediate as the construction of defensive works around the plain of Athens, it is hard to believe that the demos could have reversed itself, as on a whim, and aborted such a project after it was well under way.

It is indeed doubtful in the first place that the Athenians would have thought that fieldworks like the Dema wall would be an effective deter-rent to the Thebans. As has been described previously, the Dema was useful only when it was manned in strength. To mobilize forces for its defense required adequate forewarning of the approach of the enemy. But Thebes was the immediate neighbor of Athens, and the mobilization and onset of Theban forces could conceivably take place without adequate time for the full deployment of Athenian forces to their various fieldworks.[55] Moreover, the Athenians had already faced the Thebans under Epameinondas from behind such fieldworks at the Isthmus in 369, and the Thebans had succeeded in crossing them.[56] Barrier walls


like the Dema were thus not an obvious answer to the danger of a The-ban invasion of Attica. They might prove serviceable under certain circumstances, but they could not be relied upon to provide a secure cordon of defense. The numbers of Athenian hoplites and cavalry and the support of strong allies were more important deterrents. Native Athenian and Boiotian troops were more or less evenly matched in numbers, so that if one army were to invade the country of the other, it would have no overwhelming advantage unless it was supported by a large al-lied contingent.[57] Diplomacy was therefore a more important deterrent than barrier walls (as Demosthenes was fond of pointing out, Second Philippic 23-24, On the Crown 299-302). For these reasons, and because of the evident inadequacy of the defenses which actually were built, it is unlikely that the Dema was planned and constructed specifically to counteract the threat of a Theban attack.

Some of the same reasons count against the likelihood that the Dema was constructed in response to the threat posed to Attica by the forces of Macedon from the time of the battle of Chaironeia to the end of the Lamian War. The most serious objection, once again, is the fact that the Dema provided inadequate defense against a threat from the north. Further objections may be raised on historical grounds against the association of the Dema with any of the crises of 339-335 and 322.

When Philip arrived at Elateia in the autumn of 339 and the threat of invasion was suddenly brought home to the Athenians, preparations were from the first devoted to meeting him in battle as far from the frontiers of Attica as possible. Athenian infantry and cavalry were mobilized immediately and sent to Eleusis, to await there the conclusion of a treaty with the Thebans about the conduct of a joint campaign against Philip.[58] From this point on, every effort was devoted to overmastering Philip in the contest to be fought on the western frontiers of Boiotia. It is unlikely that the possibility of defeat would have been so openly admitted as to divert funds and manpower to a major wall-building project in Attica at this time.[59]

Once the Athenians were defeated at Chaironeia and defense beyond the frontiers of Attica was no longer possible, other measures were adopted for the safety of Athens. The aftermath of Chaironeia is the period in which the Dema has been placed in the study by Jones, Sackett, and Eliot, which is the most cogent attempt to date the wall offered until now. Eliot, the author of these conclusions, distinguishes two phases of the Athenian reaction to the defeat at Chaironeia:


We have seen that the Athenians engaged in work on their fortifications directly after the battle of Chaeronea in 338 B.C. and then started again in 337 B.C. The first operation was hastily done—an emergency measure—and had a single aim, the defence of the city. The second, on the other hand, was methodically organized and may well have embraced the needs of the country as well as of the city. If the Dema Wall is to be ascribed to either of these occasions, it must be to the second.[60]

The methodical fortification work of 337 was that undertaken in the spring of that year by the commissioners who, on the motion of Demosthenes, were elected by each of the ten tribes. Eliot suggests that these ten teichopoioi , of whom Demosthenes was one, were responsible for more than simply repairing the defenses of Athens and Peiraieus. He argues that they must have performed substantial work on the forts of the Attic countryside and that, conceivably, they also undertook to build the Dema wall.[61]

Beyond these circumstances, there is no further evidence adduced by Eliot in favor of this dating of the Dema, and his concluding comments serve only to emphasize the inadequacy of the wall for the purposes of stopping a Macedonian army under Philip or Alexander. This is not inappropriate to Eliot's argument, however, since he believes that archaeological evidence shows that the wall was never completed, evidently because the Athenians suddenly realized how inadequate it was. The archaeological evidence taken to indicate incompleteness, however, is to be explained by later modification and reuse of the wall (see chapter 2 and appendix II), and for reasons given above, an argument predicated on the abrupt abandonment of the project does not carry conviction, especially without a sudden emergency to explain such a change of mind. Eliot does suggest that the destruction of Thebes by Alexander in 335 "would have left few in doubt as to the weakness of such a fortification and the futility of completing it," but this event, more than two years after the commission of the teichopoioi , is hardly sudden enough to account for the abandonment of a project to close the major passes into the plain of Athens, if this in fact had been part of the work begun in 337.[62]

In looking back over this period, Demosthenes makes several allusions to the defensive measures adopted by the Athenians, but never does he hint that an attempt was made to block the ways into Attica with fortifications. Though the preparation of walls and entrenchments is


mentioned, whenever these can be identified, they are seen to be the walls and outworks of the city and Peiraieus.[63] At one point, Demosthenes characterizes the full scope of Athenian defensive measures when he declares that, though he takes pride in his work (as creator of the commission of teichopoioi and as one of their number) in building walls and digging trenches, he takes far more pride in his diplomatic achievements by which Athens was surrounded with strong allies:

Out of these I created a bulwark around Attica, so far as human calculation allows, and by these I fortified our countryside , not just the circuit of the Peiraieus and the city.[64]

By contrast with his diplomatic efforts, Demosthenes implies, the actual wall building of his commission did not serve to fortify the countryside of Attica but only to strenghten the defenses of Athens and Peiraieus. Lykourgos similarly excludes any scheme of territorial defense at this time when he states that the men who fought at Chaironeia chose to rely on their own courage to protect Attica and did not abandon the Attic countryside to the enemy by relying on walls, that is, city walls, for protection.[65] These passages make clear the dichotomy of potential Athenian responses to the advance of Philip: face him in open battle (which was done at Chaironeia) or retreat within the walls of the city (which was done after the defeat of Chaironeia). There was no intermediate step; once the effort to drive Philip back at Chaironeia had failed, there was no military measure that might protect Attica as a whole. There is there-fore no place for the Dema wall, or any other territorial defense scheme, in the Athenian defensive preparations of the 330s.

This being the case, it is even less likely that the Dema would have been developed as a response to the final crisis of the Lamian War of 323-322. Once again, the war began when the confidence of the Athenians in their army's strength abroad was high. For several months, this confidence was fully justified. The tide of battle was irreversibly turned, however, through the crushing defeat of the Athenian navy at Amorgos. This blow not only destroyed all hope of preventing a concentration of Macedonian land forces but, more important, made it impossible for


Athens to maintain its vital maritime grain supply. A blockade and eventual siege of Athens was therefore inevitable, whether or not the Athenians attempted to defend a line in their countryside, and the capitulation which was soon made to Antipater was the only possible safeguard of Athenian lives and property.[66]


We may summarize here the many and varied strands of evidence which coincide in demonstrating that the Dema wall was built in 378 B.C. Archaeological evidence for the date of the wall consists of its style of masonry and, more important, a well-dated sherd found embedded in the fill of its construction. The more precise limit established by the sherd, the Dema saltcellar, is that the wall can date no earlier than ca. 425, and much more likely after 400, within the period ca. 400-375 if the saltcellar was contemporary with the building of the wall. Masonry style is entirely in agreement with these conclusions and suggests, moreover, that the wall probably does not postdate the fourth century.

Excavation at the Dema tower adds significant confirmation to the above conclusions and probable inferences, for the tower is intelligible only if it and related towers elsewhere in Attica were built as part of the same defensive scheme as the Dema wall. Clear and abundant evidence for the reuse of the tower as a stand for beehives, somewhere in the period ca. 340-300, after the tower had fallen into ruin, indicates that the original use of the tower most likely fell within the first half of the fourth century. Two cup fragments distinctly earlier than the second-phase material at the tower indicate that a date later than ca. 375 for the first phase is unlikely. Purely archaeological criteria, therefore, narrow the range for the date of the Dema wall to ca. 425-375, with the later half of this range distinctly more likely than the earlier.

The dating thus defined by the archaeological evidence is entirely supported by the evidence of historical probability. The tactical principles embodied by the design of the wall are exemplified in the general-ship of Athenian commanders from Iphikrates to Phokion, and the most appropriate parallels for both fieldwork and tactics are associated with Chabrias in the Boiotian War. Strategically, both the wall and the tower, when associated with other towers around Athens and toward the western frontiers, make excellent sense in terms of the defensive situation contemplated by the Athenians in the spring of 378. By contrast, neither earlier nor later events so aptly suit the physical evidence. Finally, theoretical writings of the two decades following the Boiotian War prescribe


defensive measures of exactly the sort represented by the Dema wall and its outworks, making it most likely that this system in Attica and the Theban stockade built and manned by a joint Theban-Athenian force were innovations (or, more properly, refinements) that set their stamp on a generation of military theory and practice.

The cumulative evidence, deriving from a wide variety of historical and archaeological sources, is thus entirely consistent with the thesis that the Dema wall was built, and that it and related watchtowers in Attica were manned, in readiness for an attack which never came, during the periods of the Spartan campaigns across the Isthmus of Corinth from the early summer of 378 until the same season in 375. These arguments have thereby deduced a fixed chronological point for an archaeological monument, the Dema wall, and with it, the Dema tower. Other mountaintop towers in Attica can be related to the Dema defense system through both stylistic and functional considerations. The historical significance of the Dema wall can now be properly assessed, and it will be found to shed light on contemporary events from a perspective other-wise barely represented in our historical sources. The broader implications of this assessment of the function of the Dema wall for the study of fortifications in the classical world have already been outlined above in chapter 1. It will be appropriate to proceed, in chapter 5, to a thorough reappraisal of the Boiotian War, incorporating the new evidence that can now contribute to a narrative account of this episode in the history of land warfare in Greece.


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