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The Anopaia Path at Thermopylai

Paul W. Wallace
American Journal of Archaeology
Vol. 84, No. 1 (Jan., 1980), pp. 15-23
DOI: 10.2307/504391
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/504391
Page Count: 10
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The Anopaia Path at Thermopylai
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Abstract

The Battle of Thermopylai in 480 B. C. ended with the successful night march of the Persians along the secret Anopaia Path, led by the traitor Ephialtes. The Anopaia Path was the reason for the sinister reputation of Thermopylai, for the pass could always be turned if the invaders found, or were guided around, the Anopaia Path. Many students of the battle have tried to discover the route of the Anopaia Path, but in spite of much attention, the problem of the path is still not solved. Previous explorers have chosen what seemed to them to be likely routes, but they have not given enough attention to the military requirements of the route. The Anopaia Path must have been a route open and spacious enough for a body of troops to remain a body of troops throughout its march, but most of the previous routes suggested take the Persians at some point through a narrow defile. Only the Vardates route has this spacious character, but that route has usually been regarded as too long for the Persian maneuver. To test the route the author walked the route at night, as the Persians did, and found that the times at which he reached certain points matched those given by Herodotos for the Persian march. The topographical clues given by Herodotos also seem to be more appropriate for the Vardates route than any other.

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