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Sparta was a warrior civilization in ancient Greece and it functioned under an Oligarchy kind of government. Spartan philosophy was positioned on loyalty to the state and military service. It reached the height of its power after overpowering rival city-state Athens in the Peloponnesian War (431 – 404 BCE). Despite their military expertise, the Spartans’ supremacy was short-lived.
See the fact file below for more information on the Sparta or alternatively, you can download our 26-page Sparta worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Sparta, also known in ancient times as Lacedaemon, was a society of well-trained and professional warriors. They were always at war with Athens and Corinth, and figured prominently in two major battles – The Peloponnesian Wars and the Corinthian Wars. They were also mentioned in Greek Mythology as one the Greek Forces who joined the Trojan War when their king, Menelaus, started a war after Paris abducted his wife, Helen. It suffered a massive defeat at the hands of the Thebans when they lost in the Battle of Leuctra in 371 BCE, and this eventually lead to their decline.
- Around 900 BCE, Sparta was founded in the Eurotas Valley of Laconia in the southeast Peloponnese.
- In the late 800 BCE, it took control of Messenia, and its people were made to serve the Spartans. It seized its vast territory, making the polis or city state the largest in Greece. The subdued people of Laconia and Messenia became known as the perioikoi and were made to serve in the army of Sparta. There were also the helots, or the semi-enslaved farm workers, living on estates that the Spartans owned.
- In 706 BCE, Spartan hero Phalantus founded the colony of Tarentum in Magna Graecia, on the southern coast in Apulia, Italy.
- Around 700 BCE, the misunderstandings between the helots and citizens led to uprisings that added to Argos defeating Sparta at Hysiae in 669 BCE.
- In c. 545 BCE, Sparta gained revenge on Argos, but shortly thereafter, lost a battle with Tegea. It tried to broaden its horizons by creating an alliance with Lydia, through its leader, Croesus, and sent an expedition in c. 525 BCE against Polycrates of Samos.
- Around 505 BCE, due to instability in the region, a group was formed by Corinth, Tegea, Elis, and other states as they swore to have the same enemies and allies as Sparta. It was called the Peloponnesian League, which gave Sparta domination over the region. Argos was never included in this group.
- In 494 – 493 BCE, the Spartans, under the leadership of Agiad King Cleomenes I, attacked the city of Argos, which was defended by Telilla and her army of women.
- In c. 490 BCE, Leonidas becomes one of Sparta’s two kings, and in August 480 BCE, led 300 Spartans along with other allies in Athens in the Battle at Thermopylae against the Persians with Xerxes I at the helm. He and his troops tried to hold the Persians down for three days, but were ultimately defeated, and King Leonidas died in the battle.
- Around 460 to 445 BCE, Sparta’s rivalry with Athens developed into the First Peloponnesian Wars, wherein Sparta won at the Battle of Tanagra in 457 BCE. In 432 BCE, Sparta declared that Athens had overdrawn the Thirty Years’ Peace, and so, the Second Peloponnesian War broke out in 431 to 404 BCE, which involved the whole of Greece.
- In 420 BCE, Sparta was excluded from the Olympic Games for breaking the ekecheiria or sacred truce. During this period, they allowed athletes, artists, their families, and pilgrims to safely participate and attend the games, then go back afterward to their countries.
- From 396 to 387 BCE, Sparta was once again involved in the Corinthian Wars with Athens, Thebes, Corinth, and Persia, which resulted in the King’s Peace, where Sparta surrendered its empire to Persia, but dominated Greece.
- In 420 B.C.E. Sparta was excluded from the Olympic Games for breaking the ekecheiria or sacred truce, wherein this period allowed athletes, artists, their families and pilgrims to safely participate and attend the games then go back afterward to their countries.
- From 396 B.C.E. to 387 B.C.E. Sparta was once again involved in the Corinthian Wars with Athens, Thebes, Corinth and Persia, which resulted in the “King’s Peace” where Sparta surrendered its empire to Persia but dominated Greece.
- In 371 B.C.E. Sparta tried to crush Thebes but failed and lost to the great Theban general Epaminondas at the Battle of Leuctra. They were attacked by Pyrrhus in 272 B.C.E and never regained the glory they once had, instead they were forced to join the Achaean Confederacy in 195 B.C.E. and permitted to leave by the Romans in 147 B.C.E.
- The Romans improved Sparta when it became a free city, but it wasn’t for long when the city was sacked by the Visigoth King Alaric in 396 B.C.E.
Important aspects about Sparta
- Sparta’s power structure was based on Oligarchy. The state was governed by two hereditary kings of the Agiad and Eurypontid families, both were descendants of Heracles. They were equal in authority – one could not act against the power and political decisions of the other.
- Spartan society was concentrated on military training and excellence. Its citizens were tiered as Spartiates—Spartan citizens, full-time soldiers, born into or adopted by a Spartan family, and they enjoyed full rights.
- Perioikoi— free, but non-citizen inhabitants, merchants and artisans, could not own land or vote. Helots— state-owned serfs, part of the enslaved, non-Spartan, local population.
- All healthy male Spartans are obliged to join the state-sponsored education system, the Agoge, which taught obedience, endurance, courage, and self-control. They started military training at age 7. Spartan men devoted their lives to the state and it came before everything else, including their family.
- A Spartan soldier wore a huge bronze helmet, breastplate, and ankle guards, and carried a round shield made of bronze and wood, a long spear, and a sword. They were also known for their long hair and red cloaks.
- Marriage was important to Spartans. They were pressured to have male children who would grow up to become warriors. Men who delayed marriage were publicly shamed, while those who had multiple sons were rewarded.
- Spartan women were given an important role in the society – to give birth to sons. They also enjoyed status, power, and respect. They received a formal education (separate from boys), engaged in athletic competitions, including javelin throwing and wrestling, and also sang and danced competitively. In addition, they were allowed to own and manage property.
- Sparta was not always focused on military services – they also produced some great poets, Alcman and Tyrtaeus. Alcman was known for his light, uplifting festival poems while Tyrtaeus wrote military lyric poems and songs.
- Spartan pottery and ivory work were of high-quality. Pottery from Laconia (the main region of Sparta) showed excellent artistry and beauty. Laconian pottery was not only found in and around Sparta, but in countries throughout the world at that time.
- Spartan bronze products were viewed as valuable diplomatic gifts because of its excellent quality.
- Spartan currency consisted of iron bars, thus making stealing and foreign trade very difficult while also discouraging the accretion of riches.
- The religion in Sparta was Polytheism. They believed in not just one God, but many Gods. The primary Gods in ancient Greece were the Olympians lead by the mighty Zeus.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Sparta across 26 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Sparta worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Sparta which was a warrior civilization in ancient Greece and it functioned under an Oligarchy kind of government. Spartan philosophy was positioned on loyalty to the state and military service. It reached the height of its power after overpowering rival city-state Athens in the Peloponnesian War (431 – 404 BCE). Despite their military expertise, the Spartans’ supremacy was short-lived.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Sparta Facts
- This is Sparta!
- Discovering Sparta
- I am the Warrior!
- Let’s make History!
- Identify the Social Hierarchy
- The Spartan Soldier
- Art Match
- Women Empowerment
- Analyze and Discuss
- Strong Defense
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Link will appear as Sparta Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, November 7, 2018
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.