The state of Sparta was founded by
the people called the Dorians in the 10th century BC Sparta was in the
Laconia, a province of southern Greece. Sparta was located on the peninsula
of Peloponnesus Between c.740-720 BC the Spartans conquered the state of
Messenia which was on itís western border. This made Sparta one
of the largest Greek states. It had enough fertile land to grow enough
food for the state.
During the Archaic period the Spartans were trading with other Greek states. They imported other luxury goods from all over. They had skilled craftsmen who had fine metal wear and painted vases. The Spartans were believed to play an important role in Greek music.
The Spartans fell under attack from 630 BC for 17 more long years. This made the Spartans realize they had to make drastic changes to defend themselves. Under these changes Spartan men had to become warriors and spend their life training and fighting. Their lives were hard and uncomfortable. They had as little contact with the outside world as possible. Sparta had become the strongest military power in Greece by the Classical Period, but because they spent all their time fighting they had no philosophers or artists, so there was little cultural development.
Only men who were born a Spartan could become a citizen and they would never let any outsiders in. They served in the army and could vote in an assembly only Spartan men.
Men who were not citizens were known as Perioikoi which meant neighbors and they lived in separate small villages. The freemen could trade and serve in the army. Descendants of Spartaís original inhabitants were known as Helots. They farmed their land and had to give some of their harvests to their Spartan masters.
Sparta had 2 kings who rules together. Their main purpose was to lead in war, but when at home, their power was limited to religious duties. More power laid with the 5 ephors who were overseers and were annually elected by the Assembly. They looked after the running state. The gerousia, or council and was made up of 2 kings and 28 councilors. Councilors were men over 60 who were elected for life by the Assembly. They made laws and served as judges. The Councilís proposals were passed by the apella, or Assembly. These were citizens who were over 30. They shouted Yes, or No towards ideas or laws and the party whoís opinion was called was the loudest, won. This was how they voted.
Physical fitness was very important so babies could grow into soldiers. If a baby had signs of weakness it would be thrown outside to die. A boy was educated by the state until age 20. Then he had to join the army. He was elected into a military club and conditions were very harsh. Soldiers were given land and helots. This left him free to pursue his military career. This helped support his family. Spartan men didnít marry until they were 30. They occasionally visited their wives, if they had any. Old men were allowed to live with their wives in their own home. Spartan woman had to stay in shape to give birth to strong healthy babies who would grow up to be soldiers. They usually competed in athletic events and some Spartan men found this strange. Foreigners werenít allowed into Sparta . Only the periokoi, who looked after trade, had made contact with foreigners. Spartans didnít use coins, but bartered for goods.
Physical Fitness was very important in Spartan schooling. The most important subjects were Athletics, Dancing, Weapon Training, Music, and poetry. The Academic subjects werenít as important. The Spartan aim was to make tough healthy adults who could become warriors and a warriors mother.