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Site of the Menelaion, the ancient shrine to Helen and Menelaus constructed in the Bronze Age city that stood on the hill of Therapne on the left bank of the Eurotas River overlooking the future site of Dorian Sparta.
Across the valley the successive ridges of Mount Taygetus are in evidence.
Around 650 BC, it rose to become the dominant military land-power in ancient Greece.Given its military pre-eminence, Sparta was recognized as the overall leader of the combined Greek forces during the Greco-Persian Wars.Its inhabitants were classified as Spartiates (Spartan citizens, who enjoyed full rights), mothakes (non-Spartan free men raised as Spartans), perioikoi (freedmen), and helots (state-owned serfs, enslaved non-Spartan local population).Spartiates underwent the rigorous agoge training and education regimen, and Spartan phalanges were widely considered to be among the best in battle.Spartan women enjoyed considerably more rights and equality to men than elsewhere in the classical world.
Sparta was the subject of fascination in its own day, as well as in the West following the revival of classical learning.