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amphictyony

in ancient Greece, association of neighbouring states formed around a religious centre. The most important was the Amphictyonic League (Delphic Amphictyony). Originally composed of 12 tribes dwelling around Thermopylae, the league was centred first on the shrine of Demeter and later became associated with the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. Member states sent two kinds of deputies (pylagorai and hieromnemones) to a council (pylaia) that met twice a year and administered the temporal affairs of the shrines and their properties, supervised the treasury, and conducted the Pythian Games. In the 4th century BC the league rebuilt the Delphic temple. Although primarily religious, the league exercised a political influence through its membership oath, forbidding destruction of member cities or the cutting off of water supplies; the hieromnemones could punish offenders and even proclaim a sacred war against them. Other important amphictyonies were the Delian and, in the Archaic period, the Calaurian (composed of states around the Saronic Gulf).

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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