Site in Athens revealed as an ancient temple of twin gods Apollo and Artemis

Site in Athens revealed as an ancient temple of twin gods Apollo and Artemis

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In 2015, an ancient well was uncovered in Kerameikos in central Athens, Greece, with inscriptions calling upon Apollo, the Greek god of prophecy. Archaeologists speculate that Kerameikos seers used the well to try to foretell the future using hydromancy rituals.

It is the first known place in Athens where Apollo was invoked to divine the future, in this case by consulting the waters to see if the god would deliver messages or visions in them. (“Hydro” means water and “mancy” means divination or prophet). The archaeological team working at the site, from the German Archaeological Institute, says the oracle (a shrine consecrated to the worship and consultation of a prophetic deity) was in use in early Roman times.

“The finding is exceptionally significant as it identifies the spot as the first and unique Apollo divination site in Athens, confirming the worshipping of the ancient god along with his sister Artemis and restoring the accurate interpretation of the site as a shrine rendered by K. Mylonas in the late 19th century to a third goddess, Hecate,” says the Archaeology News Network .

The wall of the well has the phrase: ΕΛΘΕ ΜΟΙ Ω ΠΑΙΑΝ ΦΕΡΩΝ ΤΟ ΜΑΝΤΕΙΟΝ ΑΛΗΘΕC, which means 'Come to me, Paean [a common epithet refering to Apollo], and bring the truthful prophecy.’ The site has 20 inscriptions with the same content, which reveals the place as the only oracle of Apollo in Athens where he was worshipped along with Artemis, a goddess of the wilds, chastity and girls.

Apollo and Artemis on a Greek cup from about 470 BC. Apollo, who was the Archer, is on the left. Artemis, the huntress, is shown with the bow. ( Wikimedia Commons )

The name of the site, Kerameikos, comes from the Greek word for pottery or ‘ceramics’. It was a settlement of potters, vase painters, and other people connected with creating the famous Attic vases. An ancient agora and the remnant’s of Plato’s Academy are also located nearby. Moreover, it was a location of the most important cemetery of ancient Athens. The oldest tombs come from the Early Bronze Age (2700-2000 BC). The uncovering of the well and apparent shrine to Apollo and Artemis from the Roman era shed new light on the full significance of the site.

Archaeologists also researched a 2,500-year-old bathhouse at the site in 2016. The bath served the citizens of Athens and travelers visiting the city. The researchers believe that it is the spa mentioned by the Greek rhetorician Isaios and referred to by Aristophanes. It was in use between the 5th and the 3rd centuries BC. It was often used by the students of Plato's Academy and the local craftsmen.

The worship of the god and goddess together at the same site seems to point to a yin and yang type of dichotomy: Apollo, famous for his pursuit of nymphs, was worshiped as the protector of domestic flocks and herds and the patron of the founding of colonies and cities. While Artemis, who protected girls, seems to recall an earlier time as the goddess of hunting and nature.

A 5 th century BC funerary stele with griffins and other figures from Kerameikos cemetery (Photo by Marsyas/ Wikimedia Commons )

The book The Goddess Within quotes A History of Greek Religion: “ Artemis was the most popular goddess of Greece, but the Artemis of popular belief was quite a different person from the proud virgin of mythology, Apollo’s sister. Artemis is the goddess of wild Nature, she haunts the woods, the groves, the luscious meadows. A favorite subject of archaic art is the figure formerly called ‘the Persian Artemis,’ now the ‘Mistress of Animals,’ a woman holding in her hands four-footed animals or birds of different kinds.”

While the site of Kerameikos is the only known oracle to Apollo in Athens, he had other oracles, including at Delphi on Mount Paranassus, where he slew the Python that protected the place, which had been considered magical from great antiquity.

At Delphi, a Pythia or priestess , first young virgins and later crones, would repeat prophecies or oracles Apollo revealed to her. This was a different kind of oracle than the one at Kerameikos, which involved water.

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“Priestess of Delphi”, by John Collier. Photo source: Wikimedia.

The Facts on File Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend says Apollo was sometimes called Loxias, which means crooked or ambiguous, because his prophecies were hard to understand. However, Plutarch seems to contradict this in his work Moralia:

The prophetic priestesses are moved [by the god] each in accordance with her natural faculties. As a matter of fact, the voice is not that of a god, nor the utterance of it, nor the diction, nor the meter, but all these are the woman's; he [Apollo] puts into her mind only the visions, and creates a light in her soul in regard to the future; for inspiration is precisely this.

In an article titled “The Delphic Oracle” at the Theosophical Society’s website, Eloise Hart writes that the oracles were unusually clear and direct. And other websites that recount some of the prophecies showed how they came true, though modern people may ask whether historical events were later attributed to an earlier Pythia. The Delphic injuction “Know Thyself” was carved into the lintel of Apollo’s temple at Delphi. Could there be a pithier (Pythia) admonition?

Hydromancy, as opposed to the serpent oracle, involved reading the movements, flows and changes in water as well as the visions that a seer might see in them. Similarly, when fortunetellers gaze into crystals they may see visions, ghosts or future events.

Ephesus is located near the western shores of modern-day Turkey, where the Aegean Sea meets the former estuary of the River Kaystros, about 80 kilometers south of Izmir, Turkey.

According to legend, the Ionian prince Androclos founded Ephesus in the eleventh century B.C. The legend says that as Androclos searched for a new Greek settlement, he turned to the Delphi oracles for guidance. The oracles told him a boar and a fish would show him the new location.

One day, as Androclos was frying fish over an open fire, a fish flopped out of the frying pan and landed in the nearby bushes. A spark ignited the bushes and a wild boar ran out. Recalling the oracles’ wisdom, Androclos built his new settlement where the bushes stood and called it Ephesus.

Another legend says Ephesus was founded by the Amazons, a tribe of female warriors, and that the city was named after their queen, Ephesia.

'Magic' dismembered chicken jar found in Athens

Archaeologists supervising an excavation at an ancient Athens dig site have revealed they found a "magic" curse jar containing a dismembered chicken over 2300-years-old.

Authorities published a paper confirming the jar was likely part of an ancient curse to paralyse and kill 55 people.

The jar was found, along with a coin, underneath the floor of the Agora's Classical Commercial Building which was commonly used by ancient craftspeople at the time the jar was buried.

In a paper published in the Hesperia journal, Yale University professor Jessica Lamont said the pot "contained the dismembered head and lower limbs of a young chicken".

"Exterior surfaces of the jar were originally covered with text," Professor Lamont wrote.

"It once carried over 55 inscribed names, dozens of which are now only scattered, floating letters or faint stylus strokes."

Professor Lamont said a large iron nail was also found gouged into the jar - something that was part of the original curse procedure, along with the dismembered chicken parts.

Professor Lamont said the chicken was less than a year old when it was sacrificed and this may have meant whoever placed the curse wanted to transfer the chicken's "helplessness" and "inability to protect itself" onto the people whose names were inscribed on the jar.

Professor Lamont said by twisting the chicken's head off and piercing the head and lower legs, the cursers wanted to incapacitate their victims.

She said there was at least two people's writing on the jar and whoever did the curse "had a good knowledge of how to perform that kind of magic".

Professor Lamont speculated that because of the number of names on the jar, the curse may have been motivated by a legal dispute as trials were common at the time and they may have wanted to "snuff out" witnesses, families and supporters of those against them.

The Odd Temple

The Temple of Epicurius Apollo has certain architectural features that are unique it exhibits a combination of archaic and innovative elements, not randomly assorted to produce architectural art, but rather with a profound intention to represent the Divine. Indeed, this peculiarity would classify it as the first large scale sculptural work of art in human history to represent an abstract concept.

The Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae, east colonnade, Arcadia, Greece © Carole Raddato

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites Richard Stillwell, William L. MacDonald, Marian Holland McAllister, Stillwell, Richard, MacDonald, William L., McAlister, Marian Holland, Ed.

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ATHENS Attica, Greece.

The earliest inhabitants settled on the Acropolis and in the surrounding area in Neolithic times. From then on and up to the time of Theseus the most ancient city included, besides the Acropolis, a large area to the S of it. In that first period the city seems to have had no particular distinction, but to have developed equally with the other kingdoms of Attica. The great expansion of Athens is due to Theseus, who brought about the unification of all the small kingdoms and founded the city state of Athens. In memory of this unification, called the Synoecism, a special festival, the Synoikia, was inaugurated and at the same time, the Panathenaia, in honor of the patron of the city, the goddess Athena.

Tradition has it that during the Dorian invasion the city was saved by the self-sacrifice of King Kodros, who brought about his own death at the hands of the enemy so as to carry out an oracle according to which the city would be saved by the death of the king. The Athenians, in honor of his great sacrifice, ended the custom of kingship since they believed there could be no worthy successor to Kodros. During all the long Geometric period (1050-700 B.C.) the city of Athens continued to increase, new settlements were founded, and the city kept growing towards its peak and highest prosperity. In Athens as in other cities of Greece, aristocratic government succeeded to monarchy. At first the principal magistrate (archon) kept control for a period of ten years. Even after the archonship was made a yearly office, beginning in 683-682 B.C., the aristocracy continued to have great strength since it owned the greater part of the land and held all political power in its hands. The eupatrid, Kylon, exploiting the dissatisfaction of the farmers and other citizens, attempted a revolution in 636 or 632 with the aim of becoming tyrant, but the attempt failed.

The Athenians continued their struggles, demanding basically the franchise and the recording of the laws. In 624 B.C. Draco drew up a new system of law and codified the ancient, predominantly criminal, body of laws. But the citizens were still not content and unrest continued until the beginning of the 6th c. B.C. In 594 B.C. the warring parties agreed on the choice of Solon, a man trusted by all, to reform the state and the laws. The emergence of Solon ended a stage in the history of Athens. He was particularly honored by the Athenians for his advice concerning the acquisition of Salamis, and the consequent reduction of the power of Megara. Another success of his was the final union of Eleusis with Athens, and the astonishing increase in the might and authority and influence of Athens. After his election as archon in 594-593 B.C. Solon established a new body of law with radical changes. He brought about the abolition of agrarian debts, the liberation of those enslaved because of debt, and the foundation of the Heliaia and other popular courts. At the same time he established a new council of 400, the boule, composed of 100 members from each of Athens' four tribes, and achieved the inclusion of the Thetes, the lowest, neglected rank of citizens, into the ekklesia of the people.

In spite of all this development of the state, inner peace was not secured, and in 561 B.C. Peisistratos set up a tyranny. Although he retained the basic elements of Solon's law code he instituted his own ideas as well. The tyranny of Peisistratos and his successors lasted until 510 B.C. Through the whole period, in spite of the Athenians' dissatisfaction, a series of measures improved the city's progress through notable advances in spiritual, artistic, architectural, and commercial matters. In 508 B.C., Kleisthenes made a series of radical changes which resulted in the establishment of the Athenian democracy. The most important of these was the division of the population into 10 tribes. With the new division, the membership of the boule was increased to 500, 50 from each tribe. The boule prepared drafts of the laws which were debated and ratified by the ekklesia, which had become the sovereign body. With all these innovations the Athenians reached such a peak of spirit and idealism that their few repulsed the great Persian assault, and so brought about the victories of Marathon (490 B.C.) and later of Salamis (480 B.C.). Immediately after the victory the provident Themistokles had a new wall built around the ruined city, and he completed the fortification of the Peiraeus which he had chiefly been responsible for initiating when he was archon in 493-492 B.C. because he understood its particular importance for the development of Athenian naval power. The completion of his plan was brought about shortly afterwards with the building of the Long Walls.

Fortification was not the only concern of the Athenians. In 478 B.C. Kimon instituted the first Athenian Confederacy and the Athenian state was revealed as a great power. At the same time, about mid 5th c. B.C., under Perikles and a staff of inspired artists, the masterworks of the classical age were created on the Acropolis, in the lower city, and in the principal demes of Attica. These, along with philosophy, letters, and other kinds of intellectual manifestations, created the Golden Age. The catastrophic disasters of the Peloponnesian War and the cruelties exhibited during both phases of it, exhausted the city and its people.

The appearance of the Macedonians and the defeat of the Athenians in the battle of Chaironeia in 338 B.C. brought about a great reaction in the Athenians, since they realized they had lost the leadership of the Greek world. Athens experienced a temporary revival of influence during the administration of the orator Lykourgos (338-326 B.C.). The Lamian War in 322 B.C. brought new disaster to Athens since its unexpected result was a change of regime, installation of a Macedonian garrison, and the destruction of the commercial fleet. The appearance of Roman conquerors also brought disastrous consequences to Athens. In 86 B.C. the Athenians revolted to obtain their freedom, but the conquest of the city by Sulla was the result. The walls of the city and of Peiraeus were demolished by the victorious Roman general who sought in this way the diminution of Athens' power.

In the Imperial period the city enjoyed a certain amount of freedom and was enriched with grandiose new buildings and temples. But in A.D. 267, in spite of Valerian's fortification of the city, Athens suffered a fearful devastation by the Herulians. In the 5th c. A.D. much energy was put into the reconstruction of the city, which for all its vicissitudes remained an important intellectual center. The philosophical schools, which were known throughout the Greek world, practiced until A.D. 529 when a strict order issued by Justinian closed their doors. The closing of the schools put an end to the city's community spirit and to its ancient glory, but it continued as the capital of an eparchy in the great Byzantine Empire until 1204. There followed the occupation of the city by the Franks until 1456 and then the Turkish occupation until 1821, when, after a harsh struggle, the Greeks gained their freedom. The city of Athens in 1833 was proclaimed capital of the new Greek state.


The Fortifications

After the destruction of the city by the Persians in 480-479 B.C., the so-called Themistoklean wall was built, which enclosed an area said to be much greater than that contained by the older wall. Within this new wall were included the Eridanos and the Olympieion, as well as the whole extent of the Pnyx, from the Hill of the Muses to that of the Nymphs. The gates, in order from the W side of the wall were: the Demian (“executioner's”) Gate the Peiraeus Gate the Sacred Gate the Thriasian Gate (Dipylon) the Eria (“funeral”) Gate the Acharnian Gate the North Gate the Gate of Diochares the Hippades (“cavalry”) Gate the Diomeian Gate the Itonian Gate the Halade (“seaward”) Gate the South Gate. The Themistoklean wall was destroyed by the Lakedaimonians in 404 B.C. and was rebuilt by Konon in 394 B.C. In about mid 4th c. B.C., around the whole lower section of the city, from the base of the Hill of the Nymphs to that of the Hill of the Muses, a second wall, the proteichisma, was built outside the main one, and a deep ditch dug in front of that. At the same time a cross wall was built along the spine of the Pnyx hill, between the two peaks, by which the city was diminished in size.

After Sulla broke down the wall in 86 B.C. the city remained unwalled until the time of Valerian (A.D. 253-260). He rebuilt the wall and included in it as well the new city which had been built by Hadrian. For greater security he changed the Acropolis into a fort, as it had been before. After the great Herulian destruction of A.D. 267 a small circuit was built to the N of the Acropolis, known as the Late Roman wall. The outer ancient circuit, which appears to have been preserved and which was repaired in Justinian's time, was in use through the whole Byzantine period until A.D. 1204.

The Acropolis

In the period from 490 to 480 B.C. the Acropolis was still surrounded by the Pelargikon wall, but this had lost its defensive role. In 485 B.C. a new propylon had replaced the old entrance, and near the Altar of Athena Nike a small poros temple was built. The Hekatompedon was torn down and in its place the first marble Parthenon was begun. This was in a half-finished state when the Acropolis was razed by the Persians in 480 B.C. A new program for rebuilding the temples and other buildings which had been destroyed was started in 448 B.C. after the signing of Kallias' Peace Treaty with the Persians at Susa. Among the first works on the Acropolis was the construction of strong retaining walls, partly to level the area, but chiefly to enlarge the area of the Acropolis. Then followed monuments which still remain today in a remarkable state of preservation: the Parthenon in 447-438 B.C., the Propylaia in 437-432, the Erechtheion in 421-406, the Temple of Brauronian Artemis, the Chalkotheke, and other small temples and altars.

In Hellenistic and Roman times only minor buildings were constructed on the Acropolis. Immediately after 27 B.C. the Erechtheion was repaired and a circular temple of Rome and Augustus was built to the E of the Parthenon. The temples of the Acropolis remained virtually untouched through the whole mediaeval period, save for their conversion to Christian churches. Their destruction and demolition began in the middle of the 17th c. A.D. and continued until the Greek War of Independence.

Around the Acropolis

Besides the Peripatos, the street of the Tripods surrounded the Acropolis. This started at the Prytaneion and ended in front of the propylon of the Shrine of Dionysos Eleuthereus. Along this were numerous choregic monuments, of which many bases have been found, and one of which, the monument of Lysikrates (335-334 B.C.), is nearly intact. The Prytaneion was in the Agora of Theseus, where the street of the Tripods branches off from the Panathenaic Way. Near this spot the Eleusinion was built around the middle of the 6th c. B.C.



From the destruction of the city in 480-479 B.C. by the Persians to the end of the 4th c. B.C., the old buildings were repaired and new ones built as well. On the W side were built the Stoa of Zeus Eleutherios in 430 B.C., the Temple of Zeus Phratrios and Athena Phratria, a new Temple of Apollo Patroos, the new Bouleuterion around the end of the 5th c., the Tholos in 465 B.C. and the Strategeion. Around the middle of the 4th c. B.C. the monument to the Eponymous Heroes was built, and on top of the Agora hill (Kolonos Agoraios) the Temple of Hephaistos (449-444 B.C.) which has remained virtually intact until now. On the S side of the Agora ca. the end of the 5th c. B.C. the Southwest Fountain-house, the South Stoa I, and the mint (Argyrokopeion) were built. On the E side was the square peristyle, built over the ruins of a law court in the beginning of the 4th c. B.C. Finally, on the N side were a number of buildings of the 5th c. whose purpose is unknown, and in the unexcavated section of this side must be the Stoa of the Herms and the Stoa Poikile. In Hellenistic times a large building of unknown purpose was built on the Agora hill, to the N of the Temple of Hephaistos. North of this, at the base of the hill was a Temple of Aphrodite Ourania and from 177-176 B.C. the Altar of Aphrodite Ourania, the Demos, and the Graces.

Around the middle of the 2d c. B.C. considerable changes were made in the Agora square, which now took on a regular form on account of the building of large stoas and other buildings around it. On the W side the Metroon was built on the site of the old Bouleuterion, on the S side the South Stoa II the whole of the E side was taken up by the Stoa of Attalos (159-138 B.C.) which was rebuilt in 1956. In front and in the middle of this was the monument of the donor and in front of that the bema (speaker's platform) of the Agora. In the square, the so-called Middle Stoa, which divided the Agora in two sections, was built parallel to the South Stoa II, 32 m away. In a few years the S section 50 formed was bounded at the E by the E building.

In Roman times the Agora was enriched with new buildings and monuments. To the N of the Middle Stoa the Odeion of Agrippa was built around 15 B.C., while in the other section of the square several temples were built from parts of older Attic temples that had been destroyed by Sulla in 86 B.C. Thus, the Temple of Ares which had been built in the deme of Acharne in 440-436 B.C. was dismantled and moved to the NW corner of the Agora in 12 B.C. and there re-erected. Other temples were built with the architectural members of the Temple of Demeter from Thorikos and of the Temple of Athena from Sounion. Later on, around A.D. 100, the Library of Pantainos was built to the S of the Stoa of Attalos and around the middle of the 2d c. A.D., the NE Stoa. A colossal Nymphaion took the place of the mint building, and in Hadrian's period a large basilica was built next to the Stoa of Attalos in the N side of the Agora, with a circular fountain in front of it.

Besides the Agora area where the political and religious life of the city went on, there was also a large stretch of public land to the E of the Stoa of Attalos where there were markets and public buildings such as the Andronikos of Kyrrhos (Tower of the Winds) from the middle of the 1st c. B.C., the so-called Agoranomeion, the Roman Agora (29-9 B.C.), the library of Hadrian and the common Shrine of All the Gods which was also built in the time of Hadrian. Somewhere in this vicinity, to the E of the Roman Agora, must be the Diogeneion and the Gymnasium of Ptolemy. According to the literary evidence the Theseion ought to be close by, probably just S of the Roman Agora, in a place corresponding to the very center of the city.

Almost all of the Agora buildings were destroyed in A.D. 267 by the Herulians. In A.D. 400 the Gymnasium of the Giants and other smaller buildings filled the Agora Square.

The Pnyx

The Ilissos District

According to Pausanias ( 1.18.8 ) the first temple to Olympian Zeus was erected by Deukalion. Over this Peisistratos the Younger laid the foundations of a large poros Doric temple but never finished it. This temple was to have had not only the same dimensions but also the same general appearance as the Hellenistic-Roman temple. In 174 B.C. Antiochos Epiphanes started the construction of a marble Corinthian temple which was finished in A.D. 131-132 under Hadrian. At the same time a great peribolos wall was built around the temple and in its NW corner is still preserved the gate in honor of Hadrian which set the boundary between the old city and the new one founded by Hadrian.

Within the Themistoklean wall and to the S of the Olympieion the following buildings have been discovered: the poros Temple of Apollo Delphinios (450 B.C.) which, according to tradition, was built on the site of a very ancient temple, the court of the Delphinion which is dated to 500 B.C., the Temple of Kronos and Rhea from the period of the Antonines, and the Panhellenion (A.D. 131/2). Next to the wall of the city, but outside it, should be the site of the Pythion, according to a number of relevant inscriptions which have been discovered. A small stoa SW of the Olympieion dating to the mid 6th c. B.C. must be identified as the court of the Palladion. To the S of it the discovery of an ancient boundary stone in situ confirms the site of the Shrine of Kodros, Neleus, and Basile, and associated with this and in front of it (according to the inscription IG I 2 94), the Sanctuary of Dionysos in the Marshes.

On the other bank of the Ilissos, near the Church of St. Photini, is the site of Kynosarges, where the ruins of the Gymnasium, built in A.D. 134 by Hadrian, were found. The little mid 5th c. B.C. Ionic temple of the Ilissos now vanished should be attributed to Artemis Agrotera, and the ruins which have been discovered next to the Ilisos, to the Metroon in the Fields. Somewhat to the N, in the hollow between the hills by the Ilissos river, the first stadium was built by Lykourgos. On the same site Herodes Atticus built the new Stadium in A.D. 143-44. This was restored in 1896 for the holding of the first Olympic Games. North of this was the site of the Shrine of Herakles Pankrates, and between the Ilissos and the E side of the city was the Gymnasium of the Lykeion and the Gardens of Theophrastos.

The Kerameikos

Outside the walls, in the Outer Kerameikos was the main city cemetery. The earliest graves dated to the Submycenaean and Protogeometric periods, but burials in this area, which lies along the banks of the Eridanos River, continued until Late Roman Imperial times. Besides the graves of private persons, this cemetery also held public graves in the so-called state burial ground, where notable Athenians and those killed in war were buried. The private graves were ranged along the Sacred Way, which started at the Sacred Gate and went to Eleusis. They also lined the road to Peiraeus. The peribolos of the Temple of Tritopatres was located at the junction of these roads. The public graves were on both sides of the 39 m wide road that led from the Dipylon Gate to the Academy of Plato. On the left side of the road, at a distance of 250 m from the Dipylon was the site of the Temple of Artemis Ariste and Kalliste. Pausanias ( 1.29.4 ) lists the graves of notable men and men fallen in war from this point to the entrance of the Academy.

The entrance to the Academy was about 1500 m from the Dipylon Gate, and had various shrines and altars around it, but none of their sites has been determined. The Gymnasium of the Academy was founded by Peisistratos and was surrounded by a wall under Hipparchos. A large gymnasium dating to the end of the Hellenistic period and a square peristyle of the 4th c. B.C. have been uncovered in the Academy grounds.

Archaeological Areas and Museums


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Greek Mythology

God of: Music, poetry, light, prophecy, and medicine
Symbols: Lyre, bow and arrow, raven, laurel
Parents: Zeus and Leto
Children: Asclepius, Troilus, Orpheus
Spouse: none
Abode: Mount Olympus
Roman name: Apollo

Apollo is the Greek god of music, poetry, light, prophecy, and medicine. He is one of the Twelve Olympian gods who live on Mount Olympus. Artemis, the Greek goddess of hunting, is his twin sister. He was the patron god of the city of Delphi.

How was Apollo usually pictured?

Apollo was pictured as a handsome athletic youth with curly hair. He usually had a laurel wreath about his head that he wore in honor of his love for Daphne. Sometimes he was shown holding a bow and arrow or a lyre. When traveling, Apollo rode a chariot pulled by swans.

What special powers and skills did he have?

Like all the Olympian gods, Apollo was an immortal and powerful god. He had many special powers including the ability to see into the future and power over light. He could also heal people or bring illness and disease. When in battle, Apollo was deadly with the bow and arrow.

When the Titan goddess Leto became pregnant by Zeus, Zeus' wife Hera became very angry. Hera placed a curse on Leto that prevented her from having her babies (she was pregnant with twins) anywhere on the earth. Leto eventually found the secret floating island of Delos, where she had the twins Artemis and Apollo.

In order to keep Apollo safe from Hera, he was fed nectar and ambrosia after being born. This helped him to grow to a full-size god in one day. Apollo didn't mess around once he was grown. Only a few days later he fought a dragon named Python at Delphi. Hera had sent the dragon to hunt down and kill Leto and her children. Apollo slew the dragon with magical arrows he got from Hephaestus, the god of blacksmiths.

After defeating the Python, Apollo became the patron god of the city of Delphi. Since he was the god of prophecy, he established the Oracle of Delphi to tell the future to his followers. People in the Greek world would travel long distances to visit Delphi and hear their future from the oracle. The oracle also played a major role in many Greek plays and stories about the Greek gods and heroes.

During the Trojan War, Apollo fought on the side of Troy. At one point, he sent diseased arrows into the Greek camp making many of the Greek soldiers sick and weak. Later, after the Greek hero Achilles defeated the Trojan Hector, Apollo guided the arrow that struck Achilles in the heel and killed him.

Daphne and the Laurel Tree

One day Apollo insulted Eros, the god of love. Eros decided to get his revenge by shooting Apollo with a golden arrow causing him to fall in love with the nymph Daphne. At the same time, Eros shot Daphne with a lead arrow to cause her to reject Apollo. As Apollo chased Daphne through the woods, she called out to her father to save her. Her father then changed her into a laurel tree. From that day forward, the laurel tree became sacred to Apollo.

Site in Athens revealed as an ancient temple of twin gods Apollo and Artemis - History

In the Hellenistic and Roman periods, many elaborate dedications were set up on the Acropolis by foreign (non-Athenian) rulers, general, and statesmen. While still functioning as a religious center, the Acropolis, in a sense, became a kind of "museum" or "theater of memory" linking the "glory days" of Athens with the new powers of the Hellenistic and, later, Roman world. In 267 A.D. Athens was invaded and partially destroyed by the Heruli from northern Europe. In the aftermath, a new fortification wall was built around the city, running from the Acropolis north to the Library of Hadrian, east for a few hundred meters, and then finally back south towards the North and East Slopes of the Acropolis. (The course of this "Post-Herulian" or Late Roman fortification wall is not completely known on the eastern side, and it is likely that they included part of the South Slope of the Acropolis as well). The Acropolis once again became an important citadel, and the western appoach was strengthened by a new gateway (the so-called Beulé Gate, named after an early archaeologist). The new circuit also secured an important source of water, the Klepsydra, within the fortifications of the Acropolis. Throughout late antiquity and the Middle Age up until the liberation of Greece from the Ottoman Empire in the early 19th century, the Acropolis remained a strategic and well-defended citadel.

Archaeological excavations, and the necessary conservation, study, and publication of the monuments, were begun in the 1830's soon after Greek indepedence, and continue to the present day.

Sanctuary of Apollo, Amyclae, Sparta

The site was first excavated by a Greek archaeologist in 1980. The remaining archaeological evidence from the site includes the retaining walls, circuit walls, evidence of foundations dating to various periods, and a circular altar.
The retaining walls around the sanctuary were made of local conglomerate stone, and are architecturally designed to work with the steep slopes of the hill. The precinct indicates that there have been extensions and repairs made to it, as well as general measures of maintenance carried out during the Roman and Byzantine periods.

Found at the site is also archaeological evidence of the Throne of Apollo Amyklaios by Archaic artist Bathykles (Vathykli?) from Asia Minor. A stoa-like building enclosed a colossal statue of Apollo on three sides and was decorated with reliefs. The tomb of Hyacinthus is used as a statue base, combining the two local deities together. The statue is thought to have been erected around the 7th or early 6th century BC, with the throne/temple complex being created around it in the later 6th century.
The only remaining part of the throne is the foundation, four metres long and one metre high.

According to Pausanias (the only real description of the throne complex that we have) the colossal statue was approximately 14 metres high and made of wood lined with bronze plates. A votive bas-relief from the Classical period found in Amyclae and a few coin depictions give us a general image of the statue.

The circular altar is dated to the second monumental phase of the sanctuary. During a restoration project in 2009 part of the altar was reconstructed, indicating its size to be about 8 metres wide and 4 metres high.


Amyclae was founded by Amyclas of Sparta, son of the mythical king Lacedaemon.
Within the Sanctuary of Apollo Amyklaios, the tomb of Hyacinthus, the youngest son of Amyclas and local god of vegetation, stands as a pedestal for the colossal statue of Apollo.
At the sanctuary, the cults of Hyacinthus and Apollo are combined, and celebrated in the annual festival that took place at the Sanctuary the Hyacinthia.

Ritual Activity

The most important Spartan festival, the Hyacinthia, took place at Amyclae. The festival merged the cults of Apollo and Hyacinthus, which represent respectively Doric Sparta and the population of Amyclae and the political reconciliation between them.
The Hyacinthia was celebrated for three days every year - the first day was a designated day of bereavement and sacrifice to Hyacinthus. On the second day a procession was lead from Sparta to Amyclae, where the people partaking in the festival would stay temporarily at the sanctuary in tents. This procession seems to represent the common aspect of festivals initiation, in which the interests of Apollo focused upon the younger generation and their prosperous passage into adult life and society.

'at the Hyacinthia, before the sacrifice to Apollo, they devote offerings to Hyacinthus as to a hero into this altar through a bronze door, which is on the left of the altar'
- Pausanias, 3.19.3

The retaining walls of the sanctuary marked out a large area around the throne and statue that meant it could facilitate the cult celebrations.

Rules and Regulations

note here any rules and regulations relating to sanctuary use that have been found inscribed in and around the site.

Other Activities

Pausanias notes that there is a statue of a victor of the pentathlon, Aenetus, as well as a number of bronze tripods, of which the older ones are said to be a tithe of Messenian War. Under some of the tripods stand images of other deities such as Aphrodite and Artemis.
According to Pausanias, on the completion of the throne Bathykles dedicated Graces and an image of Artemis Leucophryene.
Foundations of buildings have been found at the sanctuary that date to the later periods of the 4th and 5th centuries AD. It is also speculated that later on during the Byzantine period chamber tombs and pit graves were included in parts of the hill.

Historical Significance

Shortly before the first Messenian War in the 8th century BC the town was conquered by the Spartans (Pausanias 3.2.6). In Maurius Servius Honoratus' Commentary on Virgil from around the 4th and 5th centuries, a story is told that the people of Amyclae had become so paranoid by frequent false reports of invasions, that it was forbidden for anyone to mention it again. This meant that when the Spartan's did eventually invade, no one dared to announce the attack and so 'Amyclae perished through silence'. (Serv. ad Virg. Aen. 10)
The Spartans destroyed the fortifications and moved the majority of the inhabitants to settle instead in the plains below, turning Amyclae into a small village as opposed to moving the conquered inhabitants elsewhere. It was following this that the city placed religion as a particularly important part of their identity, and the Sanctuary of Apollo and the Hyacinthia festival became its most distinguishing features.
Amyclae is said to have been the home of Castor and Pullox, who were so given the name 'Amyclaei Fratres'.

Who used the site, and where did they come from?

Replace this with a discussion of the different communities who used the site, including dates and sources.

Select Site Bibliography

Pausanias, Description of Greece from Perseus Digital Library
Polybius, Histories from Perseus Digital Library

Smith, W. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (London : Walton and Maberley : John Murray 1857) from Perseus Digital Library
Clark, W. G. (2011) Peloponnesus: Notes of Study and Travel (Cambridge University Press)
Thirwall, C. (1835) A History of Greece: Volume 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)

Perseus Digital Library 4.0 -
Amyklaion I Amykles Research Project -


The Sanctuary of Apollo Amyklaios lies on the hill of Agia Kyriaki in Amyclae, Sparta.

In present day the village of Sklavokhori is thought to be the location of ancient Amyclae due to inscriptions found at the site - however, there are disputes over whether this is actually the case, as Sklavokhori is more than twice the distance from Sparta that Amyclae was supposed to have been.
Amyclae was 5km south-west from the centre of Sparta.

&lsquoThe district of Amyclae is one of the most richly timbered and fertile in Laconia, lies about twenty stades from Sparta, and contains a temple of Apollo which is about the most famous of all the Laconian holy places.&rsquo
- Polybius 5.19

Europe TOURS

Simply use the Web Code (Booking Number) from your groups promotional flyer or email to make your deposit & secure your seat in just a few minutes. No need to submit a Reservation Form if booking online.

3 Nights - Athens • 2 Nights-Mykonos • 2 Nights-Santorini • Athens City Tour • The Acropolis & Parthenon • The Acropolis Museum • The Plaka & Syntagma Square • Ancient Olympic Stadium • Mykonos • Delos Tour • Santorini Tour • Santorini Winery Visit & Tasting • Oia Village Walking Tour • Greek Island Ferry Rides

7 Nights Hotel Accommodations, 10 Meals, Tour Director, Deluxe Motorcoach, Transportation, Sightseeing per Itinerary, Baggage Handling


Today board your overnight flight to Europe.

Day 2 - Arrive Athens, Greece †

Arrive in Athens, meet your Tour Director and transfer to your hotel. Athens boasts some of the most glorious history in the world. Arguably, the most important civilization of the ancient world flourished in Athens and relives through superb architectural masterpieces. This evening join your fellow travelers for a Welcome Dinner. ( D )

This morning enjoy an Athens City Tour featuring Syntagma Square, the Temple of Zeus and the Ancient Olympic Stadium. Today’s highlight will be a visit to the Acropolis with its incredible Parthenon, the most important site of the city and one of the most recognizable monuments in the world. Then visit the New Acropolis Museum, the modern building houses statues and other masterpieces from the classical era. Later continue to the Plaka, the oldest part of the city, filled with history, restaurants and shopping opportunities. The rest of the day is at your own pace to further explore Athens. ( B )

This morning transfer to the Port of Piraeus outside of Athens to take a high-speed ferry to Mykonos, which belongs to the Cyclades, a group of islands in the Aegean Sea. Check into your hotel for a two night stay and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure to explore the galleries, sandy beaches and iconic landmarks including a row of 16th-century windmills which sit on a hill above Mykonos town. ( B )

Day 5 - Mykonos Sightseeing

This morning take a ferry to Delos, known as the legendary birthplace of twin gods Artemis & Apollo. Enjoy a Delos Tour featuring the Temple of Apollo, the Sanctuary of Artemis, the Old City, the Theater and the iconic Terrace of the Lions. Enjoy some time to explore on your own & maybe visit the Museum of Delos. Later return to Mykonos & enjoy one of the great restaurants in town this evening on your own. ( B )

Day 6 - Mykonos - Santorini

Today take a high-speed ferry to one of the most picturesque islands in the world, Santorini, Greece’s most romanticized island, famous for its white-washed buildings and hilltop villages overlooking the Aegean Sea. Visit a local winery to enjoy a Wine Tasting. Santorini is an island with a wine-making tradition as its volcanic soil and special climate combine to give local wines a unique taste. Next travel through the fascinating landscape to the spectacular town of Oia, where the best views of the crater are found. Enjoy an Oia Village Walking Tour to explore this special village and discover why it is one of the most photographed places in all of Greece. Later check into your hotel for a two night stay and enjoy dinner with your fellow travelers. ( B,D )

Day 7 - Santorini - Day at Leisure

Today is at leisure to explore the island on your own. Perhaps visit the excavation site of ancient Akrotiri, one of the most important prehistoric settlements of the Aegean, the Museum of Prehistoric Thera located in Fira or discover the colorful beaches created by the volcanic eruption. Maybe wander, shop, take photos & enjoy a relaxing Mediterranean meal while enjoying the spectacular views & white-washed architecture. ( B )

Today take a high-speed ferry to Athens, and enjoy some time at leisure. Relax at a cafe or perhaps do some last minute shopping. This evening enjoy a Farewell Dinner with your fellow travelers. ( B,D )

Day 9 - Athens - Flight Home †

Today fly home with wonderful memories of your Athens and the Greek Islands Tour. ( D )

†Land only rates do not include hotel transfers. Roundtrip air package includes hotel transfers.

Site in Athens revealed as an ancient temple of twin gods Apollo and Artemis - History

The Temple of Artemis is known as one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. It has been built in the areas of Ephesus on a flat area which has over the centuries turned into a swamp. If you visit Ephesus today, you can only see the ruins of the foundations of this marvelous construction of the Hellenistic Age, entirely made of marble and full of sculptured columns' capitals and shafts. The most beautiful remaining of this temple are today exhibited in the London British Museum.

The oldest remaining found date back till the 6th century BC. It was surrounded by 36 huge columns, later enlarged upon the orders of the Lydia King, Kreisos, during the 6th century BC. Most of the exhibits in the London British Museum belong to this period.

The new Artemis has been rebuilt in the 2nd century BC. Located on top of the previous one, it had tremendous dimensions: 127 columns of each 17,5 meters high. Unfortunately this one has also been destroyed by fire, reconstructed and again demolished by earthquakes, rebuilt and at last looted by Goths one year later.

The statue of many-breasted Artemis was the symbol of the temple but also of abundance, hunting and wild life. The genuine statue of Artemis, removed during the fire, is today exhibited in the Ephesus Museum . Many copies of this statue found during the latest excavations date back from the Roman period.

Artemis was also called Cynthia, from her birth place, Mount Cynthus in Delos. She was Apollo's twin sister, daughter of Zeus and Leto. She was one of the three maiden goddesses of Olympus: the pure maiden Vesta, gray-eyed Athena who cares but for war and the arts of the craftsmen, and Artemis, lover of woods and the wild chase over the mountain.

She was the Lady of Wild Things, Huntsman-in-chief to the gods, an odd office for a woman. As a huntress her favorite animal was the stag, because its swiftness gave the best opportunity for her method of capture, which was by her silver bow and arrows and speed of foot.

As Phoebus was the Sun, she was the Moon called Phoebe and Selene (Luna) representing the evening and night, carrying a torch, and clad in long heavy robes, with a veil covering the back of her head. Neither name originally belonged to her.

Phoebe was a Titan, one of the older gods. So too was Selene, a moon-goddess, indeed, but not connected with Apollo. She was the sister of Helios, the sun-god with whom Apollo was confused.

She was worshiped in Athens, Corinth, and Thebes as goddess of strict upbringing, of good fame, of upright mind, and of sensibility in the affairs of ordinary life. She chased and fired her arrows at all wild and unchecked creatures and actions.

In the later poets, Artemis is identified with Hecate. She is "the goddess with three forms", Selene in the sky, Artemis on earth, Hecate in the lower world and in the world above when it is wrapped in darkness. Hecate was the Goddess of the dark of the Moon, the black nights when the moon is hidden. She was associated with deeds of darkness, the Goddess of the Crossways, which were held to be ghostly places of evil magic.

At Ephesus, where her great temple was one of the seven wonders of the world, Artemis was represented with a mural crown, with a disc behind the crown on her breast, a garland of flowers, as a sign of her influence in spring time. Lions cling to her arms as mother of wild beasts, she has many breasts her legs are closely bandaged and ornamented with figures of bulls, stags, lions, and griffins at the sides are flowers and bees. This figures may have resembled the original image of the goddess which had fallen from heaven.

Selene, (Luna) is represented as riding on a mule or a horse on the pediment of the Parthenon it is a horse.

Watch the video: ANCIENT GREEK TEMPLES-2nd Delphic Hymn to Apollo and others (September 2022).

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