This volume contains papers presented and discussed at the Ninth International Symposium of the Swedish Institute in Athens in 1994, which was organised in honour of the centenary of the first Swedish excavations in Greece at the sanctuary of Poseidon in Kalaureia (Poros). Following on previous seminars and symposia of the Institute on religion, it fittingly concentrates on Peloponnesian sanctuaries since the activities of the Swedish Institute have predominately been in the Peloponnese (e.g., Asine, Dendra, Berbati).
The twenty-seven papers present new research on Peloponnesian sanctuaries and cults, dealing with various aspects of the literary, iconographic, and archaeological evidence. The contributions span the Late Bronze Age to the early Roman period, with most focusing on the Archaic and Classical periods. They range widely in scope and methodology: some report on newly excavated material, others re-examine data from earlier excavations offering fresh interpretations; some are pure descriptions of archaeological remains, others are more theoretically informed in their discussion of ritual behavior and historical development; some concentrate on certain gods or specific sites, others are of a more comparative nature; some address specific categories of material evidence; others are concerned with specific ritual acts.
As with other volumes in the series, the main goal here is to present new data and new interpretations, and although there is a long gap between the conference and the publication of the proceedings, several of the papers have been updated to include post-1994 findings. Two of the papers that were presented as posters have been transformed into articles, while another two appear only as abstracts since they have already been published elsewhere (presumably because of the considerable delays in the publication of this volume).1 Parts of the discussions are also published.
The volume is arranged in five sections. The first section, entitled “Swedish Archaeology in Greece,” celebrates the centenary of the first Swedish excavations in Greece with a review by R. Hägg of the activities of the Swedish Institute at Athens since 1894 (9-13), followed by two papers on the pioneer excavators Sam Wide, first professor of Classical Archaeology and Ancient History at Uppsala University, and his colleague and successor Lennart Kjellberg. The first paper by G.C. Nordquist (“A Better Time Cannot Be Found,” 15-20) presents archival material on the two scholars during their stay in Greece between 1893-1895 and their excavations at Kalaureia and Aphidna. It also includes interesting snippets on conditions of archaeological fieldwork and life in Greece in the late nineteenth century. The second paper, by M. Hielte-Stavropoulou and M. Wedde (“Sam Wide’s excavation at Aphidna — Stratigraphy and Finds,” 21-24), is a re-examination and re-publication of the extant material from Wide’s excavation of 13 graves in a Middle Helladic tumulus at Aphidna. It presents preliminary observations on funerary practices: that the three types of graves (shaft, cist, and pithos) may indicate social stratification, a conclusion not supported by the limited burial offerings; that the pithos burials may postdate the other types; and that the bowls placed above or at the opening of the pithoi show connections with Melos. In the second section, on “Argolido-Corinthia,” E. Konsolaki presents her very important discovery of “A Mycenaean Sanctuary on Methana” (25-36), a one-room shrine located inside a Late Helladic structure within a settlement on the east coast of the rugged peninsula of Methana in Troizenia. Applying Renfrew’s2 criteria for identifying a structure as a shrine, the author makes a strong case for the cultic function of the room on the basis of both architectural features and finds. Among the former are a stepped bench (unusual for the mainland) for the display of offerings placed opposite the east-facing entrance, a low platform along the wall opposite the bench, a low dais between them perhaps for a cult statue or used as a slaughtering table, and a hearth containing evidence for cooking meals and animal sacrifice. The finds include terracotta figurines and cultic vessels, among which is a most peculiar mixed animal-head rhyton apparently used for libations. A triton shell, the first of its kind found in a mainland sanctuary, may have been used as a musical instrument if not as a rhyton. The almost total absence of Phi or Psi figurines and the great number of human figures in association with horses and bovids (chariot groups, helmeted riders, ridden and driven oxen groups) leads the author to argue for the primary cult of a male divinity. The bull and horse imagery may suggest a cult to a precursor of Poseidon and/or Hippolytos, who were worshipped during the historical period not only at Methana but also Kalaureia and Troizen.
A. Gadolou’s paper, “The Formation of the Sacred Landscape of the Eastern Argolid, 900-700 B.C.: A Religious, Social and Political Survey” (37-43), attempts to associate the sacred landscape of eastern Argolid with local settlement patterns during the Geometric period. Her main argument is that “religious practices throughout the Geometric period formed the basis for the consolidation of the settlements” (42) in the area which is more densely inhabited than previously thought. She observes that while in the western Argolid the majority of sanctuaries were urban or suburban, in the eastern part extra-urban sanctuaries predominated. Focusing on the sanctuary of Poseidon at Kalaureia, she argues that this played a pivotal role in the evolution of the settlements of the area that distinguished them from those of western Argolid in social and political organisation. Regarding the Kalaureian Amphictiony, of which the sanctuary became the seat, she opts for a primarily religious association formed for religious and economic reasons. The alternative opinion, that the league may have been primarily for defensive reasons against Argos, should have been discussed further, especially in view of the author’s suggestion that Poseidon at Kalaureia was the counterpart of the Argive Heraion in western Argolid, in unifying and empowering the settlements of the region under common religion.
The arguments are sometimes hard to follow and the author does not seem aware of debated issues, like that of the divinity worshipped in the early Agamemnoneion at Mycenai (for which see Hall’s article). There are some mistakes and some vagueness in the text and images: three main regions in the eastern Argolid are mentioned but five are listed (39); on the map of figure 2, the marks for some sites fall into the sea; and on Table 3, under “Shrines, the locations of which have particular character” is listed a votive deposit (Bonoris plot, Argos) with no explanation of its “particular character”.
In the next paper, C. Morgan builds on her interest in the way social and political behaviour is reflected in the material record by exploring “The Corinthian Aristocracy and Corinthian Cult During the Eighth Century BC” (45-51). Focusing on the sanctuary of Poseidon at Isthmia, she surveys changes in cult organisation and myth-history in Corinthia during the late Geometric period. She contrasts the situation in pre-750 BC and post-750 BC Isthmia when sacrifice and dining became progressively more elaborate and regulated, perhaps with some social differentiation in the use of space. Wealth and status were expressed through new types of votives (monumental tripods, bronze bowls, and figured pottery) adopted from neighboring regions. This is explained as subscription to wider aristocratic attitudes towards material display in a case of “catching up with the Jones’.” Changes at Isthmia, which are tied to continuity and tradition, are placed in a regional context. The other two extra-urban shrines at Perachora and Solygeia are considered parallel cases as part of a coordinated Corinthian political response which, however, differed in the expression of ideological statements. The celebration of personal wealth was more important in Perachora, as shown by the many small valuable items and imports; in Solygeia there seems to be a deliberate attempt to invoke the communal past, perhaps by commemorating the refounding of Corinth.
In “Sanctuaries and Cults in an Early Urban Context: Argos c. 900-500 BC” (53-62), M.C.V. Vink explores changes in cult and the emergence of sanctuaries during the late Geometric period, using Argos as a case study. She argues along the lines of de Polignac and Morris (without however referring to them) that the Greek sanctuary as a discrete area for religious purposes emerged in the eighth century, following a spatial indeterminacy in cult during the Dark Ages when no sharply differentiated sacred space existed. This opinion, however, has been challenged by C. Sourvinou-Inwood,3 who lists several Dark Age shrines. Indeed, the presence of domestic-type objects should not exclude a cultic function, as the author assumes. And why would the location near the later theatre, where figurines were found, be identified as a cult area if at the same location molds were found, a fact pointing to a workshop? Vink further argues that the stimulus for this change in late Geometric times was the emergence of the polis, when private interests were subordinated to the community, which attempted to control space. Gradually, public life increased in importance with more clearly defined communal facilities for cult, civic life, and burial.
E.R. Gebhard, “Caves and Cults at the Isthmian Sanctuary of Poseidon” (63-74), re-examines, in view of recent excavations, the two man-made caves used for ritual dining at Isthmia and compares them with other dining facilities in sanctuaries, especially those in the sanctuary of Demeter and Kore at Corinth. She defines the chronology of the caves, unique since they were for underground dining, from the fifth to the fourth century BC, and suggests that since only up to 27 diners could have been accommodated at one time, the caves were not used by large groups but by a select group, probably officials of civic bodies (tribes, phratries) or associations for the worship of a hero. One could also assume, however, that many more diners could have been accommodated if they dined in shifts as in modern Greek festivals.
V.R. Anderson-Stojanovi discusses “The Cult of Demeter and Kore at the Isthmus of Corinth” (75-83), based on archaeological discoveries. Inscriptions and votive deposits indicate that there were two areas dedicated to the goddesses: a fourth-century one near the temenos of Poseidon and an earlier one to the south on the summit of the Rachi ridge where the Thesmophoria may have been celebrated. The author suggests that the cult area in Poseidon’s temenos was set up when a Hellenistic settlement was established on Rachi, with the old shrine there continuing to attract votives. Since, however, no structures of this shrine survive, many of these votives could have been used in household cults. Of the finds, the terracotta illustrated in fig. 10 depicts a sphinx rather than a dog (cf. p.114, fig. 14); the short ledge on which it stands can be made out even if the background is not cut away.
B. Menadier re-evaluates the location of “The Sanctuary of Hera Akraia and its Religious Connections with Corinth” (85-91). On the basis of archaeological and literary evidence she presents a series of arguments restating the case for Perachora (rather than Corinth) being the site of the sanctuary of Hera Akraia. She further argues, correctly in my opinion, that Medea’s children were buried there and not in the centre of Corinth; Perachora was also the only seat of the sacred rites established in their honor. Pausanias’ mention of a mnema in Corinth did not refer to the actual place of burial but to a cenotaph which, according to the author, was a Roman monument with no direct topographical relationship to the sanctuary but erected as a deliberate reference to Corinth’s mythical past. It would not have been unusual, however, for a tomb of Medea’s children to have existed in both Corinth and Perachora. There are several instances for the grave of the same hero to have been claimed in two or even three different locations.4
In “Heroes, Hera and Herakleidai in the Argive Plain” (93-98), J.M. Hall takes up the thorny issue of hero cult in the Argolid. Although he accepts an etymological association between Hera and heroes and finds a geographical association between Hera shrines and cult at Bronze Age tombs, as well as a similarity in the type of offerings, he ultimately rejects any cultic association between them; still he finds the correlation suggestive in that similar offerings seem to indicate similar rituals. Hall argues that the motivation behind both the instigation of tomb cult in the Geometric period and the establishment of Hera sanctuaries was a conscious appeal to the Bronze Age past, with which people tried to forge a link. This idea, however, is based upon the assumption that Hera was pre-eminent in the Argive plain in the Bronze Age. Hall’s further argument, which connects Hera cults and tomb cults with the group for whom the myth of the “Return of the Herakleids” was particularly important, is more interesting. This myth, forged in post-Mycenaean times, should not be considered part of the Dorian propaganda for the hegemony of the Peloponnese, since Dorians and Herakleids competed for legitimacy at the time of the emergence of the polis; instead, it should be seen as a charter myth of a different ethnic group competing for power: a myth rooted in ancestral traditions, forming a counterpart to the Dorian conquest myth.
N.L. Klein, from a re-examination of finds and a study of the British archives, offers “Evidence for the Archaic and Hellenistic Temples at Mycenae” (99-105). She concludes that the terrace on the citadel top was built in the late eighth century, followed a century later by an enlargement of the terrace and the construction of the first stone temple, which is known only from architectural elements incorporated into an early-third-century BC replacement temple. She also explores the regional connections of the early sanctuary. The architectural terracottas and the use of stone reliefs as decoration before the establishment of the Doric order indicate similarities with early temples at Corinth and Isthmia (and perhaps beyond).
A. Banaka-Dimaki’s contribution, “Cult Places in Argos” (107-116), is a preliminary report of two deposits excavated in Argos containing material of a cultic nature. She offers some observations, not so much on the finds themselves, which range from the sixth to the fourth centuries BC, but on the localisation of the places, which provide evidence on shrines beyond the well-known central city sanctuaries and help define the extent of the city.
In “Cultes de sommet en Argolide et Corinthie: éléments d’interprétation (119-122), F. de Polignac attempts to find a more satisfactory explanation for the peculiar chronological development of the cults of Zeus on mountaintops in northwestern Peloponnese: they generally began at the end of the Geometric period, had a floruit in the seventh century, a decline in the sixth, and some revival in the late Roman period. He successfully refutes previous theories suggesting that the popularity of the cults depended on need for rain or changes in rural economy and exploitation of the territory. Considering the Minoan peak sanctuaries a parallel case, he proposes that the mountaintop cults, which generally began at the end of the eighth century BC, mirroring the extension of rural habitation and agrarian exploitation, played an important role in the autonomous but collective religious life of neighboring rural communities through the seventh century. The popularity of the cults, however, declined in the sixth century as a direct result of the complete integration of the rural areas into the religious, economic, and political realm of the city. Such a scenario makes particular sense in the case of districts that were transformed into frontier regions and thereby became separated communities, which could previously have been involved in the common worship of the deity. While cult at such remote sites was progressively abandoned, nearby sanctuaries, which were more accessible and better suited to architectural embellishment, experienced a remarkable flourishing indicating an attempt by the cities to mark their presence on the boundaries of their territory. The exceptional rise in popularity of the Lykaion cult during the fifth and fourth centuries is attributed to that sanctuary’s becoming a symbol of the collective Arkadian identity. It is no surprise then that the cult declined with the foundation of Megalopolis and its urban sanctuaries. New evidence about the dating, architectural form, and function of three cult buildings in the Epidaurian Asklepieion is presented by E. Lembidaki in “Three Sacred Buildings in the Asclepieion at Epidauros: New Evidence From Recent Archaeological Research” (123-136). Sacred Precinct “Y”, an unroofed, bipartite structure, was built during the major building project of the sanctuary after the mid-fourth century century. Its identification, on the basis of the architectural form, as a sanctuary of combined chthonic and Olympian character is not unreasonable, but in view of the presence of an altar in the eastern part it is unclear why the author suggests that this space was for bloodless sacrifices. The earlier identification of Sanctuary “O”, a square bipartite building (of a “sacred oikos” type), with that of the gods Epidotes (gods of good deeds) is supported here. The northern room housed cult statues on a curved pedestal, with Asklepios in a central location isolated by a balustrade, while the southern was for cult activities. It is not clear why the third sacred building, Sanctuary “P”, a square hall with an antechamber, is assigned by the author to a mystery cult.
The third section, devoted to “The Sanctuary of Athena Alea at Tegea”, consists of three papers. The first two, E. Østby, “Recent Excavations in the Sanctuary of Athena Alea at Tegea: Results and Problems” (139-147), and G.C. Nordquist, “Evidence for Pre-Classical Cult Activity Beneath the Temple of Athena Alea at Tegea” (149-158), present the results of the five seasons of the Norwegian-led excavations at Alea that aimed to trace the origins and early history of the sanctuary. The excavations concentrated in two areas: inside the cella of the early Archaic temple and to the north of the temple. The most spectacular discoveries were made in the first area, proving that not only the cult activity but also the cult installations in the sanctuary go back to at least the eighth century BC. Two superimposed wattle-and-daub apsidal structures of the eighth and early seventh century were found. Both their architectural form and associated finds suggest a cultic function. Even more interesting is the evidence for (perhaps contemporary) metalworking discovered just in front of the structures (in the area of the pronaos of the Classical temple), possibly for the manufacture of small votives. The location of the metalworking pits in front of a cult building, where the altar should have been, is unparalleled. Østby challenges the interpretation of the projecting foundation attached to the north side of the Classical temple as a ramp but offers no satisfactory alternative. The use of the area remains enigmatic.
M.E. Voyatzis presents “An Analysis of Votive Types Recently Found at Tegea” (159-168), mostly bronze, in the context of finds at other Peloponnesian sanctuaries. On the basis of the finds, she arrives at two well-argued conclusions. Firstly, that women played a major role in cult activities at Tegea as in other places where jewellery dedications are comparatively numerous. Secondly, that Athena Alea had a multiple nature that incorporated features commonly attributed to Artemis, Hera, and Demeter: mistress of animals and fertility goddess, protectress of the town, and patron of weaving. After the seventh century, when the jewellery dedications dropped sharply, the last two qualities predominated and the deity conformed to the conventional image of Athena.
In a shorter section devoted to “Cults of Herakles and Artemis”, C.A. Salowey discusses “Herakles and Healing Cults in the Peloponnese” (171-177), while E.L. Brulotte examines “Artemis: Her Peloponnesian Abodes and Cults” (179-182). Saloway concentrates on Herakles’ aspect as a curative divinity in Greek times. By tracing the development of his curative abilities in myth and ritual (his Alexikakos epithet, association with springs and medicinal waters, and connections with Asklepios), she offers the persuasive suggestion that Herakles’ water-control, and especially swamp-clearing, achievements in myth provided the aetion for his worship in Classical times as a disease preventor, since the connection between stagnant water and disease was eventually realised. In particular the myth of the Lernaian Hydra was probably based on geographical reality: a decrease in the level of the lake near Lerna through a successful hydraulic project during the Mycenaean period must have improved the drainage of the Argive plain and may have been immortalised in the myth.
Drawing on background research for his PhD, Brulotte surveys the many cults of Artemis in the Peloponnese from late Geometric to Roman times, with particular reference to those attested archaeologically. He stresses the number and diversity of her cult epithets, which show that several of these cults spread from one Peloponnesian region to another and generally from rural to urban settings. Thus many Artemis cults were located in or near urban settings rather than rural as previously thought.5
The section on the “Western and Southern Peloponnese” contains several papers. M. Jost, “À propos des sacrifices humains dans le sanctuaire de Zeus du mont Lycée” (183-186), challenges the standard explanation of human sacrifice and lykanthropy on Mount Lykaion (as well as in general) as symbolic death in the context of initiation rituals, without however being able at this stage to offer a satisfactory alternative.
U.W. Gans and U. Kreilinger, reporting on excavations resumed in 1991 in “The Sanctuary of Zeus Soter at Megalopolis (187-190), stress the political character of this late Classical sanctuary, whose characteristics anticipate Hellenistic architecture. Pottery has confirmed its precise date as ca. 340 BC, contemporary with the Stoa of Philip. The architectural similarities with the stoa show that the same architect and workshop were at work, mass-producing architectural elements for different buildings. The area previously identified as a propylon is now confirmed as an exedra, while another annex functioned as a dining room. It is noteworthy that, in contrast to other Megalopolitan sanctuaries furnished with old cult statues from other Arkadian sanctuaries, this sanctuary was provided with newly made statues of Zeus, Megalopolis, and Artemis Savior that highlight its federal Arkadian character and political role.
U. Sinn, using as a starting point the statue of Artemis depicted on the Centauromachy frieze at Bassai, makes a convincing case for the worship of “Artemis in the Sanctuary on Mount Kotilion (Phigalia)” (193-198), alongside Apollo and Pan. A fourth-century BC manumission decree and miniature votive offerings support the idea that both Artemis and Apollo were worshiped in the area as helpers in time of need and as presiders over initiatory rites for maidens and youths. The two buildings unearthed on Mt Kotilion, on a terrace above the Apollo sanctuary are both here associated with Artemis: one of a N-S orientation would be a temple and the other, traditionally assumed to be a temple of Aphrodite, is here identified as a treasury.
A. Moustaka, focusing “On the Cult of Hera at Olympia” (199-205), challenges the great antiquity of the cult,6 a long-established opinion based mainly on Pausanias’ report, the presence of the temple, and the limestone head often attributed to the cult statue (but now generally accepted as belonging to a sphinx). A comparison between the finds at Olympia and at Hera’s three major sanctuaries (Argive Heraion, Perachora, Samos) supports her arguments by revealing major differences: early votive offerings relating to the worship of Hera (e.g., house models) have been found in all three sanctuaries but not at Olympia; all dedicatory inscriptions at Olympia refer to Zeus; weapons and armour, discovered in abundance at Olympia, are almost completely lacking from the other three sanctuaries; and the Geometric figurines found at Olympia are mostly of nude male warriors, while the few female ones are nude, an appearance that does not conform to the typical iconography of Hera. By doubting even the existence of a cult of Hera in the early Archaic period, Moustaka revives an older view that the temple of Hera, the oldest cult building of the sanctuary, was actually a temple to Zeus that was replaced by the new fifth-century temple. The old temple then became a sort of large treasury, a conclusion independently reached by K.W. Arafat,7 whom she cites. She further argues that the cult of Hera was a later addition, probably of the second half of the fifth century, her rise connected to political changes.
In his article on “The ‘Achilleion’ Near Sparta: Some Unknown Finds” (207-219), C.M. Stibbe re-examines the small finds from a sanctuary excavated a century ago on the Megalopolis road near Sparta. Stibbe agrees with the identification of the sanctuary by its excavator as the Achilleion, mentioned by Pausanias as the place where Spartan youths used to make sacrifices before taking part in the contest at Platanistas. The sanctuary, established most likely in the seventh century, is not epigraphically confirmed, but topographical arguments and a newly identified fragmentary terracotta relief of the kind found only in hero shrines in Lakonia support this identification. I believe that the presence of some weapons among the finds corroborates the identification as the shrine of a hero-warrior. Newly identified finds include seven bronze Hellenistic mirrors and a Roman lamp, but the few Late Helladic sherds do not prove that the cult started in Mycenaean times, as Stibbe claims, and thus do not permit a comparison with Apollo Maleatas. The heyday of the sanctuary must have been the seventh and sixth centuries, as shown by a deposit of about 10,000 miniature vases found mixed with charred earth and bones, unless finds from later periods were placed in a separate deposit. Stibbe’s suggestion that Spartan youths were behind these modest offerings is weakened by the presence of such miniature vases in most Lakonian sanctuaries.
The volume is on the whole well produced with clear photographs. There are, however, some oversights in the maps: no North sign is included in some (p. 100, fig. 1; p. 76 fig. 1; p. 64 fig. 1; p. 66 fig. 5) and on p. 176, fig. 4 the legend does not correspond to the map. In addition there is a lack of cross-referencing between articles: e.g., Klein does not refer to Hall for the likely identification of the temple at Mycenae as that of Hera. The main text contains several typographical errors, of which I note here only the potentially misleading ones: p. 71: for “less infrequently” read “less frequently”; p. 155: for “platform in the east” read “platform in the west”; p. 181: for “Koumouthekra” read “Kombothekra”; p. 208: for “Plante-tree” read “Plane-tree”.
Even though, as expected, no unifying theme binds this set of essays, there is still a large amount of data providing a good picture of recent archaeological work in Peloponnesian cults, useful mainly to professional archaeologists and graduate students. By offering a rich perspective on the various sanctuaries and cults in the Peloponnese, the essays highlight the varieties and local idiosyncrasies of Greek cult and complement such publications as N. Marinatos and R. Hägg (eds), Greek Sanctuaries: New Approaches (London 1993) and S.E. Alcock and R. Osborne (eds), Placing the Gods: Sanctuaries and Sacred Space in Ancient Greece (Oxford 1994).
1. Pp. 117-118: M.-F. Billot, “Sanctuaires et cultes d’Athéna à Argos”, OpAth 22-23 (1997-98) 7-52; p. 221: O. Palagia, “Tyche at Sparta”, YaleBull 47 (Fall 1994) 64-75. These are not reviewed here.
2. The Archaeology of Cult: The Sanctuary at Phylakopi (London 1985) 18-21.
3. “Early Sanctuaries, the Eighth Century and Ritual Space: Fragments of a Discourse”, in N. Marinatos and R. Hägg (eds), Greek Sanctuaries: New Approaches (London 1993) 1-17.
4. Agamemnon and Kassandra at Mycenae and Amyklai: Paus. 3.19.6 and 2.16.6-7; Hippolytos at Athens and Troizen: Paus. 1.22.1; Talthybios in Sparta and Aigion: Paus. 3.12.7; Alkmene in Haliartos, Athens, and Megara: Plut. De gen. 5; Paus. 1.41.1; 9.2.1.
5. Add the following recent bibliography: M. Osanna, Santuari e culti dell’Acaia antica (Naples 1996); E.-A. Chlepa,
6. She makes a similar point in a recent publication, “Zeus und Hera im Heiligtum von Olympia,” in H. Kyrieleis (ed.), Olympia 1875-2000: 125 Jahre deutsche Ausgrabunge (Mainz am Rhein 2002) 301-315, arguing that the cult of Hera is not widely attested in the northwestern Peloponnese and thus an early date of the Olympia temple would be anachronistic.
7. “Pausanias and the Temple of Hera at Olympia” BSA 90 (1995) 461-73.