ATHENS – Bronze and ceramic objects found this summer east of Amarynthos, on western Evia, confirmed that a large sanctuary enclosure (perivolos) discovered last year belongs to the goddess Artemis, according to archaeologists of the Swiss School in Athens and the Evia Ephorate of Antiquities.
A 12cm bronze quiver, believed to be part of a statuette of Artemis, and another base for a statue mentioning Artemis, Apollo and their mother Leto, confirm the identification of the sanctuary as belonging to the goddess, although a temple has not been discovered yet.
Previous excavations the last ten years revealed ceramic tiles stamped with the name of Artemis and three Hellenistic bases for statues also devoted the goddess, Amalia Karapaschalidou, ephor emerita of Evia told Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA). “According to ancient sources, this area comprised one of the most important sanctuaries of Evia. To the present, we have excavated two stoas which delineate the sanctuary’s eastern and northern boundaries, and a sacred spring,” she said.
According to the Ministry of Culture, this season’s excavations, under Swiss School of Archaeology Director Karl Reber and Karapaschalidou, focused on looking for the ancient temple and altar in the central area. An examination of three plots of land gave information on the southern limits of the sanctuary, it said, “while the western boundaries, where the main entrance is assumed to have been for someone coming from Eretria, remain unknown because the area has been built up with homes.”
Other findings from the area this year included bronze and ceramic statuettes of women and animals, and fragments of marble statuettes of women.
Buildings and findings of the sanctuary range between the Late Archaic period (roughly 530 BC) to the Hellenistic (roughly 323 BC). This year, excavators examined the remains of a large building measuring over 20 m in length that is dated to the Early Archaic period (around 610 BC) and appears to be standing on an even earlier building with arches, dated to the Geometric period.
According to the Ministry of culture, “it appears that the Late Archaic to Early Hellenistic period temple (devoted to Artemis) would have been built elsewhere, perhaps in the west of the area.”
Karapaschalidou notes however that “what is evident is that the sanctuary was very important, extended over a great area, and consisted of many buildings,” because of the range of different building phases.
The sanctuary suffered from destruction over the ages, as in the Roman times, but a lot of damage occurred in the early 20th century, she said. “Neighbors told us that in the beginning of the last century, people from Oropos came to pick up building materials. That is, they broke them down and transported parts of buildings to use them in modern structures or to turn them into lime. We have found a large contemporary lime kiln in the sanctuary, where they have destroyed a lot of remains,” she adds.