Ancient Greek temple discovered in Messinia

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Archaeological research reveals an ancient temple in the mountains between Ilia and Messinia, opposite the well-known imposing temple of Epicurean Apollo. 

View of the temple from the east [Credit: To Vima]

The area around the newly discovered temple was full of architectural tools that were used to build a small temple, while former head of the 38th Ephorate of Antiquities, archaeologist Dr. Xeni Arapogianni explains that when the small temple was demolished in order to build a new one, topmasts, triglyphs and other parts of the ancient temple were found. 

Architectural elements of the ancient temple [Credit: To Vima]

The excavation started back in 2010, revealing the temple as well as bronze items and a great number of iron weapons and particularly sharp spears probably dedicated to the temple’s god, according to the Greek newspaper To Vima. A bronze figurine of a naked man, presumably a warrior as he’s holding a spear in its arm, was also found by the archaeologists. 

Among the finds was a bronze cylindrical fixture with lion’s head, iron spear points and other weapons, and an inscribed sherd [Credit: To Vima]

“That enables us to conclude that the temple was dedicated to a divine entity of war,” points out Dr. Arapogianni, underlying that the direct visual contact with the temple of Epicurean Apollo combined with the similarities of the votives, especially the spears, could mean that the temple was also dedicated to Apollo. That, however, does not exclude the possibility that goddesses Artemis or Athena were also worshipped there. 

Trigypjh and metope fragment from the temple [Credit: To Vima]

“In my opinion, that was the first temple [in comparison with the one of the Epicurean Apollo], dated in the Archaic period, approximately at the 6th century B.C. It was probably built by Spartans, who conquered Messinia, and when Messinians were later liberated, they must have built a bigger temple in the same spot,” stresses the archaeologist. 

Author: Areti Kotseli | Source: Greek Reporter [April 24, 2012]

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