Rare wooden votives found at Brauron sanctuary

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Rare wooden votive offerings of the 5th century BC have recently been discovered in the sanctuary of Artemis at Vravrona on the eastern coast of Attica, according to a statement released on October 3 by the Greek ministry of culture and tourism. Unearthed during infrastructural improvements on the archaeological site, these fragmentary wooden artefacts are remarkable for their state of preservation and detailed ornamentation.

The sanctuary of Artemis at Brauron [Credit: Panoramio]

Archaeologists from the 2nd Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities were supervising the excavation of a new drainage system west of the site’s partly reconstructed stoa and north of the sacred spring, where they uncovered a rich deposit of ancient ceramic and bronze objects. The objects included Archaic figurines, two intact bronze mirrors and pottery from the Classical era. 

Perhaps most impressive in the deposit are wooden objects, including the head and upper torso of a female figurine (ca 500-450BC) wearing a peplos, or body-length garment, and a headscarf over ornately curled hair, with traces of red pigment. Also discovered among the wooden finds are fragments of ceramic vessels and flattened pieces of wood, perhaps from plank-shaped figurines. 

Fragment of upper torso of a female figure wearing a peplos [Credit: Athens News]

Particularly unique are the wooden soles of a woman’s sandals, only partly preserved but highly ornate with incised decoration. The sandals may represent the remains of a votive offering dedicated in the sanctuary by a female follower of Artemis Vravronia. 

Botanical specimens collected may assist in reconstructing the sanctuary’s natural environment. This diverse cache of ancient artefacts may be the contents of a bothros, a pit used in antiquity for the discarding of sacred objects. 

Once preservation and documentation of the artefacts has been completed, the most exceptional items will be displayed in the Vravrona Archaeological Museum.  

Source: Athens News [October 17, 2011]

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