Abstract: The Archaic Sanctuary on Kythnos (Cyclades) and its Importance for the Understanding of Greek Cult Practices

Between 2002-06, 2009-2013, on the site of the ancient capital of the Cycladic island of Kythnos, the team of University of Thessaly led by A. Mazarakis Ainian excavated a rich sanctuary of the Archaic and Classical periods, probably dedicated to the cult of Apollo and Artemis. The highlight of this was the discovery of the the unplundered inner sanctum (adyton) of the temple. The adyton, as well as the nearby extensive votive deposit, yielded innumerable precious offerings, and a great variety of luxurious objects, dated mostly from the seventh to the fourth centuries B.C., though certain objects were antiques, dating back to the Late Bronze Age. Activities in the sanctuary continued down to the end of the Hellenistic period; at that stage a monumental terrace was constructed in front of the sanctuary, serving for political assemblies, while a possible Pryaneion of the same period was excavated nearby. The provenance of the offerings from the sanctuary is not only local (i.e. Cycladic), but from all over the Aegean, as well as from the East and West Mediterranean. In this paper the finds are presented and the impact of the discovery is discussed. Moreover, a comparative study of other island and mainland sanctuaries will be attempted, aiming towards a better understanding of the importance of the Kythnos sanctuary and the dedication strategies in Greek cult places in general. Lastly, the drastic changes in the use of the area during the Hellenistic period will be assessed.


Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:

KYTHNOS WEBSITE (for the moment in Greek, but soon in English as well)

A. Mazarakis Ainian, Inside the adyton of a Greek temple: Excavations on Kythnos (Cyclades), in Architecture and Archaeology in the Cyclades, Colloquium in honour of J.J. Coulton, Oxford University, Lincoln College, April 16-17, 2004 (ed. Μ. Geroulanou & M. Stamatopoulou), Oxford 2005, pp. 87-103.

A. Mazarakis Ainian, Réflexions sur les systèmes votifs aux sanctuaires de Kythnos (Cyclades), Διεθνές Συνέδριο «Le donateur». Lille 13-15/12/2007, Kernos Suppl. 23, 2009, pp. 287-318.

A. Mazarakis Ainian, Ein antikes Heiligtum auf Kythnos, in "Neuen Funden in griechischen Städten und Heiligtümern". Kolloquium. 4.-5. Nov. 2005. Univ. Regensburg (Festschrift Bernard Wesenberg), (ed. H. Frielinghaus & J. Stroszeck), Wiesbaden 2010, pp. 21-53.

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