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Temple of Artemis Orthia

a Pleiades place resource

Creators: Danielle Hoyer, Paul Cochran Copyright © The Contributors. Sharing and remixing permitted under terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (cc-by).
Last modified Sep 27, 2023 02:15 PM History
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An Archaic temple dedicated to Artemis Orthia within the sanctuary of this goddess at Sparta. The site contained rich deposits of votives and masks.

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The visible Temple of Artemis Orthia, located just northeast of modern Sparta, was built and rebuilt several times, with the first construction probably dating to the beginning of the 8th century BCE. This earlier portion, and the Geometric/Protocorinthian/Laconian I pottery found with it, had been sealed at some point around 600 BCE under a layer of sand. A new Archaic temple was built on top of this layer around 570 BCE; it is this temple that is associated with the rich votive offerings and large numbers of clay masks found at the site. These masks have been categorized broadly as either “grotesque” or “heroic” types. During the third century CE, the Romans replaced the altar of the sanctuary with an amphitheater, the benches of which are still present at the site. There is still no material evidence for the mysterious cult practices described by second-century BCE travelers. Initial excavation of the site was directed by R.M. Dawkins of the British School at Athens during 1904-1910, when it was originally believed that the site consisted only of the Roman amphitheater.

The finds from the Temple of Artemis tend to contradict the notion that Spartan society was focused exclusively on warfare and had no interest in art or culture. Not only was religion important enough to merit a refurbished temple in the Archaic period, but this site has yielded particular craftsmanship in the form of the great deposits of masks in addition to the usual votive offerings. The fact that some of these masks appear to have been meant to be worn could also imply some sort of theatrical or performing tradition in Archaic Sparta.

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Danielle Hoyer, Paul Cochran, Jeffrey Becker, and Adam Rabinowitz, 'Temple of Artemis Orthia: a Pleiades place resource', Pleiades: A Gazetteer of Past Places, 2023 <> [accessed: 05 March 2024]

            {{cite web |url= |title=Places: 139216315 (Temple of Artemis Orthia) |author=Hoyer, D., P. Cochran |accessdate=March 5, 2024 10:17 am |publisher=Pleiades}}