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Ash Altar Of Zeus Offers Insights Into Greece's Most Powerful God - UPDATES


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Bianca
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« on: November 08, 2008, 09:38:04 am »










High in the Arcadian mountains, the sanctuary at Mt. Lykaion was well known in antiquity as one of the most famous Zeus shrines in ancient Greece, as well as a site of early athletics in honor of the Greek’s greatest god. The site, which features an ancient hippodrome, a stadium and buildings related to the ancient athletic festival that rivaled the neighboring sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia, is known to have served as an important Pan Arcadian as well as Pan Hellenic Sanctuary that attracted pilgrims, athletes and dignitaries from all over the Greek world from the Archaic period to the Hellenistic period, ca. 700-200 BCE.

Last summer, a small excavation trench in the altar yielded Early, Middle and Late Helladic, ca. 3000-1200 BCE pottery sherds, indicating activity in this region from as early as 3000 BCE. The new material creates a vastly different account of the history of the altar and the site.

The intriguing discovery of one rock crystal lens-shaped seal bearing the image of a bull with full frontal face, likely of Late Minoan I or Late Minoan II date (1500-1400 BC), has, as of yet, no related materials to accompany it—but it does show at least some early connection between the two cultural areas.

Early 20th century excavations of the Greek Archaeological Society at the altar suggested the earliest activity there to be about 700 BCE, and the Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project excavation found much evidence for activity in later periods: pottery and objects from the Geometric, Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic periods (900-200 BCE), including miniature vases, bronze tripods and rings, iron blades, an iron spit, and silver coins, were excavated from the trench.

Several ancient authors mention that human sacrifice was practiced at the altar of Zeus—Pausanias alludes to mysterious sacrificial practices in his Descriptions of Greece—but to date, no evidence has been found. A considerable amount of animal bones was recovered from the altar excavations, with analysis underway, but preliminary results indicate large and small animal bones of various kinds, and no human bones.

The Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project boasts a Greek-American, interdisciplinary team of archaeologists, geologists, geophysicists, architects, topographical surveyors and students working throughout the site. The project will continue excavations at the altar, and other areas of the sanctuary, in 2008, with plans to continue work through 2010, and a long-range proposal under consideration to develop an archaeological park to unify and protect nearly 300 square kilometers of land in and around the site.


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Adapted from materials provided by University of Pennsylvania Museum.
Need to cite this story in your essay, paper, or report? Use one of the following formats:
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 MLA University of Pennsylvania Museum (2008, January 28).

New Discoveries At The Ash Altar Of Zeus Offer Insights
Into Origins Of Ancient Greece's Most Powerful God. ScienceDaily.

Retrieved November 8, 2008, from



http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2008/01/080123114601.htm
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