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by Archaeology Newsroom

The sanctuary of Artemis at Vravron

On the eastern coast of Attica, between the present Porto-Rafti and Rafina, flourished one of the most important sanctuaries of antiquity. It was dedicated to Artemis, the great goddess of nature. Life at the vicinity of Vravrona commences in the Neolithic Age (3.500 BC.). Until the end of the Mycenean era settlement is confined to the rocky hill — the prehistoric acropolis — towering over the southern part of the valley. A cemetery, dating from the end of the Mycenean period, has been excavated on the slopes of the neighbouring hill, called Lapoutsi. The sanctuary is famous from the Geometric age, when the first temple was erected. The important demos of Philaides was located at the area, a demos which supplied Athens with renowned politicians and military. During Peisistratos’ tyranny in sixth century BC Athens, an edifice with a stoa, the so-called Vravroneion, was erected next to the Chalkotheke and dedicated to Artemis Vravronia.

In the fifth century BC the sanctuary reached its climax. The poros Doric temple was built, the bridge was constructed and the stoa was erected in which the so-called “arktoi” (=bears) stayed. The site has been related to the sacrifice of Iphigenia, which took place before the departure of the Greek fleet for the Trojan war. The young offspring of Athenian families used to perform here the Arctaia ritual by imitating bears.

The archaeological finds from the excavations conducted there by the most gifted archaeologist loannis Papademetriou are very rich and witness the cult of the great prehistoric goddess Artemis. Gold-woven dresses, jewelry, mirrors, vases, statuettes and other offerings are dedicated to the goddess Artemis as well as to her priestess Iphigenia who, according to myth, is buried here.