The Swedish Institute at Athens is happy to announce the program for the Athens Greek Religion Seminar Spring 2022. The seminars take place selected Tuesdays at 17.00 (Athens time), via Zoom until further notice. Our first meeting takes place today Tuesday January 18, when Maria Spathi, Society of Messenian Archaeological Studies, will introduce the topic: Who was the Deity worshiped? Revisiting a Sanctuary on Messenian Mount Ithome.
To participate, send an email to [email protected] (registration is obligatory). Links will be available one week ahead of each seminar.
The small prostyle temple on the southern slope of Mount Ithome was until recently
identified with the sanctuary of Eileithyia and the Kouretes which was seen by the
second-century AD traveller Pausanias (IV, 31, 9) during his visit in the ancient city
The temple was built after Epameinondas refounded the city in 369 BC. The site
was systematically excavated between 2006 and 2013 and revealed numerous finds.
The presentation offers an overview of the material evidence from the excavation,
that includes pottery, hundreds of terracottas and miniature vases, mostly
hydriskai, inscriptions, metal finds and the cult statue. The detailed study of the
above finds offers insights into the character of the worshiped deity and allow us to
reconstruct ritual practices that were taking place continuously from the early
Hellenistic to the Roman period. It also reveals a deity responsible for the wellbeing and growth of vegetation, animals and people, mostly young women, and
raises the question of her identification.
In this presentation I will discuss all the indications that lead to the revision of the
deity worshiped, based not only on the finds from the excavation in the sanctuary
but also from the other sanctuaries in the city as well as on the topography, i.e.
the location of the temple inside the fortification wall but away from the city
center together with the shrine of Zeus Ithomatas on the mountain´s summit and
the neighbouring sanctuary of Artemis Limnatis.