Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Site of Greek Sanctuary of Goddess Artemis Confirmed

How many clues can you pick out of the following story that indicates this is, indeed, a genuine sanctuary of Artemis, besides the obvious one of finding a carved dedication on the site?  My answers are at the bottom.

From Greek website Tournos News

Inscription found in Paleochoria links goddess Artemis to Amarynthos sanctuary

August 19, 2019

A partially preserved inscription linking Artemis with the ancient town of Amarynthos was unearthed in Paleochoria, Evia, 2 km east of the modern-day town with the same name, the Ministry of Culture said on Monday, according to ANA.

Statue-based inscription to the goddess Artemis, her brother Apollo and their mother Leto. Photo Source: Greek Minister of Culture and Antiquities
The fragmentary inscription, "... of Artemis in Amarynthos", was reused in a Roman-era fountain, confirming that the foundations of the building in Paleochoria were related to the sanctuary of the goddess Artemis, first mentioned in Linear B tablets found in the Mycenaean palace of Thebes as "a-ma-ru-to".

The discovery was made during this season's excavations of the sanctuary by the Swiss Archaeological School in Greece (director Karl Reber) and the Antiquities Ephorate of Evia (Amalia Karapaschalidou, honorary ephor).

Excavations to locate the sanctuary began in 2006. This year's dig focused on the Paleochora area where a modern house was razed in 2018 after a University of Thessaloniki geological survey located remains of ancient buildings next to it.

In an announcement, the Ministry of Culture noted the find was "particularly significant, as the remains of the prehistoric settlement excavated in the '70s and '80s in the same area by the Greek Archaeological Service was one of the most important sanctuaries of ancient Euboea (Evia)."

It added that in recent years excavations have revealed two stoas dating to Hellenistic times, which serve to delineate the sanctuary east and north.

"With the discovery of the south wing of the eastern stoa," the Ministry said, "the sanctuary's limits on three sides are now known."

The site lies near a natural harbor. It was inhabited in the prehistoric and Classical periods, until Roman times (3000 B.C.-1st century AD), while during the Byzantine period two churches were built on top of the hill.


I believe these are hints that this is a legitimate site of a goddess sanctuary:  

(1) The name of the place.  Amarynthos, in ancient times referred to as "A-ma-ru-tu."  However you want to slice the linguistic origins of the name, "Ma," "Mar," and "Mary" (ancient name assigned to females and Christian equivalent of the Mother Goddess concept), the common root in many different languages of the names of goddesses and mother goddesses is difficult to ignore.  You can locate lists online  of the names of goddesses and mother goddesses from around the world that either start with Ma/Mo/Mu or Meh, etc. or contain  Ma/Mar and variations thereof in the names of many other female dieties from all cultures and continents.  

(2) Archaeologically attested that two Byzantine period churches (presumably of Christian origin but I don't have information as to whether both existed more or less at the same time, or one was built upon the ruins of the other (often the case) and Catholic denomination not noted (Roman Catholic? Greek Orthodox?  Something else?)  

This was a deliberate policy enacted by the early Church fathers (eastern, western, and other sub-groups that broke away from the Roman Catholic Church of Rome) to adopt as their own Christian places of worship former sites of "pagan" temples and worship, often goddess sanctuaries and other sacred places such as sacred groves, sacred high places and sacred pools or other bodies of water by literally building over the the ruins of a former existing temple or sacred sanctuary or sacred grounds or as close thereto as possible.  However, it wasn't always necessary to build a church over the ruins of a "pagan" site of worship or sacred grounds; sometimes the Church Fathers just seized an existing building that was (presumably) a vacated former temple and re-dedicated it to their Three-in-One God, and sometimes in honor of the "Mother of God."  

There is no information in the article about the names of the two churches, but my guess is that they were dedicated to the Virgin Mary, whom the local people would have associated with the goddess Artemis.

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