Just to the E of Cape Zoster and the S end of Mt. Hymettos is a small
plain, in area little more than 3.2 km deep and 1.6 km wide, its limits clearly
marked by the sea to the S, Hymettos to the W, and lesser hills to N and E. Until
recently the plain's center of habitation was at Vari, a town centrally located
at the place where the coastal road from Athens enters the plain on its W edge
through a natural break in the long chain of Hymettos. Today a second, rapidly
expanding, community has been established at the seashore, with the name of Varkiza.
In Classical antiquity this plain was in all probability the deme of Anagyrous, placed by Strabo in his list of coastal demes after Halai Aixonides (with a sanctuary at Zoster) but before Thorai (9.1.21), and described by Pausanias as having as a notable feature a shrine of the Mother of the Gods (1.31.1). While the position of this last has not been established, no doubt surrounds the location of the deme-center: It was at Vari, where a great variety of remains have been unearthed, many illicitly. Even so, the picture they present is one of a city-state in miniature.
The hill directly W of Van and S of the road from Athens can be considered the acropolis of Anagyrous. Its peak is fortified by a low rubble wall; within this enclosure at the summit are traces of a building and perhaps an altar. The fort was occupied at least in the 5th c. B.C., and would have made an excellent signaling station. Lower down the hill, on a ridge overlooking the town, is a group of more than 20 closely set buildings of various shapes--circular, rectangular, apsidal--from the archaic period, whence was recovered literally thousands of offerings of terracotta and metal. Some, if not most, of these structures must have been places of popular worship. In another part of the hill, at the same level, is the foundation of a small Classical sanctuary. On the hill's lowest slopes, to the E there are copious remains of walls and building blocks from the living quarters of the Classical settlement, while to the N, alongside the road from Athens, is a large cemetery with well preserved grave-terraces of the 5th and 4th c. B.C.
A second, and more important, cemetery lies a little to the N of Vari, where graves and grave-enclosures from Late Geometric to late archaic times have been either excavated or pillaged. From here comes much of the remarkable collection of early Attic black-figure pottery displayed in the National Museum at Athens. These funerary offerings, as well as some sculptured monuments originally from the same area, make it obvious that in the archaic period Vari must have been home for at least one rich aristocratic family.
A few isolated structures, probably farmhouses, have been noticed elsewhere in the plain. One of these, on the same slope of Hymettos as the Cave of the Nymphs but lower, on a spur above a narrow valley entered from the plain, has been recently excavated. It was a rural villa, of the pastas type, with its rooms built around three sides of a courtyard and screened by porticos. It had a short existence, ca. 330-280 B.C.
C.W.J. Eliot, ed.
This text is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites, Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Nov 2002 from Perseus Project URL below, which contains 2 image(s), bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.
Anagyrus (Anagurous, -ountos: Eth. Anagurasios), a demus of Attica, belonging to the tribe Erechtheis, situated S. of Attica near the promontory Zoster. Pausanias mentions at this place a temple of the mother of the gods. The ruins of Anagyrus have been found near Vari. (Strab. p. 398; Paus. i. 31. § 1; Harpocrat., Suid., Steph. B.; Leake, Demi of Attica, p. 56.)
This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited July 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
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