Archaeological sites LYKOSSOURA (Ancient city) MEGALOPOLI - GTP + Greek Travel Pages

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Archaeological sites (1)

Ancient sanctuaries

The Sanctuary of Despoina

  The ruins are 7 km W of Megalopolis. The only source for the city is Pausanias' reference (8.37-38) to the Sanctuary of Despoina, a very ancient Chthonic divinity identified with Persephone-Kore, whose date was confirmed by excavations undertaken in 1889 and later. To the E and to the N foundations of a Doric portico have been found, before which, from E to W are arranged three altars consecrated to Demeter, Despoina, and the Great Mother. The temple was 15 m from the altar farthest to the W, and was perhaps constructed in the 4th c. B.C. It is a Doric prostyle temple, with a hexadic facade of marble, on three steps, oriented to the E. Recognizable are a pronaos and a cella, the major part of which was occupied by a pedestal which supported a group of cult statues in marble. These were the work of Damophon of Messene, active around the middle of the 2d c. B.C. They represented Demeter, Despoina, Artemis, and Anytos. During the excavation many fragments of sculpture recognizable as belonging to the group were found, which permitted its reconstruction after a coin of Megalopolis. Despoina and her mother Demeter were seated, while Artemis and Anytos were standing. The remains of the group are in the National Museum at Athens. One exited from the temple to the outside through a lateral door in the S wall. In the cella are the remains of a mosaic, and before the temple there are two bases for bronze statues. Several tiles with the inscription Depoinas have come from the excavation, and date between 74 and 66 B.C. To the S of the pronaos several bases for offerings have been found, while the N part of the temple has been under discussion, even to the foundations. The temple dates, according to the latest interpretation, to the 2d c. B.C. On the N side in a spot called megaron by Pausanias, the remains of a large monumental altar have been found. The ancient city was located at the head of the plain of Terzi, to the W of the sanctuary. There the city walls have been identified, dating from the 5th-4th c. B.C., and the foundation of a temple has been found under a Byzantine chapel.

G. Bermond Montanari, 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 bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.


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