ANTIQUITIES OF POROS
In Mycenae you will have the opportunity to see the Cyclopean walls, the palace of King Agamemnon and the two royal burial enclosures.
You will also be impressed by the treasure of Atreus (vaulted tomb), the vaulted Tomb of Clytemnestra, the Lion Gate, the Royal Palace, the North Gate and the underground tank.
Many findings from the excavations in Mycenae are dispayed at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens and at the new, modern Mycenae Museum on the north slope of the Acropolis.
The Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus built in a ravine in 340 BC by the architect Poliklitos jr. from Argos, according to Pausanias. It has wonderful acoustics, a capacity of 13,000 spectators and is divided into two parts. The first part is that of 21 rows of seats for the common people and the second part is that of 34 seats for the priests and rulers.
The Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus is in a very good condition. We have got the Epidaurus festival institution that has been going on for many years. At Epidaurus has appeared, apart from some of the largest Greek actors as Alexis Minotis, Thanos Kotsopoulos, Anna Synodinou Thanasis Vengos etc., and the famous Greek soprano Maria Callas.
In the city of Nafplio you can admire its Ancient Acropolis that is built on top of a conical hill, situated at an altitude of 270 meters from the sea and 170 meters from the surrounding area.
The Venetian Castle of Palamidi is at the east of Nafplio's town on a hill at an altitude of 216 meters. It was named after the local hero Palamedes, son of Nafplios. It was built and fortified during the second Venetian period (1686-1715) from Ziaxich and Lassalle. It is a typical baroque fortress and composed of 8 independent bastions.
Bourtzi, a small islet with a castle on it, has been erected by the Venetians, just outside the port, after the withdrawal of Pasha Maxmout in 1473.
The Ancient Troizina
Ancient Troizina was a city that flourished during long periods of time, while at other times it played a minor role, obscured by larger city centers. The only certain is that it had an economically robust social class, which have had wealth and participated in several national sporting events.
The needs of this class were met by the creation of a local bronze vessels production factory, which was popular for at least two centuries.
The Ancient City had Walls, a Citadel, an Agora (Market) and many Temples west of the today's village. It was built on the north slope of Mount Aderes.
From the Ancient City there are little that are saved, since others were destroyed and others were used for later constructions.
From the things that are saved, there are exceptional findings which are kept in the Archaeological Museum of Poros and at the National Archaeological Museum.
The limits of the Ancient City were a stream to the east (the stream of Agios Athanasios) and a stream to the west (Gefyraio stream or Chrysorroas). The Acropolis of the Ancient City was located on a hill to the south at an altitude of 313 meters. According to Pausanias the city was surrounded by a Wall built with bricks.
At the Agora there was the Temple of Artemis made from aeginian limestone. Inside the Temple was a monument of Pitheas with three thrones that Pitheas and two other judges was sitting.
South of the Temple was the Temple of the Muses, where today there are some Roman remainings of a building.
Also at the Agora there was the Temple of Zeus, founded by Aetius, with altars and arcades.
Also close to the Agora there was the Theatre of Troizina and next to it the Temple of Likias Artemis, the Temple of Thearios Apollo. In between these two temples was the Sacred Stone and at the end of Agora the Stoa of Troizina.
As we said before, at the top of the hill was the Acropolis, and the Temple of Sthenias Athina.
At the east and west of the Ancient City there were the Cemetaries in a rural area with soft ground at the edge of the rivers.
During the excavations of the archaeologist Maria Giannopoulou at the eastern cemetery of ancient Troizina, it has been retrieved a tomb of an infant, along with clay bottle and three other vessels that were deposited as an offering. It dates back to the 7th century BC.
Other findings from the same excavation is a sitting doll, two winged Cupids, one of which is represented by a children form wrapped in a garment and the other as a naked teen, as well as two female dancers figurines with lively movement, two massive iron rings, some pots and two more teats that came to light in another child's burial, which dated to the Hellenistic period. It was a burial in a jar, which had even been repaired with lead joints, as is often done in ancient times.
Two more children burials, one from the late 8th century BC and the other from the 7th century BC, were found with small pots.
The funerary activity begins from the ProtoGeometriki era, as evidenced by a written text on an amphora of the 10th century BC, and reaches the Hellenistic era, as says Ms. Giannopoulou.
Recent excavations unearthed a total of fifteen burials of all kinds and a marble funerary precinct of the 4th century BC
Particularly striking were the findings of three of the tombs containing bronze objects such as mirrors, bells with iron impactor, a beetle, a Gold ring, iron strigils, iron arrowheads, as well as a lead compass and many vases at the shape of a boy's head.
"The copper pots and pans from the Classical and early Hellenistic graves of Trizina are small and related to serving and drinking wine" says Ms. Giannopoulou.
"As for the bronze bells and the bronze vessels, they can be considered as chthonic objects and related to the Dionysian cult" she adds.
The presence of many bronze objects of excellent quality is considered that it may indicate the presence of local metalwork workshops.
In conclusion, as the archaeologist says, at the Ancient Troizina were a conservative rural society without much commercial activity.
The Asklipieio of Troizina
Northwest of the ancient city are the Ruins of Asklipieio built in the late 4th and early 3rd century BC. It was a rectangular building with an interior courtyard and rooms on three sides, where traces of beds, tables and fireplaces were found. It must therefore be the rooms of the sick.
On the other side there was a large hall with an internal colonnade. From this building you could pass through a corridor to another building with a hall and a courtyard that must have been the Infirmary.
The mild climate and the clean water of the springs, were importand to the operation of the sanatorium. In the south wall of the enclosure there are remains of a fountain. Also someone can look at the remainings of the foundations of several buildings (rooms, hostels, treatment rooms).
The existence of scripts confirms the Asklipieio's operation, but it seems that the Asklipieio in Epidavrus overshadowed the one in Troizina. This happened mainly because of the volcano ereption that happened in Methana town in the middle of the 3rd century b.C. The buildings were then serious damaged and remained in ruins until the Roman times, when they was repaired.
After the advent of Christianity, building materials from the Asklipieio used to construct Christian Churches, such as the Church of the Holy Mary in Episkopi.
The shrine of Hippolytus
A very analytic publication have been made from the archaeologist Helen Oikonomidou about the shrine of Hippolytus.
The shrine is directly linked to the myth of Phaedra's love towards Hippolytus. The fact that this widespread myth is associated with the history of the sanctuary is definitely an attraction for visitors.
The shrine of Hippolytus is a remarkable archaeological site, which remains unknown to the general public and is located inside an idyllic natural environment, stretching north and northwest of the modern town of Troizina.
The excavations started first with the French Archaeological School during 1890 and 1899 with Legrand, and later in 1932 by the German Archaeological Institute with Welter, who completed the excavation.
The shrine of Hippolytus was outside the walls of the city, west of Gefyraio ravine, approximately 800 m. from the ancient market.
In mythology, Hippolytus was the son of Theseus and the Amazon Antiope or Hippolyta. According to the legend, after the death of Antiope, Theseus married Phaedra and sent the toddler Hippolytus in Troizina, to be brought up and become the king of Troizina. Years Later in Troizina, when Phaedra saw the Hippolytus fell in love with him. She tried to win his love by sending him letters but failed (see. Stephanephoroi Euripides' Hippolytus, written in 428 BC) and so she decided to commit suicide.
But to revengr Hippolytus for not wanting her, before her suicide she wrote a letter to Theseus saying lies about Hippolytus. Theseus believed the letter and asked of the god Poseidon to kill his son. According to legend the goddess Artemis saddened by his death brought him up to life.
According to the local tradition, the shrine of Hippolytus was built by Diomidis, who worshiped god Apollo, because he believed the god saved him from bad weather during his return from the war of Troia.
Pausanias who visited the temple in the 2nd century AD, says that the stadium where Hippolytus exercised was north of Episkopi and higher was the Temple of Venus , from where Phaedra (Pausanias II.32.3) secretly watching him exercising. Nearby was the grave of Phaedra and Hippolytus tomb.
Pausanias (Pausanias II.32.4) even describes the house of Hippolytus, with its spring of Hercules, which probably served the Asklipieio, that had declined in the time of Pausanias. Probably, this spring helped in the legend that wants Hippolytus to be worshipped as a god-healer.
600 meters from the settlement of Troizina we reach in a crossroad where we can see a hugr rock believed to be the rock of Theseus, which lift to take from below the sword of his father.
At the north of the chapels of Saint Georgios and Saint John, have been descovered remainings of the ancient Temple of Artemis. This monument is difficult to be seen because is hidden behind vegetation.
In a small distance from the palace of Theseus there is the Temple of Panas and the tomb of Pitheas.
Along the eastern wall of the Acropolis are the remainings of the Temples of Isis and Aphrodite. Outside the city was the Shrine of Fitalmios Poseiodon and in a near distance the Shrine of Dimitras, made by Althipos. Further along we find the springs of Ilikos river, where Theseus had built the Temple of Nimfia Aphrodite. Also some other roman tombs have been discovered.
At the end of the Hellenistic period a partition was built which separated the main City from the outskirts and provided better protection for Acropolis, in a case of a siege. From this partition are saved the remainings of two square castles and the lower part of a bigger one known as the "Palace of Theseus". During the Middle Ages, a castle was bulit on this location from the Frank ruler of the area. Recently came to light a Christian basilica church east of the Gefyraio river.
From Galatas, taking the road to Troizina in about 3 kilometers and on the right, there are The vaulted Royal Tombs of Magoulas from the Mycenaean era, a significant sample of the Mycenaean civilization.
A small mesoelladic Acropolis has been discovered on the hill (800 m. lenght) of Megalis Magoulas. The Royal Tombs are located at the western end of the hill.
Three vaulted tombs have been discovered, the first one is from the 16th century BC, the second, the largest, belongs to the Early Mycenaean period of the 15th century BC, and the third one is of the 13th century BC.
The oldest of the Tombs (16th b.C.) forms on the inside a circle with a diameter of 5 meters and has a megalithic entrance, without the characteristic entrance of the usual vaulted Mycenaean tombs. The second is very large (11 meters) and the third is the smallest (3,80 meters).
The most majestic of the three tombs is the second one and is estimated to have the height of a three-storey building. Its diameter reaches the 11 meters and is covered by a 60 meter in diameter tumulus and is dated back to the 15th b.C.
Although the tombs found plundered, the excavation revealed in it figurines, gold jewelry, exquisite art and an amphora from Canaan, meanng there were trade relations between the East and Crete.
These findings were evidence that the dead were prominennt members of society before the Trojan war, but at the era that Theseus must have lived.
The Temple of Poseidon is an important monument with great significance for Poros island today. The excavations have given a plethora of findings that may change the things we know of the religious life in Greece. Each excavation in the Temple bring new evidence of how the people lived then.
In the area of the Temple of Poseidon, apart from the Shrine there was a whole complex of other auxiliary buildings, which framed the Shrine. These buildings are more well preserved that the Shrine itself, which only remainings of it are left. All of these give to the archaeologists a plethora of information regarding the way the ancient Poriots lived and worshipped the god. So when we regard the "Temple of Poseidon" we mean mainly the auxiliary buildings that have been discovered via the excavations, thanks to the efforts of the archaeological team there.
Early archaeologists who excavated the Temple of Poseidon were the Swedish Samuel Wide and Lennart Kjellberg at the late 19th century. Wide came to Poros island in 1894, bringing with him some workers from the german excavations in Olympia. These excavations showed that at the area were extensive facilities. Later this excavation cancelled and resumed at 1997.
The first excavation season, which lasted from 1997 to 2005 proceeded slowly due to the lack of resources, but the progress which was made was significant. It has been discovered that there was not only one Shrine, but a whole worship building complex with auxiliary building, passages, e.t.c. with a town next to it. This was in accordance with the ancient references showcasing the Temple as the epicenter of a whole religious federation of cities. The new phase of the excavation continues until today.
As is known to the most Poriots, the Temple of Poseidon is not reach in impressive monuments, as we are used to seeing in other Temples of Greece. The Shrine of Poseidon and other buildings it had was used as building materials to construct Churches and Monasteries in Poros island and in Hydra island, a common practise at these years. This we know it because of an eyewitness named Richard Chandler.
Morover, it is wrong to believe that at the site of the Temple of Poseidon there is nothing to see. The findings are not the most impressive, but are important and interesting. From the architectural scope there is a row of building's remainings visible to the visitor. Also the excavation has brought out important building elements, which give more indications as to how the people lived and their place.
The excavation also brought to light a well preserved inscription, an offer from the near town of Arsinoi (today the town is called Palaiokastro) to the god Poseidon. This inscription was the base for two statues, the queen Arsinoi and the king Ptolemaios, which are yet to be found. Close to it were found pieces of an older building. Also there have been found pieces of upright columns, probably six meters in height, offers to the god Poseidon.
Apart from the above important discoveries, there are others about the daily life and gods worship which led by the people of Poros island. At the excavations it is comming to light a plethora of mini objects like hooks, dishes or peaks of spears etc. that depict the life at that time on the island, the people's interests and their food habits. It is known, for example, that some day during the 165 year b.C., a great feast took place at the Temple. In this feast there were probably 150 guests who ate a variety of fish, meat, birds, eggs and sea food. This food variety shows us that maybe the food had been tranfered from other places to Poros island and maybe that the guests brought them with them. The feasts's remainings have been discovered being buried and covered with stones and dirt in a corner of the Temple. Close to this place was a deep water tank. When this water tank opened, during the excavation period of 2004-2005, it gave us the most peculiar findings: dog bones with traces of knife and fire, meaning the dog was cooked and eaten. Also snake bones which had the same fate. Also parts of horses, eggs, fish, frogs. Maybe all these aminal remainings were some kind of a unique ceremony.
At the same time, new technologies today allow for the creation of three-dimensional depictions of ancient buildings. The digital representation gave us the depiction of the so called "building D", which is the impressive wall we see in front of us as we enter the archaeological site. Based on a random finding of the excavations, we are now able to create a digital representation of the Temple of Poseidon as it was in ancient times. It is the first accurate representation based on architectural elements and Poriots will be the first to see, even as a model, the Temple the ancient inhabitants faced.
The Temple of Poseidon in the 20th century.
Apart for the historical information the Temple of Poseidon give us, it is also important for us for the lives of today's inhabitants.
Lets not forget the location has been characterized as an archaeological place recently. Until then this Temple had a long history of use, not always of religious use. One of our primary goals is to study these uses. For example we know that in the Temple area used to live a family of retsina producers, the Makri family. The building constructed by the family have since then been demolished, but there are some remainings until today such the retsina tanks or the fireplace. Also at the Temple area archaeologists have left the olive trees and pine trees as an aesthetic decoration.
The archaeological place remains open all the year around, 24 hours a day. The entrance is free to everyone and free of price. Apart from an archaeological place is also a place for relaxation.
Aris Anagnostopoulos - Southampton University
(Great Britain), special investigator in the "Kalavria" Project
The exhibition, in the hall of the ground floor, depicts a large relief showing a dog that it was probably engraved on an ancient building . It was found in the St. George area in the valley of the Fousa, near the village Ano Fanari , which has long been known the existence of extensive ancient settlement and cemetery.
Also in the same area is a plaster cast of the famous Trizinian inscribed column with the text of the Athenian resolution proposed by Themistocles in 480 BC to deal with the Persian invasion . The original of this column, as is known, is currently in the Epigraphic Museum of Athens (EM 13330).
Also is exhibited a honorary decree of the town of Trizina for Echilao Filonidou of Plataea (369 BC).
The sculpture of the classical period is represented by two statues, a naked boy and a woman with chiton and himation coming from old excavations of Legrand to the citadel of Trizina and some tombstones of the 4th century BC, recent findings from the cemetery area of the ancient city of Trizina. Among the latter stands a remarkable funerary relief with an oversized woman's body, wearing a veil, all these made of marble.
An overview of the form of the capitals of the three main architectural styles and their evolution from the archaic to the Roman times are offered to the visitors with two examples of Corinthian capitals of the Roman period, one from Methana and the other from Trizina.
The early Christian architecture is represented also in the exhibition with capitals and suffixes, this time from the area of Trizina.
Also in the Museum you can see an engraved archaic inscription (around 600 BC) on a block made of trachyte, a funeral signal of Androcles found in Methana and an inscribed pedestal of a bronze statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius in Rome, dedicated by the city of Methana (175-180 AD.).