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Images from the Archaeological Museum of Dion



1.Templos griegos

3.Órdenes arquitectónicos


2.Clases de templos griegos

1 Órdenes

2 Plantas

3.Òrdenes arquitectónicos

4.El Megarón

5.Edificio del culto arcaico de Lefkandi, Eubea, 1.000 a.C .

6.Templos Edad Obscura:1.Santuario de Thermon,Eolia

7.Templos Edad Obscura

y Arcaica   3.Heraion de Argos  , s.VIII

8.Templos Edad Obscura y Arcaica  .Templo de Ártemis Orthia, Esparta,s .VIII

9.Templos Edad Obscuray Arcaica  : Heraion de Olimpia,s.VII

10.Templos Edad Obscura y Arcaica  :Templo de Atenea en Gorinos, Tesalia,s.VII

11.Templos Edad Obscura y Arcaica :Templo de Demeter en Selinunte,628 a.C.

12.Templos Edad Obscura y Arcaica :Templos A y B de Prinias, Creta,s.VII a.C.

13.Templos Edad Obscura y Arcaica :Templo de Apolo Pitio en Gortina,Creta,S.VII

14.Templos Edad Obscura y Arcaica :Templo de Neandria, Troya, s.VII a. C.

15. Templos Edad Obscura y Arcaica : Perachora

16.Templos Edad Obscura y Arcaica  :Dreros, Creta




fire    fire


                       8.Templos Edad Obscura y Arcaica  .

                   Templo de Ártemis Orthia, Esparta, s .VIII


The cult of the godess Artemis Orthia

Artemis was the goddess of fertility and childbirth, protector of children and women’s health. She was associated with forests and uncultivated places. She is sometimes called the 'mistress of the wild thing' and is shown in art as a woman (sometimes with wings) holding animals. Orthia was an earlier Spartan goddess about whom little is known. The combining of the two deities became a particular Spartan religious observance.



Peloponnese & Sterea Hellas






Slide 1 of 31

Sanctuaries in Lakonia


    Dr David Gill

    University of Wales Swansea




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Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia Selecting this link will take you to an external site.

The sanctuary of Artemis Orthia stood near the Eurotas River outside the centre of Sparta.

Click here Selecting this link will take you to an external site. for another view of the sanctuary of Artemis Orthia.

Here there were temples, altars and an area for spectators. Below is a photograph of the ruins of the Temple of Artemis Orthia as it appears today. Beyond, in the distance, are the Taygetos Mountains.

Ruins of the Temple of Artemis Orthia

The cult had the following features: May / June was a time of separation of young men in the wild and a cheese-stealing ritual at the altar of Artemis Orthia. The altar was defended by older youths with whips. An endurance test took place in front of family and friends. Songs and dances were followed by a parade of the young men in fine clothes after their ordeal. At the site archaeologists have found many small votive lead figurines and masks used in the cult.

Click here Selecting this link will take you to an external site. to view some of the exhibits from the museum at Sparti (modern Sparta), including one of the clay masks excavated at the excavation site of Artemis Orthia.



                The Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia.

The Sanctuary was founded in the 10th century B.C. and at the beginning was not monumental since it was a temenos consisted of only one altar in the open air. At the end of the 9th century B.C. this older altar was replaced by a larger one, this time built with stones.
The first temple having stone foundation was constructed in the middle of the 8th century B.C. The temple suffered great destruction caused by flood at the beginning of the 6th century B.C. but soon after was built again.
The large Archaic temple which is preserved until our days , was constructed at that time. The temple consists of cella and pronaos with two doric columns at the East side. A significant restoration of the temple and the altar was done probably at the beginning of the 2nd century B.C. Finally, during the 3rd century A.D. (after 225 A.D.) the Roman horse-shoe shaped amphitheatre was built in front of the temple, while the temple itself was probably restored. The amphitheatre was intended to facilitate the people attending the sacred ceremonies that were taking place inside the temple, in favour of the godess. At the same time they built another oblong altar but a bit closer to the temple.

The Sanctuary was excavated by the British Archaeological School At Athens during the years 1906-1910. The results of the investigations were published by R. M. Dawkins et al. (1928), in the Annual of the British School At Athens, under the title: "The Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia at Sparta".

No restoration work has yet been undertaken on the site.


The most important monuments of the site are:

  • In the area of the sanctuary which is located in the ancient "demos" (district) of Limnes at Sparta, the excavations conducted by the British Archaeological School At Athens, at the beginning of the century, revealed remains of successive phases in the construction of the temple of Artemis Orthia. The last phase is dated to the Hellenistic period but interventions were also made in the temple , during the Roman period.
  • East of the temple is preserved the big oblong altar which was made of stone slabs.
  • South of these sacred places was founded a large horse-shoe shaped amphitheatre which is nowadays preserved in a quite good condition. This construction was used by worshippers and people attending the ceremonies and the games of youths, which were taking place at the area of the sanctuary.
  • The clay masks which were found at the area are an indication of the orgiastic ceremonies.
  • The marble stelai depicting sickles

  •  and the inscribed altars are connected with their donors. These were children which had successfully passed the test of whipping before they could enter the adolescents' teams.
The modern town of Sparta, as seen from the site of the Mycenaean citadel, looking across to Mount Taygetus. The medieval town of Mistra can be seen on the first hilltop to the right. This shows well the situation of Sparta, in a fertile valley but surrounded by mountains. Taygetus was the most formidable mountain range in southern Greece, but beyond it was the other fertile plain, that of Messenia, which the Spartans conquered.




Two of the lead plaques found at the temple of Artemis Orthia, which first demonstrated the quality of early Spartan metalworking.

Left is a musician(?), right a gorgon







Santuario de Artemis Orthia. Vista aérea




The Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia was one of the most important religious sites in the Greek city of Sparta.


The Sanctuary

The cult of Orthia was common to the four villages originally constituting Sparta: Limnai, Pitana, Kynosoura and Mesoa. Chronologically speaking, it probably came after the cult to the city-goddess Athena, Πολιοῦχος / Polioũkhos "protectress of the city" or Χαλκίοικος / Khalkíoikos "of the bronze house".


The sanctuary is located in a natural basin between Limnai and the west bank of the river Evrotas. The oldest relics, pottery fragments from the late Greek Dark Ages, indicate that the cult has probably existed since the 9th century BC. Originally, the cult celebrated its rituals on a rectangular earthen altar. At the very beginning of the 8th century BC, the Temenos was paved with river stones and surrounded by a trapezoidal wall. A wood and stone altar was then built as well as a temple. The works were financed by the wars waged by Sparta.


Theater remains with the river Evrotas in the background

A second temple was built in 570 BC, during the joint reign of Leo of Sparta and Agasicles as military successes provided funds. The terrain was raised and consolidated, undoubtedly following erosion caused by the Evrotas. An altar and a temple of limestone, oriented the same way as the previous buildings, were built on a bed of river sand. The surrounding wall was also enlarged, and at this stage took on a rectangular form. The second temple was entirely rebuilt in the 2nd century BC, except for the altar, which was replaced in its turn in the 3rd century AD when the Romans built an amphitheatre to welcome tourists to the diamastigosis (see below)

Timeline based on a 1929 publication


The cult

Representation of the goddess on an ivory votive offering, National Archaeological Museum of Athens (Source)

Primitive cult elements

Originally, the cult of Orthia was a pre-anthropomorphic and pre-Olympian religion. The inscriptions simply mentioned "Orthia" [2]. The cult addressed a xoanon (rude wooden effigy) of malevolent reputation. It was reputedly from Tauride, where it was stolen by Orestes and Iphigeneia. Pausanias best describes the subsequent origin of the diamastigosis (ritual flagellation):


"I will give other evidence that the Orthia in Lacedaemon is the wooden image from the foreigners. Firstly, Astrabacus and Alopecus, sons of Irbus, son of Amphisthenes, son of Amphicles, son of Agis, when they found the image straightway became insane. Secondly, the Spartan Limnatians, the Cynosurians, and the people of Mesoa and Pitane, while sacrificing to Artemis, fell to quarrelling, which led also to bloodshed; many were killed at the altar and the rest died of disease. Whereat an oracle was delivered to them, that they should stain the altar with human blood. He used to be sacrificed upon whomsoever the lot fell, but Lycurgus changed the custom to a scourging of the ephebos, and so in this way the altar is stained with human blood. By them stands the priestess, holding the wooden image. Now it is small and light, but if ever the scourgers spare the lash because of a lad's beauty or high rank, then at once the priestess finds the image grow so heavy that she can hardly carry it. She lays the blame on the scourgers, and says that it is their fault that she is being weighed down. So the image ever since the sacrifices in the Tauric land keeps its fondness for human blood. They call it not only Orthia, but also Lygodesma (Λυγοδέσμα - Willow-bound), because it was found in a thicket of willows, and the encircling willow made the image stand upright. [3](III, 16, 9–11)"


According to Plutarch, writing in Life of Aristide (17, 8), the ceremony is a re-enactment memorializing an episode in the Greco-Persian Wars[4].


In addition to the flagellation of the diamastigosis, the cult entailed individual dances by young men and dances by choruses of girls. For the young men, the prize is a sickle, which implies an agricultural ritual.


The presence of ex-votos (votive offerings) attests to the popularity of the cult: clay masks representing old women or hoplites as well as lead and terra cotta figures showing men and women playing the flute, lyre, or cymbals, or mounting a horse.



The cult of Orthia gave rise to διαμαστίγωσις / diamastigosis (from διαμαστιγῶ / diamastigô, "to whip harshly"), where Ephebos were flogged, as described by Plutarch, Xenophon, Pausanius and Plato. Cheeses were piled on the altar and guarded by adults with whips. The young men would attempt to get them, braving the whips. At least to the Roman era, the priestess could control the force of the flogging; according to Pausanius she carried the xoanon during the ritual, and if it grew too heavy for her she would blame the floggers as described above.
artemispatrooanimals.gif (20048 bytes)

Ártemis ,Señora de los animales

During the Roman period, according to Cicero, the ritual became a blood spectacle, sometimes to the death, with spectators from all over the empire (Tusculanae Quaestiones, II, 34). An amphitheatre had to be built in the 3rd century to accommodate the tourists. Libanios indicates that the spectacle was attracting the curious as late as the 4th century.


Sanctuary votive offerings showing busts of animals, National Archaeological Museum of Athens (Source)

Excavation of the site

The site was brought to light at the beginning of the 20th century by the British school of archaeology during their digs in Laconia. At the time, the site appeared to consist only of a ruined Roman theatre, largely pillaged after the foundation of modern Sparta in 1834, and about to collapse into the river. The archaeologists, under the leadership of R.M. Dawkins, quickly found evidence of Greek occupation. Dawkins writes, "The Roman theatre was easy to protect...a large quantity of ancient objects which by the light they shed on primitive Sparta, have given this dig capital significance."

Stele of Xenokles with facade of the Temple relief

Stele of Primos, dedication to Artemis Ortheia

The first campaign lasted five seasons during which Dawkins published A History of the Sanctuary in 1910. It was marked by an intense focus on stratigraphy. The 1924–-1928 campaign in Sparta also included a cleanup of the Orthia site in 1928.



Ivory busts of the goddess; votive offerings, National Archaeological Museum of Athens (Source)



  1. Text from French Wikipedia
  2. ^ There are several variant spellings, such as "Orthria"; the lyric poet Alcman (Parthénies, I, v. 61), called her "Aotis".
  3. ^ Pausanias. Description of Greece. Trans. W.H.S. Jones and H.A. Ormerod 1918. available online at [1] accessed 22 May 2006.
  4. ^ " this day, in imitation of this onslaught, the ceremonies of beating the young warriors round the altar at Sparta, and of the procession of the Lydians which follows this, are duly celebrated as rites" Plutarch, Lives (III, 17, 8). trans Translation by. Bernadotte Perrin 1914. online at [2] accessed 22 May 2006.



  • (French)P. Bonnechère, Orthia et la flagellation des éphèbes spartiates : un souvenir chimérique de sacrifice humain, Kernos, 6, 1993, 11-22 ;
  • Paul Cartledge, Sparta and Lakonia. A Regional History 1300 to 362 BC. Routledge, New York, 2002 (2nd edn) ISBN 0-415-26276-3
  • R.M. Dawkins (dir.), The Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia at Sparta, Journal of Hellenic Studies, supplement no. 5, London, 1929
  • (French)Henri Jeanmaire, Couroi et Courètes : essai sur l'éducation spartiate et sur les rites d'adolescence dans l'Antiquité hellénique, Lille, Bibliothèque universitaire, 1939
  • (French)Edmond Lévy, Sparte : histoire politique et sociale jusqu’à la conquête romaine, Seuil, "Points Histoire" collection, Paris, 2003 ISBN 2020324539
  • A. Spawforth, "Spartan Cults Under the Roman Empire", Philolakon: Lakonian Studies in Honour of Hector Catling, Jan Motyka Sanders ed., London, 1992
  • (Spanish) A. Vegas Sansalvador, " Ϝορθασία, Ὀρθία y Ἄρτεμις Ὀρθία en Laconia", Emerita n° 64 (1996), p. 275–288.




Artemis orthia _3.jpg (19862 bytes) Artemis orthia _2.jpg (16346 bytes)


Artemis orthia.jpg (25164 bytes)

Acropolis of Sparta

The remains from the temple of Orthia Artemis.


View of the Taÿgetus Mountains from the Spartan Acropolis




The most important archelogical site of sparta is the sanctuary of Arthemis orthia located at the entrance of the modern city,  excavated during the years of 1906-1910. The sanctuary is located along the north bank of river Eurotas, and its history starts around the 10th century B.C. The sanctuary was build around 1100 B.C. During the 6th century B.C. and probably because of a flood, the sanctuary was destroyed , and a new and bigger one was build , very close to the its original location..The sanctuary was again rebuilt at the beginning of the 2nd Century A.C. The latest renovation took place during the 3rd century A.C. when the sanctuary and the altar were combined into a ampitheartical temple with a dimeter of 54 m, which was used until the destroyal of Sparta from Alarihos at 396 A.C.

At the sanctuary the ancient Spartans, used to perform dances wearing masks and the place used to be the center for the Agogi (the educational system for the young Spartans).


  Sactuary of Artemis Orthia    


spartaacrop2 artemisorthia
View from the acropolis of Sparta towards the Taygetos Mountains.
The ancient acropolis now is a park covered in olive trees
The remains of the temple of Artemis Orthia

Colgantes en forma de adormidera del Santuario de Artemis Orthia

16. Pendants from Sparta

Full size image: 13 kB, 16. Pendants from Sparta

We also note the existence of many pins [ 90] in Vaphio in Laconia, in the sanctuary of Artemis Orthia at Sparta (Fig. 17 right), and in the temple of Aphaia at Ægina (Fig. 17 left). By some these pin-heads are presumed, in our view wrongly, to represent pomegranate buds.

From the texts already quoted we know that there was in the vicinity of Corinth an ancient city called Mekone by Hesiod, and later named Sikyon. According to some commentators on Hesiod, [ 100] the city owed its name to the extensive cultivation of the poppy near its site. Others consider that it was called Mekone because Demeter there first dicovered the fruit of the poppy.

Professor Marinatos [ 101] mentions that a local legend held that Demeter presented the poppies in person to the city.

17.left and right, pins from Ægina and Sparta respectively

Full size image: 10 kB, 17.left and right, pins from Ægina and Sparta respectively

The only definite information given by a classical author is that in Pausanias [ 102] according to which a statue of Aphrodite stood in the temple of the goddess at Sikyon; in one hand the goddess held a poppy, in the other an apple.

Whilst the texts give a very poor yield, the objects unearthed by the archœlogist's spade in the region have brought forth a rich harvest of information which complements and even confirms or explains what is gleaned from the texts.

Many reproductions of the poppy-capsule in clay have been found and are now deposited in the Museum at Old Corinth. A typical reproduction of the capsule is that found by Verdelis [ 103] at the sanctuary of Solygeia near Galataki (Fig. 18). This is beautifully fashioned, and does not bear notches. Verdelis considers it to have been an offering connected with the worship of Hera.

18. Poppy capsule in clay

Full size image: 12 kB, 18. Poppy capsule in clay

It is 6.5 cm in length including the stalk and 3 cm in diameter, and clearly shows the body of the capsule and the point (Dioskourides's asterisk), as well as the stalk with its "knee ". The appearance of the capsule when viewed from above, as well as that of capsules in Fig. 19, reminds us of the pins on the shoulders of goddesses in figurines of various areas, especially noticeable in the figurines from Galataki. Fig. 19 (a) is an offertory plate with a clay capsule-shaped protuberance in the centre.