A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
A newly uncovered temple sits high in the
mountains of southwestern Greece. (Courtesy Xeni Arapogianni)
High atop Mount Kotylion in the region of Messenia, the area of
southwestern Greece known in antiquity as Arcadia, sits the famous fifth century
B.C. temple of Apollo Epicurius. Just one mile away, at roughly
the same 3,000-foot altitude, lie the remains of another temple that
was unknown until recently. Equally as impressive as its more famous
neighbor, this even older temple may also have been dedicated to Apollo.
In 1995, when Xeni Arapogianni, then the archaeological director of the region, first
came to the site across the ravine from the temple of Apollo Epicurius, she suspected that the hundreds of scattered worked limestone blocks might be
the remains of an ancient temple. After learning that many
of these blocks had been used in 1899 in the creation of the
nearby Church of the Prophet Elias, and were now being used
to rebuild the church, she had that construction work halted.
Now, more than a decade and a half later, Arapogianni has
finally been able to return to work at the site. Her team has
uncovered large foundations and more architectural fragments,
as well as copper jewelry, a bronze bowl, iron utensils, a bronze
statuette—possibly a warrior—holding a spear, and a pot
sherd bearing the Greek word for “dedication.” Also among
the finds is a bronze artifact with a lion’s head that may have
been part of a pot.
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Nikos Roupas is a freelance correspondent living in Greece.