Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Inner Sanctum Discovery Volume 56 Number 2, March/April 2003
by Jarrett A. Lobell


(Courtesy Alexander Mazarkis-Ainian) [LARGER IMAGE]

Archaeologists excavating a seventh-to-fifth-century B.C. temple on the remote Cycladic island of Kythnos have made a once-in-a-lifetime discovery: the temple's unplundered adyton, or innermost shrine.

Alexander Mazarakis-Ainian and his team from the University of Thessalia were shocked to find over fourteen hundred precious objects in the room, including gold, silver, and bronze artifacts; terra-cotta figurines; and hundreds of complete and broken painted vases, some of which have been linked to known master painters of ancient Greece. One of the most fascinating finds from the temple, which was dedicated to either Hera or Aphrodite, is a small stone bead with a carving of a boat. Dated to the Bronze Age (3300-1100 B.C.), the bead is the kind of "family heirloom" known to have been offered at Greek temples.

Although an unplundered ancient treasury is the stuff of Indiana Jones, Mazarakis-Ainian says that "the importance of the discoveries is not so much the valuable is the conditions of the finds, the fact that they were found untouched."

© 2003 by the Archaeological Institute of America