Sanctuary of Artemis Brauronia

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Description

Reconstruction of the Sanctuary of Artemis Brauronia by Kronoskaf - Snapshot of the real time rendering of the prototype
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Reconstruction of the Sanctuary of Artemis Brauronia by Kronoskaf - Snapshot of the real time rendering of the prototype

A first Brauronion, or sanctuary of Artemis Brauronia, was erected on the Akropolis around 515 BC. The Classical sanctuary, built around 435 BC, adopted the shape of an irregular rectangle and was located between the Cyclopean wall on the west, the Fortification Wall of the Akropolis on the south, the precinct of the Chalkotheke on the east and, on the north, a limestone wall some 4 m high resting on a scarp cut into the bedrock. This latter wall had a flight of seven 2 m wide steps, hewn out of the rock, giving access to the sanctuary.

The Brauronion was designed to harmonize with the Propylaea and was built in three phases. During the first one, the east wall was erected and a small Doric stoa, some 15 m from the south wall, built against this east wall. During the second phase, the existing Doric stoa was rebuilt and an additionnal stoa (8.25 m by 5.5 m) erected on the east. Another stoa occupied the south side of the sanctuary, its west corner was bonded into the Citadel wall. However the south wall of the stoa was distinct from Citadel wall, leaving a narrow passageway. An adjoining west wing may have been built but no evidence remains of this construction. Finally, during the third construction phase in the time of Mnesikles, the east stoa was replaced by a longer one extending to the north wall of the sanctuary and seven steps were cut into the bedrock.

Each year (???), in this sanctuary, young Athenian girls (around 10 years old) performed the rite of the arkteia. During this rite, they danced around the altar of Artemis, pretending to be she-bears.

Outside the precinct, there were votive offerings (stelai and other monuments) all along its northern wall.

Stoa

The south stoa measured some 38.50 m wide by 7.25 m deep. Its north facing colonnade counted 10 Doric columns, between antae. The adjoining wings at each end, which were not accessible from the stoa, measured some 7.25 m deep by 10.50 m wide. Each of these wings had a door in its north wall.

The east stoa added at the time of Mnesikles was 17,5 m wide and 7.25 m deep. It counted 5 Doric columns between antae.

Two statues probably stood outside the precinct but near its entrance:

  • a statue, made by Myron (before 450 BC), depicting Perseus holding Medusa's head
  • a statue, made by Myron's son Lykios, depicting a young boy holding a sprinkler

Statue of Artemis Brauronia

The wooden cult statue of Artemis Brauronia was housed in one of the two wings. It represented Artemis seated.

Statue of Epikharinos

Drawing representing the statue of Epikharinos made by Kritios and Nesiotes around 463 BC. Source: Sophie Maheux
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Drawing representing the statue of Epikharinos made by Kritios and Nesiotes around 463 BC. Source: Sophie Maheux

According to Pausanias, there was a statue of the athlete Epikharinos during a hoplitodromos within the precinct of the sanctuary. It had been sculptured by Kritios and Nesiotes around 463 BC.

Later Features

The temple and colossal statue of Artemis were not yet erected during our period of reference (421 BC). In fact, they were created much later in 346 BC.

Similarly, the large bronze group depicting the Trojan Horse (6 m high) made by Stongylon was dedicated by Khairedemos, son of Euangelos, around 415 BC. This colossal bronze group also depicted four life-size Greek warriors: Menestheus, and Damophon and Akamas (the two sons of Theseus).

References

Brouskari, Maria; The Monuments of the Acropolis, Athens: Archaeological Receipts Fund, 2001

Hill, Ida Thallon; The Ancient City of Athens – Its Topography and Monuments, London: Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1953

Hurwit, Jeffrey M.; The Acropolis in the Age of Pericles, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004

Travlos, John, Pictorial dictionary of Ancient Athens, Books that matter, New York, 1971, p. 124

To Do

  • Try to find out how the small statuette of Tubingen depicting a hoplitodromos looks like
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