Archaeologists Reportedly Found Sanctuary of Poseidon of Samicum, Described in Ancient Texts

Author: Clark Tos
2022-10-15 18:33:02

During excavations in the foothills of the ancient acropolis of Samicum in Greece , archaeologists may have found the Samicum sanctuary of Poseidon.

Credit: Ministry of Culture and Sports

According to the Greek Reporter, archaeologists unearthed large sections of the foundations of a building 9.4 meters wide with heavy stone walls nearly a meter thick. The remains have been dated to the 6th century BC.

The Sanctuary of Poseidon at Samicum was the regionally important religious center of the six cities of Triphylia, according to the ancient sources Strabo and Pausanias. They formed an amphictyony, a confederation dedicated to the defence, maintenance and veneration of a site of worship. Strabo's Geography, Book VIII: “Next comes the mountain of Triphylia which separates Macistia from Pisatis; then another river called Chalcis, and a spring called Cruni, and a village called Chalcis, and, after these, Samicum, where is the most revered temple of the Samian Poseidon. Surrounding the temple is a sacred enclosure filled with wild olive trees. The people of Macistum were in charge of it, and it was they too who proclaimed the day of the armistice called 'Samien'. But all Triphylians contribute to the upkeep of the temple. »

Credit: Ministry of Culture and Sports

The location where the potential temple was found corresponds to the texts of the ancient Greek geographer Strabo who spoke about the temple in his work “Geographica”. Samicum, also called Samicum, was an ancient city of the Helladic period, located in the Peloponnese on the Kleidi hill, near Kato Samiko, halfway between the mouths of the Alpheius and the Neda. Scholars have proposed, based on ancient descriptions, that the Temple of Poseidon was on a plain below the ancient acropolis of Samicum whose remains are on the top of the hill overlooking the Ionian Sea.

A possible temple site was suggested following ongoing investigations conducting geophysical studies in 2017, 2018 and 2021. This year, archaeologists of the Ephorate, the Austrian Archaeological Institute, the University of Mainz and the University of Kiel undertook the first comprehensive excavation of the site as part of a five-year program of exploration of the area aimed at identifying the sanctuary and the ancient port of Samicum.

Credit: Ministry of Culture and Sports

An extraordinary discovery

The Athens branch of the Austrian Archaeological Institute explains in a Facebook post: “Thick layers of tiles fill the space between the walls. Based on the anomalies of geophysics, one can calculate a building at least 28 meters long, which had two interior rooms. The large, elongated building can only be an archaic temple on the site of Poseidon's sanctuary, perhaps even dedicated to the god himself. »

In connection with the fragments of a laconic roof, the discovery of a marble perirhanterion provides elements allowing us to date the large building to the archaic period. The large marble vessel itself, imitating a bronze cup, is characteristic of the inventory of a sanctuary. This exceptional discovery sheds new light on the political and economic importance of the amphictyony of the Triphilic cities in the sixth century BC, when the sanctuary of Poseidon at Samicum served as the center of their religious and ethnic identity.