Archaeologists on the island of Evia have unearthed the remains of a more than 2,000-year-old temple to the ancient Greek goddess of hunting, Artemis, after a quest that lasted more than 100 years, the Culture Ministry said Friday.
The find in the village of Amarynthos, some 110 kilometers northeast of Athens, was made by members of the Swiss School of Archaeology in Greece in cooperation with the Ephorate of Antiquities on Evia.
In a statement Friday, the Culture Ministry said that archaeologists were led to the sanctuary after summer excavations unearthed buildings dating from the 6th to 2nd centuries BC, as well as inscriptions and coins bearing the goddess’s name – indicating that she was worshipped by locals.
Citing ancient written sources, the ministry said the sanctuary was one of the most important in Evia and that it was mentioned in the tenth book of the Greek geographer Strabo, who died in the early first century.
“Since the 19th century, archaeologists have tried to locate this sanctuary, but this has not been possible, despite many assumptions,” the ministry said. It also noted that Strabo had misled experts because he made a mistake when he referred to the temple’s distance from the nearby city of Eretria.
Strabo’s error had been pointed out by Professor Denis Knoepfler, a historian and epigraphist at the University of Neuchatel in Switzerland and the College de France, who said that the temple was 11 kilometers from the city of Eretria, rather than 1.5 kilometers as mentioned by Strabo.
Excavation work by the team of Greek-Swiss archaeologists, led by Karl Reber, professor of Classical archaeology at the University of Lausanne – and a director of the Swiss School in Greece – and Amalia Karapashalidou, the honorary ephor of antiquities of Evia, started in 2007.