Athens University archaeology professor and president of the Committee for the Preservation of Epidaurus Monuments Vassilis Lambrinoudakis had long wanted to do something special on the subject of Asclepieian sanctuaries. Epidaurus, where he directs ongoing excavations, is, after all, home to the most famous of these ancient places of healing.
What’s more, the recent discovery of a structure dating to the 7th century BC tells us that the worship of Asclepius as both god and hero dates to much earlier than thought. As for the ancient theater at the site, it served as a site of worship and healing, as theater and connecting with nature are thought to have been part of the regimen prescribed to patients.
This was not the only Asclepieian sanctuary, however. It is thought that there were another 200 to 300 operating in the ancient world, stretching all the way to France, Spain, Cyprus and Asia Minor, among other locations. It was this fact that sparked Lambrinoudakis’ idea for a network of cities, towns and scientific bodies connected to the ancient Greek healer.
With the support of the Ministry of Culture, the University of Athens and the International Hippocratic Foundation of Kos, the Global Network of Ancient Asclepieia was temporarily put on hold by the pandemic, but has recently gathered steam again, with the addition of Athens into the local network, as well as Paphos on Cyprus, which is the first non-Greek location in the project.