Latest research at Epidaurus confirms the identity of the temple of Egyptian deities

Years of research and excavation have shown that a building in the Asclepium of Epidaurus, which archaeologists had long believed to be the Stoa of Kotyos or a palaestra, was the temple of the Egyptian deities. In a dig he conducted in 1892, P. Kavvadias identified the building as the stoa, based on finds of ceramic artifacts bearing the name of Antoninus. There was also a remark by Pausanias that the Stoa of Kotyos had been repaired by Senator Antoninus. But the phase of the building which showed no signs of later work was of Roman construction, and Georges Roux believed it might be the Temple of the Egyptian gods. Co-worship During cleaning at Epidaurus in 1998-90, Roux’s view was vindicated, as Vassileios Lambrinoudakis told the Central Archaeological Council (KAS) on May 27. The second-century AD building is located northeast of the Propylon of the Gymnasium, which was the temple of Asclepius, Apollo and Hygeia, three deities associated with the Egyptian deities Osiris, Isis and Arpocrates. That was an era when the cults of various deities were brought from Egypt to Greece, and there was a strong element of co-worship, specially in the eastern Peloponnese. The diffusion of Egyptian cults in Greece was significant during the imperial age, though it started during the Hellenistic period. «Pausanias’ numerous references to temples of Isis and Sarapis in the Peloponnese are often confirmed by archaeological finds,» commented architects Klimi Aslanidis and Christina Pinatsi in their restoration study, which received unanimous approval. As they wrote: «The layout of the site supports the conclusion that it is the temple of the Egyptian gods.» The finds Among the finds are a large hall with a hearth, the bases of three statues (the three divinities), a table and desks which were moved from the abaton, Lambrinoudakis said, so that initiates could sit at them. There was blood from sacrifices in front of a drain and a hypostyle room where the participants presumably gathered after their initiation. The authors of the study propose conserving the walls, restoring the columns (there are four columns and four half columns in two rows). The restoration will employ 85 percent authentic material and 15 percent new limestone similar to the original. In the same session, KAS also approved a study for the restoration of the pre-Roman baths at the Asclepium of Epidaurus. The belief that they were baths is supported by the existence of four baths and a water circulation system in some parts of the building. The latest excavations have revealed a fragment of a bathtub. The site of the building and the position of its entrance, facing away from the temple, show that it was a significant building of important use, whether associated with physical exercise, accommodating visitors or treating patients, noted the authors of the study. The problem is that parts of the upper structure have fallen and are disintegrating. The foundations will be filled out with artificial stone and the parts will be stuck together and re-erected. Pine tree roots cause problems in the area, and at the pre-Roman baths rust-proof metal will be used to contain them.