Ancient Greece: Secrets of Long-Lost Temple of Artemis Revealed After 100-Year Search

Archaeologists on the Greek island of Euboea have uncovered a temple dedicated to Artemis, the goddess of hunting and the moon, after a century of searching for the long-lost classical sanctuary dedicated to the ancient deity.

The Swiss-led team discovered the site at the foot of the a hill near the fishing town of Amarynthos, which lies on the western shore of the island, just off the Greek mainland. The temple was finally uncovered six miles from the site where experts had originally believed the sanctuary to be located.

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While the first excavators began looking for for Amarynthos’s temple to Artemis at the start of the 20th century, this most recent successful dig began in 2007, the Swiss news outlet SRF reported. The team, led by Karl Reber, a professor at the University of Lausanne and director of the Swiss School of Archaeology in Athens, opened exploratory trenches in 2012 which revealed the temple’s structure.

The archaeologists were given the first signs they may have stumbled upon the long-lost sanctuary when they recovered parts of a massive wall dating back to the classical area. It appeared to be part of a portico or roofed colonnade from the period dating between 300-500 B.C.

The discovery of corresponding artefacts and inscriptions in the buildings have shown the Artemis Amarynthia, the end point of the annual procession of people from the once prosperous trading city of Eretrea to the spiritual center dedicated to the moon goddess.

Researchers knew there must be a temple to Artemis in the ancient town because of its long association with the deity. The open air shrine was one of the most important holy sites in central Greece at the time.

The name of the town, which is retained by the modern village to this day, is derived from a local man, Amarynthos, whose reverence for Artemis was famous. The annual procession held in the town was part of a festival in honor of Artemis that attracted worshippers from across the region.

The temple to Artemis at Ephesus, near the modern town of Selcuk in Turkey, was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It was completely rebuilt three times before its final destruction in 401 A.D. Currently only the foundations of the sanctuary remain.  

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