Archaeological Site of Brauron
The Sanctuary of the Brauronian Artemis is one of the earliest and most revered of the sanctuaries of Attica. An important settlement was established at the inner end of the bay of Brauron during the Neolithic period. It flourished particularly from Middle Helladic to early Mycenaean times (2000-1600 B.C.). During the historical times this was the region of the little deme of Philaidai. The Brauronian Artemis was worshipped as the goddess of vegetation and hunting, but also as the protector of women in child-birth and of the infants. As priestess of Artemis, Iphigeneia dies and is buried in Brauron where she too is honoured as a goddess of child-birth. The sanctuary of Artemis was rural in character and was renowned for the Brauronian festival held every four years when a procession was made from the Brauronion of Athens to the sanctuary at Brauron. Systematic excavation of the sanctuary began in 1948 under the direction of Ioannes Papadimitriou.
The most notable monuments of the site are:
• The big doric stoa with a Π – shaped ground plan. It was built between 425 and 415 B.C. and it framed the big closed interior courtyard which opened toward the temple of Aphrodite. The stoa was restored during the years 1950-60 by Professor Ch. Bouras.
• The temple of Artemis. A Doric prostyle temple with a tripartite cella and deep adyton, built on the site of an earlier archaic temple. It dates to the first half of the 5th century B.C.
• The temple or heroon of Iphigeneia. It was built at the site of the Sacred Cave which was connected with the tomb and the worship of Iphigeneia, when the roof of the cave collapsed. The earliest cult evidence goes back to the 8th century B.C.
• The stone bridge over the river Erasinos.
Brauron (Ancient Greek: Βραυρών) was one of the twelve cities of ancient Attica, but never mentioned as a deme, though it continued to exist down to the latest times. It was situated on or near the eastern coast of Attica, between Steiria and Halae Araphenides, near the river Erasinus. Brauron is celebrated on account of the worship of Artemis Brauronia, in whose honour a festival was celebrated in this place.
The sanctuary of Artemis at Brauron is an early sacred site on the eastern coast of Attica near the Aegean Sea in a small inlet. The inlet has silted up since ancient times, pushing the current shoreline farther from the site. A nearby hill, c. 24 m high and 220 m to the southeast, was inhabited during the Neolithic era and flourished particularly from Middle Helladic to early Mycenaean times (2000–1600 BC) as a fortified site (acropolis). Occupation ceased in the LHIIIb period, and the acropolis was never significantly resettled after this time. This gap in the occupation of the site lasted from LHIIIb (13th century) until the 8th century BCE. Brauron was one of the twelve ancient settlements of Attica prior to the synoikismos of Theseus, who unified them with Athens.
Temple of Artemis
The first known temple at the sanctuary – dating to the late 6th century BCE – rests on a low rock spur south of the river and is aligned toward the east on a foundation measuring c. 11 by 20 m. Little is preserved beyond partial lower courses and cuttings in the bedrock for the same. There are a few remains of the architecture that allow a certain identification of the temple as being of the Doric order. The Persians destroyed the sanctuary structures in 480 BCE and took the cult statue back to Susa. The temple was reconstructed in the 420s BCE. Although the temple is poorly preserved, it can be reconstructed to have had four columns in the cella and an adyton at the rear of the cella.
The museum is about a 5 minute walk from the archaeological site.
Compiled for NovoScriptorium by: T.M.