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Investigations of the Western Temenos of Olbia

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image of Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia

Excavations since the 1920s show the presence in Olbia of two sacred areas (temene), East and West, divided by a main street. The author's excavations of the Western temenos reveal what was probably the earliest sanctuary, of the sixth century, followed at the end of that century by a stone temple dedicated to Apollo Ietros, guardian deity of the city. The sanctuary can be shown to have been considered a sacred area right down to the end of the city's history. The excavation of a sanctuary of Cybele, dated from at least the 2nd half of the 6th c. B.C., refutes earlier views that situated it on the E. temenos. Also found was a sanctuary of Hermes and Aphrodite with a 3rd c. B.C. temple. The presence of a sanctuary of the Dioscuri can be shown from dedications but its site cannot yet be pinpointed. Altars found on the West temenos can be classified as rectangular, round and primitive. Intact ash piles have also been analyzed. Many bothroi were found, including reused water cisterns. Their contents included masses of ceramic material (Attic pottery, local grey-ware and other East Greek ware), Olbian dolphin and arrowhead coins, votive offerings, ostraca and an abundance of architectural terracotta. It is clear that from the foundation of the city a considerable area of its urban area was assigned to sanctuaries and that this area remained the focus of the religious life of the Olbian state throughout its existence.


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