The Greeks perceived a great divide between humans and gods. Intentional ritual celebrations (e.g. sacrifice, dedications, prayers) formed constant and direct interactions that could bridge this gap. This paper discusses other ways of communicating with the gods. The first case study examines a secondary stage in the habit of offering portrait sculptures to the gods. The second case study concerns the habit of giving humans divine names. Thus, the two studies explore ways in which humans could interact indirectly with the divine: on a more personal level and through individual initiatives.
The aim of this study is to analyze small bronze votives from the sanctuaries of Akragas. It examines the objects themselves as well as the context of their use. The study presents the preliminary results of a survey of akragantine finds, with a particular focus on the bronzes from the shrine near the Olympieion. This context has accurate stratigraphical information, especially for the finds coming from the excavation carried by University of Palermo. The dominant evidence consists in several phialai found in layers of the first and the second phase, as well as from some votive deposits, which underline the rededication of the building in the late 6th to early 5th cent. B.C. Another feature examined in this paper is the dedication of arrowheads.
The extra-urban sanctuary at S. Anna in Agrigento first was excavated in the 1960s and was attributed to Demeter based on comparisons with other known Demeter sanctuaries. Ongoing investigations in the ritual landscape in the southwestern area of ancient Akragas have established a larger extension of the sanctuary, which dates to the 5th cent. B.C. Excavations during the last several years identified various kinds of depositions that were connected both spatially and chronologically. Many find contexts of sacrificial material and feasting remains were encountered together. The complex relationships between the built structures, earthen floors and finds also attested to the agency of these ancient depositions’ times. Arguing from a ‘bottom up’ perspective, the material documented at S. Anna appears to challenge current assumptions regarding the definition of votive typologies. Additionally, this material advances the larger debate surrounding the cultural backgrounds of sanctuary visitors. To conclude this contribution, Linda Adorno supplies an appendix, which comments on the characteristic finds from the ongoing excavation.
The relationship between the Demeter cults and the offering of piglets is a cornerstone of many discussions about ancient Greek religion. However, this connection has rarely been supported by systematic zooarchaeological studies. The new excavations at the sanctuary of S. Anna greatly increase the zooarchaeological record of Sicily, while also providing an excellent case study for exploring the broader issues of ancient Greek ritual practice. Our results highlight the almost exclusive presence of pig bones, mostly belonging to very young individuals. The taphonomic analysis of the remains point to a cultic context, in which the piglets were used for sacrificial purposes and as part of sacred meals.
The sanctuary of Bitalemi in Gela offers a good case study for making observations regarding ancient depositional practices. Reviewing the material discovered here in the 1960s has provided new data on local ritual practices in the period between the end of the 7th and the middle of the 6th cent. B.C. Firstly, this contribution introduces some similarities and differences in the depositional practices identified by Paolo Orsi and those by Piero Orlandini. This is followed by an analysis of the various types of deposits, which are mainly identified as ritual / primary deposits (i.e. formed by the offerings of dedicants). Additionally, mention will be made regarding the composition of multiple deposits, and the relationship between imported and local material.
This paper introduces an archaeological context that comes from the storerooms of the ‘A. Salinas’ museum and has remained unpublished for fifty years. It includes the materials from the excavations carried out by Vincenzo Tusa in 1969 and 1970 in the Sanctuary of Zeus Meilichios at Selinunte. This excavation covered an area of over 500 square meters, and was situated to the North of the ‘Temple of Demeter’. In addition to a large amount of materials spread throughout the layers of sand, Tusa’s excavations discovered three hundred depositions / offerings. In some cases the offerings were simple rough stones; in others cases they were stones inscribed with symbols or inscriptions. The offerings consisted of groups of materials (e.g. pottery, terracotta figurines, and bronzes), which are distributed chronologically between the 6th and 5th cent. B.C. This archaeological context will be further explored in the near future, but can already offer several possible interpretations. It provides many useful elements for defining aspects of the sanctuary in terms of the spaces, the cults, the ceremonies, and the ritual actions that took place there.
In 2014-2015 a campaign of archaeological excavations was conducted in Selinunte, at the sanctuaries of Demeter Malophoros and Zeus Meilichios. The excavations conducted in the western part of the ‘campo di stele’ have led to the discovery of various depositions of the Archaic period. The long water pipe that longitudinally crosses both of the temene, communly attributed to the same period as the monumental temple and altar of Demetra Malophoros (6th cent B.C.), occurred, instead, after the outdoor cult area dedicated to Meilichios was in use. Among the most significant conclusions of the new excavations was the discovery of a bothros, which contained votive material from the Archaic and Classical period. It was consecrated as a foundation deposit at the time of the construction of the great propylon, which was erected in the last twenty five years of the 5th century. The material from this bothros constitutes the first well defined ‘context’ identified in the sanctuary of Demeter Malophoros.
This essay focuses on the results of the Institute of Fine Arts-NYU investigations in the southern sector of the main urban sanctuary of Selinunte. Our first phase of research, undertaken between 2006 and 2010, was dedicated to Temple B, which is now safely restored as a Doric, prostyle tetrastyle temple on a podium. The temple was built around 300 B.C., at the time of the Carthaginian control of Selinunte. Its Greek features represent an important indication of the mixed Graeco- Punic character of the settlement at the time. Unfortunately, very little material culture can be associated with the phases of use of Temple B, due to the 19th century excavations in the area, which removed the stratigraphic layers without documenting the related finds. The situation is quite different with Temple R, whose area we have been exploring since 2011. The Orientalizing, Archaic, and Classical levels in the area of Temple R are almost entirely preserved, thanks to a thick layer of fill that dates to the end of the 4th century and covers the entire area of investigation. Earlier studies interpreted this fill layer as belonging to the phase of use of the sanctuary in the Archaic and Classical periods. As a result, it was never fully excavated. Thanks to this situation, our excavations inside and around Temple R have given us a deeper understanding of the development of this area of the sanctuary, starting with the first generation of life of Selinunte until the end of the 4th cent. B.C. In particular, the discovery of a large number of faunal remains and artefacts in their original architectural context has greatly contributed to our understanding of the development of cult and ritual practice. This includes a first phase of use of the area for cult activity within the last quarter of the 7th cent. B.C., the subsequent construction of Temple R in the early 6th cent. B.C., the damage by fire of the building between the late 6th and early 5th cent., and its subsequent renovation. The material also sheds light on the final damage by fire towards the end of the 5th cent., presumably on the occasion of the Carthaginian sack of Selinunte in 409 B.C., followed by a further restructuring of Temple R within a few years. Temple R may have gone out of use as a sacred structure over the course of the 4th cent. B.C., but in the earlier period, it was a major focus of cultic activity in Selinunte, as best indicated by its elaborate construction and rich foundation deposit and by its repeated reconstructions and associated votive offerings. Despite the absence of literary or epigraphical evidence, the temple can be attributed safely to a goddess given the nature of the votive offerings. This goddess is tentatively identified as Demeter (together with Kore) based on a number of factors, such as the faunal remains associated with the foundation deposit, mostly of piglets. This goddess had a particular association with war, which is suggested by the numerous dedications of offensive weapons (mostly iron spearheads) in the foundation deposit and the deposit connected with the late 6th to early 5th cent. renovation. The discovery of a bone aulos in the foundation deposit and of vases featuring Frauenfest scenes and depicting women dancing to the sound of music, together with the presence of a theatral viewing area (the “South Building”) to the East of Temple R speaks to the significance of performances and spectacles in association with ritual activities in this sector of the sanctuary over the course of the 6th cent.
This paper discusses work carried out since 2012 by the University of Bern in collaboration with the Archaeological Park of Himera. It presents the state of knowledge of 2017 regarding the sacred structures and ritual practices on the Piano del Tamburino. It also addresses the topography and urban layout of the colony. This research has thrown new light and importance on the colony referred to as the Piano del Tamburino, which has received little attention in the more than 50 years of research at Himera.