Near Amarynthos (Euboea, Greece), a joint excavation by the Swiss School and the 11th Greek Ephorate brought to light the foundations of a large building, possibly belonging to the renowned sanctuary of Artemis Amarysia.
In September, a team of Swiss and Greek archaeologists led by Denis Knoepfler and Amalia Karapaschalidou discovered the massive foundation of an edifice that could belong to the most renowned -yet still unlocated- sanctuary on the island of Euboea, dedicated to Artemis Amarysia.
Deep trenches opened at the foot of the Paleoekklisies hill, near modern Amarynthos (10 kilometres east of Eretria), unearthed a foundation composed of two courses of large tuff blocks. Excavated on a length of 6 meters, the line of the wall extends in the neighbouring fields, making impossible at this stage to ascertain the exact shape and function of the building to which it belonged. Hundreds of crushed fragments of marble were also recovered; they once belonged to the elevation of the buidling, whose marble parts were later used for lime production. This is confirmed by the discovery of an old limekiln just a few meters from the foundation. The preliminary study of the stratigraphy and the pottery suggests that the first course of blocks was laid in the second half of the fourth century BC; the second course belongs to a later phase, dated to the second century BC.
The foundation cuts a large wall from the Late Geometric period (around 700 BC), excavated at a depth of 3 meters from the surface.
The coastal plain near Amarynthos where a team of Swiss archaeologists is searching for the sanctuary of Artemis Amarysia
It is the first time that such a monumental building is discovered in the area of Amarynthos. Although the 2007 exploration did not yield any significant finds related to cult activities, except for few female terracotta figurines, joint evidence attests for the location of the sanctuary of Artemis Amarysia in the vicinity. Several inscriptions that once stood in the sanctuary were discovered nearby in the past, as well as a lead weight inscribed with the name of the goddess. The hill of Paleoekklisies, occupied during the 2nd millennium BC by an important settlement, is identified with ancient Amarynthos, attested on the linear B tablets from Thebes as A-ma-ru-to-(de). Last, the distance between Eretria and the recent discovery corresponds to that indicated by the geographer Strabo, who wrote that the Artemision at Amarynthos was located at 60 stadia or ~11 kilometres from Eretria, provided that we accept an astute correction of the manuscripts proposed by D. Knoepfler.
Further excavation should hopefully clarify the function of the monumental edifice discovered in 2007 and yield new evidence related to the sanctuary of Artemis Amarysia. This research by the Swiss School of Archaeology in Greece is endorsed by Swiss and Greek authorities with the support of the Swiss National Funds as well as private sponsors.