Friday, June 22, 2007

An article about Isthmia in Greece by Elizabeth R. Gebhard, Director of the University of Chicago Excavations at Isthmia, has been reproduced on the Spero News website. Isthmia was the seat of the Isthmian Games - one of four ancient Greek athletic contests. The article provides a history of discovery and excavation at the site.

One significant discovery was the early Archaic temple lying beneath the Doric building of Classical times. A catastrophic fire reduced the building and its contents to a mass of smouldering ruins amongst which Broneer recovered a host of small dedications brought by pilgrims to Poseidon's shrine.

. . .

Small and finely decorated oil vessels (aryballoi) were favoured dedications. A man who had been victorious in the pentathlon gave a jumping weight suitably inscribed. Its early letter-forms provide the first evidence for the pentathlon as an event in the games. A wheel from a chariot was dedicated, presumably in gratitude for a victory won at the Isthmian Games. Then there were arms and armour, dedications made by those who had been victorious in war. Humbler forms of dedication were the small terracotta figurines of horses and riders and of bulls, the animal sacred to Poseidon. As god of the sea, he also received small replicas of ships for a safe voyage.

The University of Chicago have an official section dedicated to the site, with every season's annual excavation reports, and study season reports. There are also 3-D site reconstructions and contour plans.