History of Research

Some early, more or less systematic efforts of recording the most well-known monuments of Lakonia had already began in the 18th century, at least at a theoretical level. During the period 1830-1850, Wilhelm Leake, among others, identified the low hill, where the chapel of Agia Kyriaki had been erected, as the spot where the Sanctuary of Apollo was once found. The first excavations were carried out by Christos Tsountas and the Archaeological Company in 1890. Among the most important discoveries of Tsountas were the precinct wall and the remains of a circular building, which he interpreted as the foundations of the base of the throne. In direct adjacency to this construction, Tsountas found an apothetes with material that is considered characteristic for the early period of this sanctuary, that is to say pottery and terra-cottas from the Bronze and the Geometric period, as well as bronze figurines, some of which portray Apollo.

The first quarter of the 20th century constitutes the main phase of excavations and the investigation of Amyklaion. The sanctuary becomes once again the object of a new excavation in 1904, under the supervision of Adolf Furtwängler. Three years later a second German excavation was carried out initiated by the assistant of Adolf Furtwängler, Ernst Fiechter, who published the relevant research conclusions in 1917. Based on these conclusions of his excavation work, Fiechter justifiably came to the conclusion that what Tsountas had identified as the foundations of the throne were actually the remains of a circular altar with a superstructure. Just as Furtwängler had done earlier, Fiechter also expressed the opinion that the position of the throne would have been on the spot that the church was found at that time. In order to confirm the validity of this conclusion, Fiechter proceeded to demolish Agia Kyriaki, and thus was revealed the unique and still visible section of the throne’s construction. This work also led to the discovery of other architectural artifacts, such as decorative bands with anthemia and lotus flowers, parts of epistyle, shafts as well as capitals of columns-consoles that combine elements of the Doric and the Ionian rhythm. All these findings were dated by Fiechter at the end of the 6th century B.C. With that same ancient material, however, a modern church was erected in that period, North of the archaeological area, this time on the foundations of a Byzantine building, which had already been revealed by Tsountas and was identified by him as a baptisterion.

A third German excavation in the Sanctuary of Amykles took place in 1925, under Ernst Buschor. Based on the conclusions gathered from the analysis of the stratigraphy outside the South-Eastern corner of the precinct, Buschor attempted to substantiate the chronological sequence of the sanctuary. However, from an in-depth analysis of the fragments of the vessels depicted in his publication, it results that the shards cannot be attributed to the corresponding chronological phases that he proposes and that, consequently, the stratigraphy in Amyklaion cannot be considered regular.

Given the abundance of publications on Amyklaion, only the two most extensive relative studies will be mentioned here: the doctoral thesis of Katy Dimakopoulou with the subject The sanctuary of Amykles during the Bronze Age (Athens 1982), as well as the work of Amalia Faustoferri (1996) that is focused on the analysis of the mythological themes found in the decoration of the throne.

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