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The Sanctuary of Poseidon in Kalaureia

The sanctuary of Poseidon in Kalaureia is located on the larger of the two islands of the Poros complex in the Saronic Gulf. The earliest remains of the site date back to the Early Bronze Age, while rich finds of the Late Bronze Age are associated with a building found at the north of the site.

There is no firm chronological evidence for the founding of the sanctuary. However, at the end of the 6th/beginning of the 5th century BC, it was already the center of an amphictyony, which, according to Strabo, included seven cities. In 322 BC the incident that helped to preserve its memory in the centuries following its destruction took place: the fleeing there of the orator Demosthenes and his suicide. After the Roman period, the sanctuary was abandoned for an unknown reason. In 1765, the British traveller Richard Chandler visited the site -then known as ‘Palatia’- and witnessed the removal of architectural parts for the construction of the monastery of the Virgin Mary on Hydra Island. In later years the site was used for agricultural work, and from the beginning of the 20th century until its expropriation in 1974, a farmhouse was operated there by the Makris family.

The systematic exploration of the site began in 1894 by Sam Wide and Lennart Kjellberg who uncovered parts of the temple and other buildings. In 1996, the Swedish Archaeological Institute, in cooperation with the Greek Archaeological Service, began a new cycle of investigations, under the direction of Berit Wells and, subsequently, Arto Penttinen. From 2007 to 2012 the work continued within the ‘Kalaureia: The City, God, the Sea’ project, with the main focus on investigating daily life in the sanctuary and its relationship to the city and the wider world.

Alongside the archaeological work, as part of an archaeological ethnography programme, the relationship of the members of the local community to the material past of the site, and their perception of the archaeological field work was also studied. Archaeologist Yannis Hamilakis and anthropologist Aris Anagnostopoulos interviewed members of the local community, collaborated with local schools, established an annual tour for locals on the progress of the excavations, and, together with archaeologist and photographer Fotis Ifantidis, experimented on the coupling of creative photography and archaeology.

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