"The Sanctuary of Poseidon at Boeotian Onchestos: An Archaeological Perspective Based on Columbia's Excavations at the Site"

Friday at 4pm in 612 Schermerhorn Hall
In the summer of 2014, Columbia University’s Department of Art History and Archaeology initiated the excavation of the sanctuary of Poseidon in Onchestos (director: Professor Ioannis Mylonopoulos), the seat of the Boeotian Confederacy, under the auspices of the Athens Archaeological Society. The excavation focuses on two large areas (Site A: 0.6 ha; Site B: 1.03 ha) between Thebes and Haliartos. During the first campaign, a geomagnetic survey provided much information on architectural remains still hidden in the ground including the existence of a substantial round structure with a diameter of over 131 feet at Site B. Site A corresponds to the sanctuary’s center, the site of the temple. Here, an impressive rectangular building with three, probably wooden, interior columns is currently explored. The structure dates back to the 6th century BCE and was enlarged in the late 4th, perhaps shortly after 338 BCE. Site B seems to have been the sanctuary’s administrative center and includes a large square building with an interior courtyard surrounded by colonnades. In addition, a large part of the northern wall of a monumental building from the late 4th century was unearthed. The wall is over 13.1 feet wide and 91.8 feet long. The excavation has already yielded a rich array of finds: vases and vase-fragments (several bearing graffiti), numerous bronze objects (including several strigils), bronze and silver coins, weapons (among them a fully preserved sword), objects associated with horse- and chariot races, and many architectural elements (including several architectural terracottas bearing floral and abstract decoration in black, white, and red color on a beige background). Although, after only two years of excavation the questions are far more numerous than the answers, we can securely state that the site was one of the major sacred sites of Central Greece.