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25/10/2007

The sanctuary of Artemis Orthia

Prefectural Administration of Lakonia


The sanctuary of Artemis Orthia

Excavations conducted by the British School of Archaeology uncovered the sanctuary of Artemis Orthia, with many dedications and inscriptions, in the vicinity of Limnai. More specifically, an altar, 24 x 7 metres, was discovered 100 metres east of the Eurotas bridge, and a small, square sanctuary was found 500 m from the altar. The finds from the excavation led to the conclusion that this was the site of the sanctuary of Artemis Orthia, which was also known as Limnaion from the local region, and the goddess Limnatis. The inscriptions indicate that the Spartans used the sanctuary of Artemis Orthia in the upbringing of their children. Artemis was the goddess of growth and fertility, and the patron of childhood and early adolescence. In the sanctuary (tradition holds) they would publicly whip adolescent boys, until they bled, in accordance with the laws of Lycourgus, so they would become used to physical pain. They would drip the blood that ran from the boys over the goddesss altar.

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