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Lost temple of Artemis is finally found

An archaeological mystery that fascinated experts for more than 100 years has been solved, after an Ancient Greek temple was finally uncovered
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An archaeological mystery that fascinated experts for more than 100 years has been solved, after an Ancient Greek temple was finally uncovered.

Ruins of a legendary sanctuary dedicated to the worship of Artemis were located after researchers realised instructions to the site dating from the period were wrong.

It was finally discovered around six miles (10 km) from Eretria where it had been believed to be buried, in the coastal town of Amarynthos.

Buildings thought to date from between the sixth and second centuries BC, devoted to the goddess of hunting and the moon, were found.

An archaeological mystery that fascinated experts for more than 100 years has been solved, after an Ancient Greek temple was finally uncovered

The breakthrough was made by a team from the Swiss Archaeological School in Greece (SASG), in collaboration with the regional government on the country’s second largest island, Euboea and the Ministry of Culture and Sport.

Over the summer, the core of the sanctuary was uncovered when the team cut through its external walls.

Inside they uncovered an underground fountain, as well as inscriptions and coins bearing the name Artemis.

In a written statement, a spokesman for the Greek Ministry of Culture said: ‘During this year’s excavation, buildings of various ages were discovered.

‘From some inscribed bases and sealed tiles bearing the name Artemis, it was possible to identify the sanctuary of Artemis Amarysia.

‘The inscriptions refer to the goddess Artemis, to her brother Apollo and to their mother Lito.’

Archaeologists had been excavating in vain at a site near Eretria since the 19th century, based on the writings of the geographer Strabo, who died early in the first century AD and described it as the location of the long-lost temple.

A Greek and Swiss team began digging at the site in 1964, in the hopes of uncovering the remains when a member of the team, Denis Knoepfler, discovered stones from buildings of the time had been reused in a Byzantine church.

He calculated that Strabo had miscalculated when he stated the open air site of worship was seven Greek stades ( around one mile / 1.5 km) from Eretria.

Instead, he suggested a much farther distance of 6.8 miles (11 km).

Ruins of a legendary sanctuary dedicated to the worship of Artemis were located after researchers realised instructions to the site dating from the period were wrong
Buildings thought to date from between the sixth and second centuries BC, devoted to the goddess of hunting and the moon, were found

In 2007, the SASG team began investigating plots at the foot of the hill of Paleokeliski or Paleochora, to the east of modern Amarynthos, which correspond with this distance.

The first results were encouraging as evidence of a monumental covered walkway, or stoa, dating from around the fourth century BC which could potentially be part of the temple site was uncovered.

This has since been found to cover the eastern and northern sides of the sanctuary.

The team began its excavations in earnest in 2012, but has only now been rewarded with definitive proof that the site is indeed the one they have been searching for.

Artemis is known as the goddess of the hunt and is one of the most respected of all the ancient Greek deities.

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