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Exploring ancient Greek religion
Exploring ancient Greek religion

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3.2 The sacred regulation in context

The Amphiareion’s sacred regulation was inscribed in the fourth century BCE. It was later found during an excavation at the sanctuary in the late nineteenth century, by which time the shrine had long been abandoned and several of its monuments had been removed from their original locations. This inscription was found in an old aqueduct at the sanctuary, marked with a red cross in Figure 7.

The plan shows the main features of the Amphiareion, as reconstructed from archaeological finds. At the top of the site is a theatre, below which there is a long colonnaded stoa. The women’s baths lie to the right of this stoa, while the men’s baths lie to the left, close to the temple, which is at the far left of the plan. Other features include a sacred spring and an altar, located between the baths and the temple. Above these is the site of a series of honorific statues and below is a water clock. From the bottom left to the bottom centre of the plan, a large, interconnected series of walls and buildings is labelled ‘residential quarters and the agora’, i.e. the market place.
Figure 7 Topographical outline of the Amphiareion.

As for its original location, it is likely that the sacred regulation was displayed near Amphiaraos’ altar (see Figures 7 and 8) as was customary for similar types of inscriptions at other sanctuaries (Petropoulou, 1981, p. 42; Wilding, 2021, p. 65).

The altar of the Amphiareion was constructed by the mid fourth century BCE. The sanctuary’s sacred regulations tell us that it was used both by the priest of Amphiaraos and visitors to the sanctuary to offer sacrifices to the god. A small stepped theatre overlooked the altar allowing pilgrims to observe such religious sacrifice.
Figure 8 Remains of the altar at the Amphiareion.

This location means that the Amphiareion’s regulation was displayed alongside important building structures central to Amphiaraos’ worship, such as his altar (Figure 8) and temple (Figure 9), which visitors to the sanctuary would have interacted with as part of their religious practice.

The temple of Amphiaraos was constructed by the mid fourth century BCE. Like other ancient Greek temples, it would have housed sacred objects and treasures as well as a cult statue.
Figure 9 Remains of the temple of Amphiaraos.