The Research Project
Around 1200 BC Greece’s high culture of the Late Bronze Age, which is now referred to as the Mycenaean period after its main discovery site the grand citadel of Mycenae, ended in a major catastrophe. The academic world has long suspected that this era was succeeded by a period of decline and stagnation, described as the “Dark Ages” (1200 to 850 BC). This was followed by the “Greek Renaissance” which bore the Polis system harking back to the heroic past of the Mycenaean period and laid the foundations for Greece’s great age, the Classical Period. However, more recent discoveries, the Necropolis at Lefkandi on Euboea in particular, suggest that a series of basic prerequisites for the rise of Greek culture during the first pre-Christian millennium had already been established during the “Dark Ages” themselves, which indicates that this was by no means a time of crisis. Nevertheless, aspects of religion and worship during this important period of Greek history remain largely unknown in the academic world.
More recent research attributes particular significance to the Sanctuary of Kalapodi in Phocis. Situated among gently rolling hills, it is close to an important Ancient trade route, which Pausanias described as Leofóros and which leads north of the Pass of Hyampolis at Thermopylae to Orchomenus, Livadia and Ancient Thebes. Since 2003, an international team from the German Archaeological Institute in Athens has been working in Kalapodi as part of a project supported by the Gerda Henkel Foundation and directed by Dr. Wolf-Dietrich Niemeier, a continuation of work carried out between 1973 and 1982 by his colleague from the Athens satellite of the German Archaeological Institute, Dr. Rainer Felsch. Today a selection of the abundant finds from this period are on display in the Archaeological Museum of Lamia. While previous teams succeeded in largely completing the excavation of the North Temple and its predecessors, which date back to the 9th century BC, the examination of the Archaic South Temple and its predecessors in particular was incomplete and so became the focus of the new excavation works in Kalapodi. The project that commenced in 2004 sought to identify a succession of sacred buildings that span the Archaic, Geometric and Protogeometric periods, leading right through to the Late Mycenaean period. Furthermore, the temples built on top of one another promised to reveal major insights into the oft-discussed genesis of the Greek temple as well as the highly probable ritual continuity of this site beyond the “Dark Ages”, which still constitute one of the most enigmatic periods of Greek history.
We already documented the excavations in Kalapodi in the first L.I.S.A.video series. The second will report on its progress.
Prof. Dr. Wolf-Dietrich NiemeierLocation