Demystifying the sanctuary of Artemis at Brauron : a new examination of the Scientific American text

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Bose, Elizabeth H. Taylor

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In the June 1963 issue of the Scientific American, Papademetriou presented a black and white photograph and brief description of an inscription which he dated to the 3rd-century BC. The subject of this inscribed stele was an Athenian law, resolved by the nomothetai, requesting the examination of various structures at Brauron in order to determine what buildings were in need of repair. Apparently the sanctuary had suffered enough damage or neglect to warrant an investigation not just by the local magistrates but also by officials from Athens. The following structures were cited in the decree: neos, archaios, parthenon, oikoi, amphipoleion, huperoia, gymnasium, palaistra, hippones and other buildings which had been erected by the polis in honor of the goddess. In the same issue of Scientific American Papademetriou stated, 'obviously we have located some of these buildings, notably the temple and the stoa, which is probably the parthenon.' This statement raises the question whether the identification of the stoa as the parthenon of the inscription is correct. For that matter, is it possible to identify any of the other buildings mentioned in the inscription with the archaeological remains? These are the questions I will seek to resolve in this report. My aim is to identify, where possible, the buildings in the inscription with the archaeological remains excavated by Papademetriou. I will also compare the terminology used in the inscription with similar terms found elsewhere in the ancient record, and employ other types of evidence as well, including Papademetriou's annual excavation reports, the Brauronian inventories from the Athenian Akropolis, archaeological evidence from other sanctuaries, and other literary and epigraphic sources.