Friday, 21 November 2014

Ancient Greek Sanctuary Of Claros

Claros was an ancient Greek Sanctuary, containing a temple and oracle of Apollo for the territory of Colophon, one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League created during the mid 7th century BC.

This is the first view of the site from the carpark and I have to say that at first there does not look to be much here. One word of warning, try to avoid going after it has been raining, the water table must be incredibly high here as it does not seem to matter what time of year you visit it is very wet and slippery underfoot in places and boggy in others. We visited in October after what had been quite a dry patch but it was still wet and muddy.

Here is a structure which I have read is a exedra, which was a semi circular recess or plinth, used as a seat out doors or in doors.

This looks like the end of another seating area with some fancy animal type feet.

Another thing you will notice around the site is the amount of text carved on the surface of columns or other surfaces.

This inscription can be found on the one of the columns of the 'Honour Monument Of Polemaios' and dates to the third quarter of the 2nd century BC.  Polemaios belonged to one of the famous families of Colophon and also served as a Priest in the Temple Of Apollo, here in Claros.

Due to the large amounts of water about you will hear lots of 'plop, plop, plops' as the large amount of frogs, toads and terrapins disappear into the water as you approach.  This little terrapin was the only one that I caught on camera.

According to the site map this area is known as the 'Katagogion', which was an ancient Greek tavern, inn or hostel.

Here we are looking back towards the car park.  The columns in the centre of the picture outline the 'Propylon', according to the on site map, which was an outer monumental gateway standing before a main gateway.

I am standing on the what is known as the  'Sacred Road' taking this photo.

The column to the left of this shot is the 'Honour Monument Of Sextus Appuleius'.  Sextus Appuleius was the son of Octavius and the step brother of Emperor Augustus.  

The inscription on the lower part of the column says 'People honours Sextus Appuleius who is the founder of the city and is elected as proconsul for the second time' and is dated to around 29-28BC.

This is said to be a statue base which held the statues of three Roman Magistrates on the Sacred Way, near the Temple Of Apollo.

This impressive looking seat is known as a 'Protocol Seat' which would have been positioned around a 'Proedria' which was a grassy area that separated the dignitaries from the general public.

These two pieces of stonework is just covered in inscriptions.

These large carved pieces of stone with large carved text look like they may have been parts of the Temple of Apollo, but I cannot find any mention of them.

Here we can see the foundations of the Hellenistic Altar of Apollo.

Here we can see a Hellenistic sundial.  

In this picture you can just about make out the markings of the sundial, with the addition of a modern replacement for the rod to create the shadow.  There is an inscription on the base of the sundial which reads 'Athenagoras son of Apollos being agoranoms, offered (the sundial) to Dionysos and to the People'.

We are now standing in the Temple Of Athena in the area of the front adyton beneath the cella, which was used as a waiting room.  An adyton was a restricted area within the cella, reserved for oracles, priestesses, priests or acolytes but not the general public.

We are now looking towards the main part of the Temple and the back adyton where the prophecies were performed by the Oracle, who was the only person who could enter this space.  The adyton had an impressive set of arches spanning the space which can still be seen today.  Also within this space was located the sacred spring.

It is recorded that construction of the temple started in the early 3rd century BC and was completed at the end of the 2nd century BC.

The arches of the main adytos, which today has a lot of water sitting in the bottom of it.

Here you can see some modern casts of some of the remains of statues that have been discovered on the site and can be seen in the next few photos.

The detail on the toes is amazing.

Here it is said is one of the columns of the Temple which were deliberately pulled down just after the Temple was abandoned, this is just how they were uncovered by the archaeologists.

The edges of this section of column are so crisp, it looks like it could have been carved only yesterday.

This well endowed young man is known as a 'Kouros', which was a type of statue representing male youths.  The main pose being standing in a frontal pose with the arms generally held close to the side.

What little remains of this Kouros has an inscription down the side of the leg which reads 'Timonax dedicated me to Apollon on his first priesthood'.

In this glass case you can see a reconstruction of the Temple of Apollo, with the Alter of Apollo in the front.

Unfortunately the model could do with a little bit of attention as a door has fallen down, which now obscures the view of the arches over the back adytos.

The notice board on the site explains that this statue is a type of ancient Greek statue dating back to 600 to 480 BC and was known as a 'Kore'.  Kore refers to a votive or commemorative statue depicting maiden figures.  The statues were almost always standing with one leg slightly forward from the other and holding the dress upwards.  There is writing on the left side of the dress saying 'Timonax dedicated me to Artemis on his first priesthood'.

Here we have the larger than life figure of Homer, who according to Ancient writers either came from Colophon or Smyma.  Homer was the father of all belief in the Greek World.

The plaque on the base of this statue states that this is Aphrodite.

If you would like more information on Claros including details of the various excavations please follow this link to the official page:

If you could the chance to visit I would recommend it has it is another slice of ancient history.