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On February 3, 2019, Mr Vasilis Lambrinoudakis, Ms Alexandra Sfyroera and Mr Vangelis Kazolias presented the results of the excavations at the site of the Tholos of the Epidaurus Asklepieion at the packed “Alkis Argyriadis” Amphitheater in the main building of the University of Athens. The excavation work has been underway since 2016 and is conducted by the Department of Archaeology and Art History of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.
The presentation began with an address by the Rector of the National and Kapodistrian University, Prof. Meletios-Athanasios K. Demopoulos. Addresses by the Head of the Department of History and Archaeology, Associate Professor Dimitris Plantzos and the Director of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Argolis, Dr Alkistis Papadimitriou followed. The presentation was attended by, among others, the Mayor of Epidaurus Mr Tasos Chronis and Argolis MPs Ioannis Gkiolas and Ioannis Andrianos.
The announcement concerned the unearthing of a building of the Archaic era, a forerunner to the Tholos. The new building had been erected on the site where the Tholos, the most emblematic building of the Asklepion, was subsequently constructed during the 4th century BC.
The Archaic building is rectangular in plan and excavations revealed that it had a basement space corresponding to the ground floor. The basement had a mosaic floor and the ground floor a peristyle. Although partially excavated at present, the research indicates that the building is connected to the early chthonic cult of Asclepius and was the sacred building-forerunner to the Tholos, the place of his chthonic worship. Following the demolition of the building, its basement space was used for the reverent burial of the remnants of the old building, as well as remnants from other parts of the sanctuary.
Thanks to its particular architectural and functional characteristics, the excavation of this new building will broaden our knowledge of the history and evolution of the architecture of the time and our understanding of the origins of the cult of Asclepius on that site in particular, which has been an unknown aspect of the history of the sanctuary until now.
The excavation was funded by the “Asclepiades” company in 2016-2017 and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation in 2018-2019. Excavations are conducted with the constant support of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Argolis.