The Archaic Temple of Athena Hippolaitis in Southwestern Mani (20 min)


Philip Sapirstein, University of Toronto


Since 2019, the Archaeological Frontiers project has explored the architectural remains at Ano Poula, an abandoned village perched on the cliffs of Cavo Grosso (southwestern Mani), where numerous ancient marble blocks are in the vicinity of its church for the Agioi Theodoroi. Having recognized these as elements of a monumental archaic temple, Dr. Maria Tsouli (Lakonia Ephorate of Antiquities) has recently published a preliminary catalogue and associated them with the Athena sanctuary at Hippola—a polis mentioned by Pausanias (3.25.9)—thereby setting the stage for renewed investigation. With an aim to study and publish the ancient and Byzantine material in a holistic and diachronic manner, I have directed the cleaning and documentation of the site by means of photogrammetry during three campaigns that concluded in 2022.

For this second report from the fieldwork, I will focus on the ancient architecture at Hippola. Several dozen building members and traces of foundations allow a partial reconstruction of a small prostyle temple to Athena datable by style to the mid-sixth century B.C.E. The extensive use of marble in its façade and doors, including by far the oldest attested example of a marble disk acroterion, can be connected to the exploitation of high quality white marble in the vicinity of the site. The strongest architectural parallels for the Hippola temple can be found in another remote sanctuary, that of Artemis Knakeatis at Psili Korphi, near the marble quarries at Doliana in the mountains south of Tegea. In addition to the Athena temple, several capitals and anta blocks from later archaic and classical monuments attest to continued building activity at this heretofore largely unknown site in the Mani.