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Temple of Mars and Aphrodite at Lenika

Archaeological Sites


In a flat area near the modern settlement Ellinika, between Agios Nikolaos and Elounta, at the border between the ancient city-states Lato and Olous, was located a very old sanctuary dedicated to Aphrodite, the «ancient Aphrodision» of the inscriptions of the late 2nd century B.C.

The area obtained a new meaning, when the conflicts between the two cities over border disputes escalated and approximately in the position of the ruined single geometric sanctuary was built a temple in the 2nd century B.C., dedicated to two Gods, Ares and Aphrodite. The rectangular geometric temple, with dimensions 4 x 9 m. had western orientation. In front of the facade there was a trapezoid altar, that was possibly in the centre of an ante-chamber with five columns. The building had not   been used, according to the excavators, after the geometric times and possibly at the end of the 2nd century B.C. it was already ruined.

West of the altar of the geometric years was founded by the city of Lato the later two-aisle temple with orientation to the east and a common ante-chamber for both aisle, that was constructed later over the geometric altar. For each of the houses there was an entrance door from the common ante-chamber. The stone lintel of the eastern door of the south aisle, that was dedicated to Ares, is preserved, as concluded by the discovery of an inscription that refers to building works in the temple of Ares, while one more access to it existed, from the southern wall of the building.

From inscriptions the construction process of later additions and repairs of the later temple as well as the development of the border disputes, that were resolved throught the mediation of Knossos, Rome and Militos. The mediations and the relevant treaties also had to be placed «in the temple Dera» or in the temple of Area in the area Dera -and many of them were actually found in the area of the temple of Lenika. Finally the temple and the area were given to Lato.
(Author: V. Zografaki , Archeologist)


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