An ancient deme in northeast Attica, on the Euboian gulf. Excavations
have brought to light the sanctuary of Nemesis - the most important sanctuary
of that divinity in ancient Greece - the fortress, public buildings, remains of
houses and many grave enclosures. Human activity in the area is evident as early
as Neolithic times. Archaeological evidence shows that there was a sanctuary here
from the beginning of the 6th century B.C. The archaic temple was destroyed by
the Persians in the attack of 480-479 B.C., as were many other buildings in Attica.
This was followed by a period of prosperity during the 5th century B.C., when
the temple received its definite architectural form. Herodes Atticus took an
interest in the sanctuary and he may well have repaired the big temple. This is
followed by a period of decline ending in the dominance of the Christian religion.
The first excavations in the area were carried out by the Dilettanti
in 1813 and by D. Philios in 1880. This was followed by the excavations of V.
Stais during the years 1890-1892 which exposed the temple, the fortress and many
grave enclosures. A short exploration of the area was made by E. Mastrocostas
in 1958. From 1975 to now, systematic excavation and research has been carried
out by the Archaeological Society under the direction of V. Petrakos.
The main monuments of the archaeological zone are as follows:
The site of the temple was prepared with the construction
of heavy isodomic retaining walls along the northern and eastern sides. Prior to this, there
was a small temple of the early 6th century B.C., the existence of which is known
only from the remaining Laconian roof tiles and the Doric poros temple that was
destroyed by the Persians. These preceded the terrace, but they had already been
destroyed when that was built during the 5th century B.C. The two temples visible
today were constructed after this.
was built at the beginning of the 5th century B.C., with polygonal
wall construction. It measured 10 x 6 m. Within it were found a number of important
was built after the middle of the 5th century B.C., to the north
of the first temple and very close to it. It is a Doric peripteral building measuring
21,40 x 10,05 m., with 6 x 12 columns, pronaos and opisthodomos with two columns
in antis. Earlier it was considered to be the work of the architect of the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion,
the so-called "Theseion" in the Athenian Agora and the Temple of Ares at Acharnai.
At some places the work appears to be unfinished and neither metopes nor pediments were decorated.
The famous statue of the goddess
, a work of Pheidias’ student, Agorakritos, stood
within the temple. It was made of Parian marble and
- decorated in relief - of marble from Dionysos. The base has been reconstructed from the mass of fragments
that were found scattered about. The scene shows the presentation of Helen to
her mother Nemesis by Leda. It is dated around 420 B.C.
Preserved to the north of the temple are the foundations of the altar, measuring
3,25 x 7,80 m. A stoa along the north side of the temenos with a little fountain
in front of it, completes the sanctuary.
It comprises an outer system 800 m. long and a smaller interior circuit
enclosing the top of the hill. The main entrance of the outer system is at the
south and it is protected by square towers at each side of the gate. Within the
circuit private and public buildings have been found, notable among which are
the theatre and the gymnasium. Within this same area is also the agora of the deme.
Military establishments stood at the top of the hill - within the interior circuit of the
fortification. On the coast below two small harbours - the eastern and the western
- served the ships that patrolled the Euboian channel. The Fortress of Rhamnous,
as that of Sounion at the southern tip of Attica, is thought to have been constructed during the Peloponnesian War
in order to control the ships bringing grain to Athens.
Road and Grave Monuments.
Part of the ancient road leading to the deme of Rhamnous was found during the excavations.
It passed in front of the sanctuary of Nemesis and ended at the fortress.
Along the road were found many splendid
of classical times with fine grave monuments in relief, funerary naiskoi and stelai.
A considerable number of these enclosures have been restored.