The Sanctuary was founded in the 10th century B.C. and at the beginning was
not monumental since it was a temenos consisted of only one altar in the open
air. At the end of the 9th century B.C. this older altar was replaced by a larger
one, this time built with stones. The first temple having stone foundation was
constructed in the middle of the 8th century B.C. The temple suffered great destruction
caused by flood at the beginning of the 6th century B.C. but soon after was built
The large Archaic temple which is preserved until our days , was constructed
at that time. The temple consists of cella and pronaos with two doric columns
at the East side. A significant restoration of the temple and the altar was done
probably at the beginning of the 2nd century B.C. Finally, during the 3rd century
A.D. (after 225 A.D.) the Roman horse-shoe shaped amphitheatre was built in front
of the temple, while the temple itself was probably restored. The amphitheatre
was intended to facilitate the people attending the sacred ceremonies that were
taking place inside the temple, in favour of the godess. At the same time they
built another oblong altar but a bit closer to the temple.
The Sanctuary was excavated by the British Archaeological School At
Athens during the years 1906-1910. The results of the investigations were published
by R. M. Dawkins et al. (1928), in the Annual of the British School At Athens,
under the title: "The Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia at Sparta".
No restoration work has yet been undertaken on the site.
The most important monuments of the site are:
In the area of the sanctuary which is located in the ancient "demos" (district)
of Limnes at Sparta, the excavations conducted by the British Archaeological School
At Athens, at the beginning of the century, revealed remains of successive phases
in the construction of the temple of Artemis Orthia. The last phase is dated to
the Hellenistic period but interventions were also made in the temple , during
the Roman period.
East of the temple is preserved the big oblong altar which was made of stone
South of these sacred places was founded a large horse-shoe shaped amphitheatre
which is nowadays preserved in a quite good condition. This construction was used
by worshippers and people attending the ceremonies and the games of youths, which
were taking place at the area of the sanctuary.
The clay masks which were found at the area are an indication of the orgiastic
marble stelai depicting sickles
and the inscribed altars are connected with
their donors. These were children which had successfully passed the test of whipping
before they could enter the adolescents' teams.