|S a n c t u a r y o
f A t h e n a C a m i r a s
a t C a m i r u s
(Click the image for a full screen view)
The Sanctuary of Athena Camiras at Camirus
Findings from the Geometric period (8th c. BCE) testify the existence of a Temple dedicated to Athena on the Acropolis.
In 700 BCE Camirus was one of six cities of Dorian origin in Caria that gathered in a confederacy. It joined together with Lindus, Cos, Ialysus, Cnidus and Halicarnassus to found the Dorian Hexapolis (in Greek, "the six cities"). Having its common Sanctuary, a Temple to Apollo named the Triopion, on the promontory on which Cnidus is located.
In ca. 407 BCE, Camirus (together with Lindus and Ialysus), while maintaining local autonomy, joined in the foundation of Rhodes City as the new capital of the island and sent citizens to populate it.
The cemetery at Makry Langoni has yielded the grave stele of Krito and Timarista with two standing female figures. Timarista, fullface, in a chiton and peplos embraces Krito, who is dressed in a chiton and himation and has short hair, from ca. 420-410 BCE. This famous piece of Classical sculpture is now on display in the Museum of Rhodes.
The earthquake of 226 BCE destroyed the Classical city and probably the Classical Temple of Athena Camiras.
The Hellenistic city was built on three levels according to the Hippodamian system. On the summit of the hill was the Acropolis with the Temple of Athena and the Stoa. On the middle terrace was the settlement and lower down the Hellenistic Temple, Doric Fountain-house, Agora and Peribolos of the Altars. The area was embellished with numerous votive offerings, stelai and plinths with statues. The earthquake of 142 BC destroyed the city for the second time.
The Archeological Excavations
Acropolis and Precinct of Athena Camiras
The Doric Temple was probably tetrastyle peripteral (with porticos on all four sides) surrounded by a peribolos (the circular wall that enclosed the entire holy site), dating from the late 3rd - early 2nd cent. BCE. It replaced a previous Classical Temple which was destroyed by the earthquake of 226 BCE.
There is a very impressive cistern to the north of the Temple, dating from the 6th - 5th cent. BCE. This cistern fell into disuse in the late 3rd - early 2nd cent. BCE, when a large stoa was erected along the Acropolis plateau.
The stoa consisted of two rows of Doric columns with 200 m long and shops or lodgings at the rear for the worshippers. The columns at the front supported an architrave with metopes, triglyphs and a cornice (3rd - 2nd cent. BCE).
There was an impressive water supply system under the floor with wells (with covers, according to an inscription), subterranean tanks and terra-cotta water pipes, which replaced the earlier reservoir.
It formed an imposing backdrop dominating the city and offered the inhabitants of ancient Camirus, as it does the modern visitor, a panoramic view over the sea and the surrounding agricultural area.
The base of the cult statue is preserved in the naos and behind was the treasury, a pit cut into the floor to hold the money of the Temple. It was probably dedicated to Pythian Apollo.
The inscribed altars were erected on two levels and dedicated to different deities (Agathos Daemon, Artemis, Zeus, Poseidon and others). There are remains of a large oblong altar dedicated to Helios on the first level.
A semicircular dais in front of the Peribolos of the Altars carried a votive offering.
Bus, car and taxi services bring most of the towns and villages within easy reach of the capital.
The nearby fishing harbour of Skala Kameirou makes a good place for lunch. Try the Symi shrimp or the octopus.
Copyright ©1998-2003 Roy George