Phew! Brauron really tired me out, and I haven’t finished it yet, I have to present some things about the sanctuary itself. But I am going to break it here and prepare some things from much smaller collections.
I’ve also been laying a plan about my following museum tours. Thankfully, museums are pretty close to each other, so you can always see two or three in one go.
These are the museums- and sites-I have visited and documented so far. They are about 20 archaeological museums…so I still have a little over 100 of them to go…and some really important sites- but not all of them because there are over 3000 archaeological sites open to the public in Greece.
Certain museums do not allow taking photos, or publishing the photos you take, so I will have to obtain a special permit for them-I’ll probably leave them for last.

Phew! Brauron really tired me out, and I haven’t finished it yet, I have to present some things about the sanctuary itself. But I am going to break it here and prepare some things from much smaller collections.

I’ve also been laying a plan about my following museum tours. Thankfully, museums are pretty close to each other, so you can always see two or three in one go.

These are the museums- and sites-I have visited and documented so far. They are about 20 archaeological museums…so I still have a little over 100 of them to go…and some really important sites- but not all of them because there are over 3000 archaeological sites open to the public in Greece.

Certain museums do not allow taking photos, or publishing the photos you take, so I will have to obtain a special permit for them-I’ll probably leave them for last.

Archaeological Site of Sounio/ Sanctuary of Poseidon:

This partridge is not the only one who took a stroll on history. Inscribed on the soft poros stones are the names of thousands of visitors of the 19th century. Plenty philhellenes sought to make it to history on the resilient immortality of these ancient stones. The Greek admirers of antiquity followed suit.

Archaeological Site of Sounio/ The Sanctuary of Poseidon:

At the end of the Sounio peninsula, the southermost point of Attica, the Athenians built sanctuaries in honour of their most important deities; Athena and Poseidon.

The sanctuary of Poseidon was built within a fort that protected the coast of Attica. The temple of white marble that came from Agrileza was erected in the middle of the 5th century, right above the older poros temple that had been destroyed before completion by the Persians. The first- smaller- Doric temple of Athena was also destroyed at that time, along with a marble kouros that stood there before both temples were erected. The second temple that was erected in honour of Athena was a much bigger, Ionic temple with an altar at the south side.

The site is also famous because of the cape from which Aegeas- father of Theseus- allegedly threw himself off, thus giving his name to the Aegean Sea.

greek-museums

greek-museums:

Archaeological Museum of Brauron:

The  Archaeological Museum of Brauron was built  in 1962, 200m. away from the archaeological site of the Sanctuary of Brauronia Artemis. It was inaugurated in 1969 and ever since it has been one of the most important museums in the region of Attica. It houses not only the impressive material from the ongoing excavations at the sanctuary, but finds from all over Mesogaia. The first exhibition was organized by the head of the Ephorate of Antiquities B. Philippakis and professor P. Themelis. The redesigning of the exhibition during 2007-2009 was undertaken by archaeologists Ioanna Drokotou, Eleni Methodiou, Vasiliki Skaraki and the architects G. Hatzigogas and P. Gouliaris.
(from the page about the museum at Odysseus)

Getting to the museum is a little bit tricky since the road signs are sparse- if you ever want to go ask me for directions- but it is definitely worth it. The ticket is just 3 euros (2 for students and seniors outside of EU) and free for students. The site is open from 8:00 to 15:00. If you go in the summer, the guard of the sanctuary might treat you to some plums and figs.

greek-museums

greek-museums:

Archaeological Museum of Brauron:

Artemis Chrysselakatos (of the golden distaff)

Artemis was the protector of female handicraft and weaving. Loom weights, whorls and epinetra were dedicated to the sanctuary in honour of the goddess who holds the golden distaff (the stick used for turning wool into thread). Dedications of incomplete garments, wool and weft have also been interpreted as dedications to the goddess as a symbol of her status as protector of handicraft and weaving.

Weaving was a basic (and highly sophisticated) qualification for women in the antiquity. In every house there was a room isolated from the rest which was specially bound for weaving called histonas (the room of webs) or gynekonites (known in english as women’s quarters)

Raw materials for weaving came from animals (wool, goat’s hair), plants (linen, hemp), mineral (lime, asbestos), and metals (silver and gold threads)

The main clothing material was wool. There were three stages for turning wool into thread. Women washed the crude wool, spread it to dry and beat it with canes to remove useless materials. The clean wool was carded with combs and was placed in a work basket. Then it was laid on a special vessel, the epinetron, a clay implement in the shape of a roof time, which was placed on the thigh for rubbing the wool. The final stage was spinning it with the distaff and the spindle so as to produce thread.

(pictured above: whorls and fragments from epinetra)

Archaeological Museum of Brauron:

Fragments from vessels dedicated to the sanctuary (mostly from the classical period)

These vessels were definitely the highlight of the museum for me art-wise. Their fine lines and iconographic variety function together almost like a comic book. The rhythm and the harmony in the small scale of these compositions make them so lively, almost tangible.

I was actually having a little inner monologue about how people can’t imagine women working as painters in workshops because somehow this is considered a “fine arts” occupation, which means that they wouldn’t be “naturally” good designers. But in fact scenes and designs like these appeared in clothes according to both literary sources and contemporary research. Ancient greek garments were always pretty colourful and had really beautiful patterns. And some textiles were made like tapestries with extensive scenes from mythology. And women made these textiles.

I guess when most people picture these women weaving, they imagine them churning endless yards of plain white (or at best brownish) cloth. And so weaving is categorized for most as an uncreative and unimaginative chore.  

Archaeological Museum of Brauron:

Artemis Chrysselakatos (of the golden distaff)

Artemis was the protector of female handicraft and weaving. Loom weights, whorls and epinetra were dedicated to the sanctuary in honour of the goddess who holds the golden distaff (the stick used for turning wool into thread). Dedications of incomplete garments, wool and weft have also been interpreted as dedications to the goddess as a symbol of her status as protector of handicraft and weaving.

Weaving was a basic (and highly sophisticated) qualification for women in the antiquity. In every house there was a room isolated from the rest which was specially bound for weaving called histonas (the room of webs) or gynekonites (known in english as women’s quarters)

Raw materials for weaving came from animals (wool, goat’s hair), plants (linen, hemp), mineral (lime, asbestos), and metals (silver and gold threads)

The main clothing material was wool. There were three stages for turning wool into thread. Women washed the crude wool, spread it to dry and beat it with canes to remove useless materials. The clean wool was carded with combs and was placed in a work basket. Then it was laid on a special vessel, the epinetron, a clay implement in the shape of a roof time, which was placed on the thigh for rubbing the wool. The final stage was spinning it with the distaff and the spindle so as to produce thread.

(pictured above: whorls and fragments from epinetra)

Archaeological Museum of Brauron:

Clay figurines from various eras (from late archaic to hellenistic) devoted to the sanctuary.

Head of Dionysos, a shrouded woman, hands of a child holding toy, a rider, a siren, head of a figurine of Athena, a doll, a woman bearing a kanoun (ritual vessel) on her head, fragments from board-shaped figurines of Artemis.

Archaeological Museum of Brauron:

Artemis kourotrophos (a child’s nurse)
A small group of figurines at the Brauron sanctuary dating at the beginning of the 5th century B.C depicts the goddess holding a young girl in her arms, instead of a baby as it normally happens with kourotrophos figurines.
It is probable that Brauronia Artemis protected and guided girls during the transitional phase from childhood to puberty. Young “arktoi” offered their services to Artemis in order to be educated for marriage and be fulfilled with having their own children.

Archaeological Museum of Brauron:

Artemis kourotrophos (a child’s nurse)

A small group of figurines at the Brauron sanctuary dating at the beginning of the 5th century B.C depicts the goddess holding a young girl in her arms, instead of a baby as it normally happens with kourotrophos figurines.

It is probable that Brauronia Artemis protected and guided girls during the transitional phase from childhood to puberty. Young “arktoi” offered their services to Artemis in order to be educated for marriage and be fulfilled with having their own children.

Archaeological Museum of Brauron:

Artemis protector of children:

Maiden goddess Artemis protected newborn children and young women during labour, the most important moment of their life- childbirth mortality rates were pretty high for both infants and mothers. According to a version of the myth, when Artemis was young she assisted her mother Leto as she leaned on the trunk of a palm-tree to deliver her twin brother Apollo.

The numerous statuettes of girls and boys that were found in the sanctuary- dating at the 2nd half of the 4th century B.C- indicate that at this time Artemis mainly appears as a goddess of labour and child protector. That is why she is called Locheia and quite often she is also identified as Eileithya- goddess of confinement.

Parents dedicated statuettes of young children probably as thank-offerings either for a successful childbirth or children’s recovery from an illness. The aim of this dedication was to set the children under the constant supervision and protection of the goddess. Apart from their garments, women dedicated also the garments of their children to Artemis as well.

Besides a religious centre, the sanctuary functioned as a place of education as well. The children that served the goddess were trained to contribute to the well-being of society as active citizens.

The children here wear their everyday clothes- a chitor or a himation- and they hold in their hands an animal- rabbit or puppy-, a bird, or an object- possibly one of their favourite toys.