Other Significant Sites

Ancient Terracotta Plaques found at Agia Paraskevi

Archaeological Museum of Sparta

The Discovery of the Deposit Near Agia Paraskevi


Heroic Offerings: The Terracotta Plaques from the Spartan Sanctuary of Agamemnon and Kassandra
by Gina Salapata

“In 1955 a schoolboy of Amyklai, Sarantos Antonakos, found hundreds of terracotta objects in his aunt’s orchard. He presented these to the Sparta Museum, and his discovery led to the investigation of an area several meters to the north of the church of Agia Paraskevi in the southern part of the modern village and near the tower of Mahmoud-Bey. The excavations, directed by ephor of antiquities Chrysanthos Christou, were carried out over three seasons between 1956 and 1961.

The excavations extended over an area six meters by two and one-half to five meters in the Antonakos orchard. A large deposit was discovered and produced more than ten thousand objects, ranging in date from the early seventh to the late fourth centuries; it included hundreds of vases of regular and miniature size, terracotta figurines and plaques, and a few metal objects. Two large terracotta reliefs, a disc akroterion, a few antefixes and inscribed fragmentary tiles, and the cylindrical base of a perirrhanterion with relief decoration were also discovered. It was established that the deposit consisted of votive offerings dedicated at a sanctuary, since rims from large vases were inscribed with the word ANEΘE[KEN (dedicated).

A small elliptical wall, dated to the fourth century, surrounded the votive dump to contain the objects. Trial trenches around the deposit failed to reveal traces of any kind of building belonging to the sanctuary as expected from the architectural terracottas. However, soundings made around the church brought to light some architectural remains dating to the Classical, Hellenistic, and Roman times. The cult building could thus be located exactly below the church or, more likely, to the west of it, either under the cemented courtyard or to the northwest in the Zarafonitis orchard, where architectural pieces were lying around. Indeed, in 1853 Vischer reported that when the people of Mahmoud-Bey excavated the nearby ground to obtain material for the construction of the small chapel of Agia Paraskevi — later expanded into the present-day church — they found many ancient worked stones close to the surface.”

Archaeological Museum of Sparta, Hall VI: An important position is held by the architectural parts of the Apollo of Amyklae sanctuary, a work by Bathycles of Minor Asia, exquisitely combining Ionian and Doric features, in a particular type of structure, where the Dorian Apollo and the pre-Dorian deity Hyacinth were jointly worshiped. In the centre of the room, one can find the amphiglyph (double sided relief) pyramid-shaped column depicting pairs of figures (Orestes – Clytemnestra and Menelaus – Helen), while one can also admire a large number of a heroic Laconian reliefs series representing a pair of deities, reliefs and symbols of Dioskouroi, as well as a small section of offerings originating  from the Alexandra-Cassandra sanctuary in Amykles.

Paula Antonakos fascinated by some of the pieces found by her Uncle, Sarandos Antonakos near Agia Paraskevi (Hall VI at the Archaeological Museum of Sparta).