Zeus Atabyrios (Rhodes) 6 Mt. Atavyros - Αταβύρου Διός ιερόν

Ἀταβύρου Διὸς ἱερὸν - Zeus Atabyrios, foundations of Zeus sanctuary on the summit of Mt. Atavyros in Rhodes Dodecanese
Hits: 6
Works: 4
Latitude: 36.206600
Longitude: 27.864700
Confidence: High

Greek name: Ἀταβύρου Διὸς ἱερὸν
Place ID: 362279SAta
Time period: CH
Region: Dodecanese
Country: Greece
Department: Rodos
Mod: Mt. Atavyros

- Pleiades
- IDAI gazetteer ID

Search for inscriptions mentioning Zeus Atabyrios (Αταβυρ...) in the PHI Epigraphy database.

Modern Description: It is said that Althaemenes, son of Catreus, King of Crete, fled to Rhodes after a frightening oracular prediction and settled on the island, founding a sanctuary to Zeus Atabyrios on the only point on the island from which his homeland could clearly be seen. He brought with him many settlers from Crete; the name of the village above the coast below— Kritinía, or Cretenia in Antiquity—may derive from this. At Acragas (Agrigento) in Sicily, Zeus Atabyrios was worshipped together with Athena, whose cult may also have been present on the mountaintop here. A number of figurines of bulls have been found at this site, and ancient sources refer to the presence of large bronze bulls in the sanctuary which were wont to bellow and groan when some ill-fate was approaching. The extensive remains are clearly visible on the ridge 500m to the southeast of the military radar tower. The large rectangular base (c. 15m x 11m) of an altar, surrounded by a peribolos of about 40m square, occupies the top of the ridge. Below to the north east side is the 20m long base of a stoa or portico in four courses of rusticated ashlar blocks of probably 5th century workmanship, with what appears to be a waterpool at its western end. Elements of other structures fill the space between the two areas. A number of meticulously cut and carved architectural elements lie all round, including blocks and pedestals bearing dowel-holes and what appears to be a lustral basin. Yet there is no evidence of columns or entablature suggesting a temple. What was here probably partook more of the nature of a large altar (oriented perfectly east/west) than of an actual temple. The grey stone was quarried on the saddle just below the rise to the west. Numerous offerings, among them bronze statuettes of Zeus and bronze and lead figures of bulls, date the period of ritual use from the 8th century BC to the 2nd century AD, while finds from recent excavations take it back as far as the 2nd millennium BC. The name of the summit Aghios Ioannis, suggests the ruins were later ‘Christianised': though not easy to discern, there are remains of an Early Christian basilica and a Middle Byzantine church of Aghios Ioannis, both built with material from the ancient sanctuary. Constructing, visiting, even conceiving of a sanctuary in such a place so arduous of access, is a measure of the enduring freedom of the Ancient Greek imagination. If the Divine and Invisible were present to them in even such a daunting place, no thought was given to mere human convenience in honouring that presence. The site, to be properly understood, needs to be visited by foot in a storm, as the peak is enveloped in the thunder and lightning of Zeus.
Wikidata ID: Q29963055

Info: McGilchrist's Greek Islands

(From McGilchrist’s Greek Islands, © Nigel McGilchrist 2010, excerpted with his gracious permission. Click for the books)

Author, Title Text Type Date Full Category Language
Author, Title Text Type Date Full Category Language

Quick Contact 👋

Get in Touch with Us

Thank You for Contact Us! Our Team will contact you asap on your email Address.


Go to Text