Sunday, 21 September 2014
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Nas

THE TEMPLE OF THE IKARIAN ARTEMIS

-During the 6th century BC the Ikarians built a temple for the goddess Artemis in Nas, which is the name of the swampy cove lying in the northwest curving of the coastline of the island. Although in ancient times this area was very important for the local economy -this may be the place first inhabited on the island- Nas never developed to a town with the ancient meaning of the term. Like on other islands, when the Greeks came here they did not want to establish settlements at the same places where, in older times, had lived the pro-hellenic populations of the Aegean. The people who lived here lived on the goods the sea gave them, on bird and deer hunting and bred their own animals. But Nas was mostly known due to the temple of Tavropolos Artemis (tavropolos=the bull-herd), which was unfortunately demolished by the people of the village Christos of Rahes about a hundred and fifty years ago.

-Some kilometres away from Nas, on the west edge of the island, lies the cape Kavo Papas, the name of which, as many other ikarian place names, comes from the ancient times. "Papas" was one of the older names of the god Attis, the manifestation of Mother God (whom the Greeks would later identify as the goddess Artemis). Nas was a station of vital importance on the route from Asia Minor to Delos, especially during the months of October and November, season of the Apatouria in ancient times, when, due to the strong south eastern winds, voyagers to Delos preferred to sail along the north coast of Ikaria to this little moorage, where they would get supplies and shelter from bad weather. It is also very possible that there is a relationship between the temple of Nas and the other temples of Artemis that existed in that section of the Aegean Sea - Samos, Fokea, Chios, Patmos,

Delos and Efessos

-In 1938 the famous Greek archaeologist Leon Politis came to Ikaria to take over the first archaeological excavation of Nas. Although well known, the temple was not a large building. Politis started his search 25 metres west of the river, near the lime-kiln of the 19th century and realized that the dimensions of the temple were 9,70x3,75 metres. It had been founded on an enhanced basis, which was necessary on this unstable, sloping ground. The second building, 10 metres to the south, was smaller (3,10x2,15) and probably sheltered the famous wooden statue of the goddess. Among other objects, he found an elaborated wine cup from Rhodes, showing a chamois, a buckle with a lion head, a beautiful statue head of the Hellenistic years, as well as two bodies from women's statues, one of them from the 5th century and the other from the 2nd century BC. Politis also revealed some fulcrums of ionic and doric columns and saw pieces of columns in the sea.


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