The Sanctuary of Asclepios – The Doric Stoa of Athens Acropolis

The Asclepieion, the sanctuary of the god Asclepios and his daughter Hygieia, the personification of “Health”, is located to the west of the Theatre of Dionysos, between the Peripatos, the ancient road which surrounded the Acropolis rock itself. The Sanctuary was founded in the year 420/19 BC by an Athenian citizen from the deme of Acharnai, named Telemachos. The founding of the Asclepieion is recorded in the Telemachos Monument, a votive stele consisting of a narrow shaft, crowned by two slabs with relief panels, which commemorate the arrival of the god in Athens form the Sanctuary of Epidaurus and present him in hiws new residence at the sanctuary on the South Slope of the Acropolis. A copy of the Monument of Telemachos is exhibited today in the Doric Stoa of the sanctuary.

The Asclepieion consisted of a small temple, an altar, and two halls, the Doric Stoa (abaton) which served as an incubation hall for the visitors to the Asclepieion, who stayed ther overnight and were miraculously cured by the god who appeared in their dreams, and the Ionic Stoa (katagogion), which served as a guest-house used by the visitors to the shrine and the priests.

The Doric Stoa, a two-storey building with a facade of 17 Doric columns, was built in 300/299 BC, as epigraphical testimonies attest. The restoration project for the facade of the Doric Stoa includes the reconstruction of three marble columns, together with parts of the epistyle, the Doric frieze, the cornice, and part of the columns of the first floor.

The Stoa integrated in to its eastern part of the Sacred Spring, a small cave with a spring in the Acropolis rock, since water has always been a significant element in the cult of Asclepios, and in to its western part the Sacred Bothros, which functioned as a sacrificial pit. The Sacred Bothros, a well with polygonal masongry, placed in the first floor of the Stoa, is dated earlier than the Stoa itself, to the last quarter of the 5th century BC. It served as a Well Altar, on which the Heroa, the sacrifices to the chthonian deities and the Heroes took place. According to the restoration project of the Doric Stoa, the west part of the facade of the ground floor, as well as the surroundings west and north walls of the Sacred Bothros will be restored. The reconstruction and the completion of the west and the north wall of the Sacred Bothros, with two courses of new limestone, added to the north, and three courses added to the west wall of the monument, is in progress.

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