New Fragment from the Altar of Apollo Pythios

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On 31 March 2009, in a rescue excavation of the 3rd Ephorate of Antiquities in a plot situated in central Athens on 3 Iosiph ton Rogon St., an inscribed fragment of Pentelic marble was found1. The excavation was conducted by the archaeologists Chara Charami and Ephi Alexaki. The fragment, small in size (H. 0.043, W. 0.123, Th. 0.065) was broken on all sides except for part of the top (inv. no Λ 13142). It preserves five carefully carved letters: the upper part of the right slanted stroke of the upsilon, an almost complete crossed theta, an iota, an omicron and finally the upper corner of the epsilon. The letter forms led the excavator Chara Charami to associate the fragment with the crowning member of the altar of Apollo Pythios.

During the recording of the fragment in the Inventory, Voula Bardani observed the shape of the fragment, its measurements and the traces of the non fully preserved letters. She attributed and made the join of the fragment to the right part of the inscribed crowning member of the altar (IG I³ 948. EM 6787), dedicated to Apollo Pythios by Peisistratos the younger, grandson of the homonymous tyrant of Athens (see Thuc. VI 54, 6-7). The autopsy of the monument in the Epigraphical Museum confirmed the identification. The fragment was transferred to the EM and was joined to the crowning of the altar.

The importance of the new fragment lies primarily in the topographical testimony that it carries since it determines the exact find spot of the crowning of the altar which was found in the area in 1877. St. A. Koumanoudes, who was Secretary of the Archaeological Society at Athens at the time, notes the following in ΑΘΗΝΑΙΟΝ 6, 1877, 149: “I saw it on 29 April 1877 lying in the courtyard of a house in the Ilissos area and southwest of the Olympeion, where I was taken by someone to see the inscribed stone which was for sale. It had been excavated five months earlier broken into five fragments”. The report of the new discovery in the newspaper “ΩΡΑ” (4 May, 1877) includes more information: that the monument was found in the foundations of a house, that it was broken while it was excavated, and that this house was located in the same area in which other inscriptions mentioning Apollo as well as other remains of choregic dedications were found2. The new fragment presented here had probably broken off during the excavation of the monument (and before Koumanoudes was informed about the discovery) and was found 132 years later (in 2009). Its discovery in the plot located at 3 Iosiph ton Rogon suggests very strongly that the crowning of the altar of Apollo Pythios was originally found in this same plot. This monument is the most reliable evidence for the topographical identification of the Pythion Sanctuary.

Chara Charami – Voula Bardani,
3rd Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities


1The fragment was found among other stones which had fallen following a rainfall inside the excavated area of the site from the baulk of the front limit of the plot.
2The reference is made to the finds from the nearby houses of Chr. Karditsis (IG II² 1635 fr. b, 3065-3067) and D. Agapiou (IG II² 2789), see ΑΘΗΝΑΙΟΝ 1, 1872, 169-172.