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Sanctuary of Aphrodite at Skaramanga

Pausanias mentions a temple of Aphrodite, located today in Aphaia Skaramanga, a neighbourhood ofChaidari, about 1.5 km west of the Daphni Monastery. The monument was located via the many niches carved onthe Aigaleo mountain slope, also noted by the French author Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880) on Christmas 1850. The sanctuary of Aphrodite was also a basic stop of the Eleusinian procession. D. Kampouroglou, the firstexcavator of the site found statuettes of Aphrodite and other gods, some reflecting the art of the school ofPheidias. He also located traces of a stoa, an altar, living quarters for the priests and the base for the statue ofthe goddess. In the 1930s, I. Traulos and K. Kourouniotis concluded the excavations.The sanctuary has a roughly rectangular enclosure wall (71x21 m), with an entrance and propylon to the south. There was a very small, almost square temple, with a doric portico and marble roof, on the west side of thewall. There is also a stoa and other buildings of unknown function. There are many bases of statues and votive inscriptions to Aphrodite, as well as altars and other votives, mainly clay figurines depicting the goddess, or vulvae and birds, the symbols of the goddess. It seemsthat the whole area of the sanctuary, including theniches would have been full of votive offerings, including statues, stelae, large vessels etc.A complex to the south probably served as residence area for both priests and travellers. A rectangular guard house (25x15 m) lies south of the Sacred Way. Twolater sarcophagi testify to its funerary re-use. The exact establishment date of the sanctuary is unknown, butit should not be earlier than the 4th century BC. The sanctuary lived until the Roman times and is today open to the public.

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