The excavators were astonished. They were digging in a sanctuary to Zeus, in Greek mythology the father of gods and goddesses. From texts in Linear B, an ancient form of Greek writing, Zeus is attested as a pre-eminent god as early as 1400 B.C. By some accounts, the birthplace of Zeus was on the heights of Lykaion.
After reviewing the findings of pottery experts, geologists and other archaeologists, David Gilman Romano of the University of Pennsylvania concluded that material at the Lykaion altar “suggests that the tradition of devotion to some divinity on that spot is very ancient” and “very likely predates the introduction of Zeus in the Greek world.”
As Dr. Romano remarked, quoting a quip by a friend, “We went from B.C. to B.Z., before Zeus.”
The discovery by the Mount Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project was described last week in interviews and a lecture by Dr. Romano at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at Penn. Mary E. Voyatzis, a project co-director from the University of Arizona, discussed her analysis of the telltale pottery. The project’s third co-director is Michaelis Petropoulos of the Greek Archaeological Service.
Friday, February 08, 2008