Temple of Athena Alea, Tegea

Temple of Athena Alea, Tegea

Greek Doric Temples

M. Voyatzis, The Early Sanctuary of Athena Alea at Tegea and other archaic sanctuaries in Arcadia, Goteborg: P. Astroms, 1990.

The temple of Athena at Tegea supported the worship of a female deity ever since the Mycenaean period. This seventh century BC Doric temple was located under the foundations of its Classical successor, and built with wooden columns and entablature. The archaic temple burned down in 395/4 BC and the Classical period temple was erected in the fourth century BC. It was later destroyed by earthquake in the sixth century AD. Considered one of the most important religious centers in Greece since ancient times, the new temple was built by the architect Scopas in the Doric style which in size and splendor surpassed all other temples in the Peloponnese, with perhaps the possible exception of the temple of Zeus at Olympia. The temple naos included columns of different orders (the cella was decorated with seven Corinthian half-columns along each of the sidewalls, and Ionic columns adorn the upper story). The statue of the goddess was ivory, which was subsequently carried to Rome by Augustus and placed in the Forum of his name. The temple of Athena Alea at Tegea was an ancient and revered asylum, and many individuals saved themselves by seeking refuge in it.

Pausanias mentions (8, 45, 4 - 47, 4) that the mythical founder of the sanctuary of Athena Alea was Aleos. He goes on to write about the beauty of the temple and of its sculpted decoration.

G. Fougeres and V. Bérard excavated in 1888-1889 for the French School. The Temple of Alea Athena was investigated by A. Milchhöfer in 1879 and by W. Dörpfeld in 1882: it was excavated by G. Mendel and C. Dugas of the French School, who systematically unearthed the temple's foundations between 1900 and 1910. The French School at Athens expropriated the houses built over the sanctuary in order to excavate the site. Excavations continued under K. A. Romaios in 1909. K. Dimakopoulou excavated at the site in 1964-1965. The current excavations (1990-) are conducted by the Norwegian Institute at Athens, under the direction of E. Oestby.

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Tegea (Site)

Ancient Tegea, ca 10 km SE of modern Tripolis, extended over a large area on an upland plain that had previously been occupied by 9 smaller villages. It had a city wall from ca. 370 B.C. and, in addition to the agora, theater, stadium and other civic buildings, it was the location of a Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore where many Geometric and Archaic votives have been excavated.

The main sanctuary of ancient Tegea, however, was the Temple of Athena Alea, reputed in ancient times as one of the most important religious centers in Greece. The sanctuary originated in the Geometric period and served throughout antiquity as a famous place of asylum for fugitives and exiles, including a number of former kings of Sparta. The Archaic Temple of Athena was replaced by a new temple in the 4th century B.C. and in the 5th century A.D. a Christian church was built in its cella.

Tegea, one of the oldest cities of Arkadia, was first recorded in the Homeric Catalogue of Ships. In the Archaic period the 9 villages of Tegea joined in a synoicism to form one large city (cf. Mantinea and Sparta). After a long period of struggle, Tegea was forced into the role of a vassal state by Sparta at ca. 560 B.C. It remained under Spartan control until it joined the Arkadian League and fought against Sparta in 362 B.C. At ca. 370 B.C. Tegea constructed its first city walls. During the 3rd century, however, Tegea suffered 3 defeats by the Spartans.

In 222 B.C. Tegea was forced into the Achaean League and it continued to lose political power during the Hellenistic period. The city retained its prosperity and commercial importance, however, and flourished well into the Roman period. At ca. A.D. 395 Tegea was destroyed by the Goths, but was rebuilt under the name Nikli, and became one of the most important Byzantine cities in the Peloponnese.

G. Fougeres and V. Bérard excavated in 1888-1889 for the French School. The Temple of Alea Athena was investigated by A. Milchhöfer in 1879 and by W. Dörpfeld in 1882: it was excavated by G. Mendel and C. Dugas of the French School between 1900 and 1910. K. Dimakopoulou excavated at the site in 1964-1965. The current excavations (1990-) are conducted by the Norwegian Institute at Athens, under the direction of E. Oestby. Rossiter 1977, 287-88 PECS, 889-890 Leekley and Noyes 1976, 53-54

Athena Alea

Alea (Greek: Ἀλέα ) was an epithet of the Greek goddess Athena, prominent in Arcadian mythology, under which she was worshiped at Alea, Mantineia and Tegea. [1] [2] Alea was initially an independent goddess, but was eventually assimilated with Athena. [3]

The temple of Athena Alea at Tegea, which was the oldest, was said to have been built by Aleus the son of Apheidas, from whom the goddess probably derived this epithet. [4] This temple was burned down in 394 BC, and a new one built by the architect Scopas, a temple of the Doric order which in size and splendor surpassed all other temples in the Peloponnese, and was surrounded by a triple row of columns of different orders. [5] The statue of the goddess, which was made by Endoeus all of ivory, was subsequently carried to Rome by Augustus to adorn the Forum of Augustus. [6] The temple of Athena Alea at Tegea was an ancient and revered asylum, and the names of many persons are recorded who saved themselves by seeking refuge in it. [7]

The priestess of Athena Alea at Tegea was always a maiden, who held her office only until she reached the age of puberty. [8]

On the road from Sparta to Therapne there was likewise a statue of Athena Alea. [9]


- Strabo pp. 337, 388 Pausanias viii. 44-49, 53-54 Herodotus i. 65 ff., ix. 35, 70 Thucydides v. 32-73 Xenophon, Hellenica, vi., vii. Polybius ii. 46, 54 ff., v. 17, xi. 18 W. M. Leake, Travels in the Morea (London, 1830), i. pp. 88-10o, ii. 328-334 E. Curtius, Peloponnesos (Gotha, 1851), i. pp. 2 47264 W. Loring in Journal of Hellenic Studies, xix. (1899) pp. 25-89 Schwedler, De Rebus Tegeaticis (Leipzig, 1886) `Ivropla Ti)1 Te'yai. 'EKS. inra roi TE-yEar eoi /vvOL 4 tou (Athens, 1896) for coins: B. V. Head, Historia Numorum (Oxford, 188 7), pp. 350-351 and art. Numismatics, section Greek, §" Arcadia." (M. O. B. C.) Archaeology. - The temple of Athena Alea at Tegea is described by Pausanias as excelling all others in the Peloponnese both in size and in beauty of construction. The original temple was said to have been built by Aleus, the founder of the city it was superseded by a larger one which was destroyed by fire in 395 B.C. The rebuilding was entrusted to Scopas, the great sculptor and it is probable that he not only acted as architect, but also provided the sculptural groups which ornamented the pediments. Like the temple at Phigalia, it combined the forms of all three orders - Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. Pausanias asserts that the outer order was Ionic but excavations have proved that it was Doric. The pedimental groups of the temple represented at the front, the hunt of the Calydonian boar, and, at the back, the battle of Achilles and Telephus. Both subjects were intimately associated with the temple, for Atalanta had dedicated in it the face and tusks of the boar, which had been awarded to her as the first to wound it and Telephus was the son of Heracles and the priestess Auge. Two heads of heroes and that of the boar were found before 1880 later excavation, in 1883, showed the plan of the temple, which had six columns at front and back, and thirteen at the sides. In 1900 the French school at Athens recovered more fragments of sculpture, including a head of Heracles and the torso and possibly the head of Atalanta, these last two of Parian marble. The other heads are badly damaged owing to the fact that the white marble from Doliana, of which they are made, does not resist damp. But they still show in the intensity of their expression the power of expressing passion for which Scopas was famous beyond all other ancient sculptors. See Greek Art, fig. 63.

See G. Treu, Mittheil. d. deutsch. Inst. Athen., vi. 1881 W. Dorpfeld,ibid., viii. 1883 G. Mendel, Bulletin de correspondence hellinique, xxv. 1901 Pausanias viii. 45-47. (E. GR.)

Women in Greek Culture

Women in Greek culture is something that is many cases is forgotten about, but they were a huge part of the Greek mythology and the driving force behind a lot of the ideas and topics from Greek Philosophy and architecture. Without the women in the positions that they were in there would be no such thing as the Goddess that are thought of. The women were never looked down upon in the culture, but rather seen as equals. The Goddess of War is Athena herself. That in itself is something that can be seen as something that can combine the two topics of Alea and Athena.

When combing the two the ideas of the sculpture, the two women were combined to create the name Athena Alea, because Alea’s sculpture was on the path that warriors took to Tegea. The men that would march to battle from Sparta, saw her in a way that was of power and grace, therefore, making her a child of Athena, or Offspring This comparison of the two women also made way for the women in the communities to feel a sense of power among themselves and did not feel as though they were not seen as equal. This balance that was seen between the men and the women was not uncommon within the Greek Culture.


Tegea (tē´jēə) , ancient city of Greece, SE Arcadia, in the Peloponnesus. From the middle of the 6th cent. BC until the Spartan defeat at the battle of Leuctra (371 BC), it was dominated by Sparta. In 362 BC Tegea allied with its rival, Mantinea, against Sparta, but later it again opposed Mantinea. At Tegea there are remains of the temple of Athena Alea, which was rebuilt (c.370� BC). Scopas was the architect and sculptor.

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TEGEA Arkadia, Greece.

Tegea had a role to play in the saga of the Dorian migrations: Echemos, king of Tegea, killed Hyllos, son of Herakles (cf. Hdt. 9.26 ). In its early period, Tegea fought with Sparta, which sought in vain to conquer it ( Hdt. 1.66-68 ) but from 550 B.C. incorporated it in its Peloponnesian League. Tegea remained in the alliance with Sparta, and furnished the second strongest Peloponnesian army in the Persian War. At the battle of Marathon, the Athenians adopted the Arkadian goat-god Pan from the Tegean mountains ( Hdt. 6.105-6 ). The Tegeans fought with 1,500 hoplites at Plataiai ( Hdt. 9.28 ) and are mentioned on the snake-column at Delphi. Between 470 and 465 a rivalry grew up between the Arkadians and the Spartans, and the Tegeans suffered defeats ( Hdt. 9.35 ). An oligarchic party bound Tegea closer to Sparta, and thus brought the city into conflict with Mantineia. In the Peloponnesian War, Tegea fought on the Spartan side. Around 430-420 Tegea began to strike its own coins. It was given a city wall ca. 370 B.C. at the instigation of the pro-Sparta party ( Xen. Hell. 6.4.18 , 6.5.6-15, 7.5-8). In 362 at the battle of Mantineia Tegea fought on the Theban side, and in 316 successfully withstood a siege by Kassandros, but was taken in 222 by Antogonos Doson, in 218 by Lykourgos, and 210 by Machanidas. Directly afterwards Philopoimen made it a base for his struggle with Sparta. In 174 B.C. King Antiochos IV Epiphanes of Syria gave money for the rebuilding in marble of the cavea and the analemma-wall of the theater which had been standing since the end of the 4th c. B.C. Remains of it are incorporated in the Christian basilica of Palaio Episkopi.

Although it lost in importance during the Hellenistic period, in comparison to other Arkadian cities Tegea maintained its position well ( Strab. ) and is described extensively by Pausanias ca. A.D. 170 (8.45-54). In 124 the emperor Hadrian visited Tegea, and had the baths rebuilt. This led to the adoption of a new chronological reckoning-point (IG v.2 no. 51-52). About 395 Tegea was destroyed by Alaric and his Goths (Zosimos 5.6.4-5, Claudian, Bell. Goth. 57Sf). But the presence of Christian basilicas show that Tegea continued to be inhabited in the 5th and 6th c.

The holiest sanctuary in Tegea and the old cultic center of the region was the Temple of Athena Alea, in the neighborhood of which Late Mycenaean sherds have been found. The votive gifts show that the cult of the goddess dates back to the Geometric period. According to tradition the shrine was founded by Aleos, and from the distant past it possessed the right of asylum, and was famous as a place of refuge not merely for fugitives and exiles, but also for various kings of Sparta. On the N side of the temple was the brook where Herakles is supposed to have ravished Aleos' daughter Auge. Her exposed son Telephos later became king of Mysia and Pergamon.

In the area of the sanctuary have been found the remains of an archaic temple whose cult-statue was carved by the Attic sculptor Endoios and transported by Augustus to Rome, where it was placed in the Forum Augustum. The archaic temple burned down in 395-394 and was replaced in the middle of the 4th c. Skopas designed the new temple and its sculptures. The remains of this temple were discovered in 1879-80 and excavated from 1900 to 1902. A complete reconstruction of the architecture is now possible, but our knowledge of the accompanying sculptures (metopes and pediments) is still unsatisfactory, despite the fact that outstanding fragments are to be found in the museums at Tegea and Athens (nos. 178-180). The surviving sculptures should be dated around 340 B.C.

The temple foundations are of rubble-work. The krepis and the other parts of the building are of marble from Doliana. On the stylobate, which measures 47.52 x 19.16 m, was the peristalsis, 14 Doric columgs long and 6 wide. The columns were 19.16 m high. Two ramps to the N and E lead to the stylobate. The cella also had a door to the N. The pronaos and opisthodomos also had Doric columns. Above them were carved metopes which have almost completely vanished but inscriptions for which remain on the architrave (IG v.2 no. 78-79). Inside the cella were Corinthian half-columns arranged in such a way that the Ionic bases are an extension of the wall base. The Corinthian capitals show the henceforth canonical acanthus leaves between the volutes, instead of the palmette seen at Bassai-Phigalia.

On the E the metopes showed the fight of Herakles with Kepheus and his sons on the W, the Telephos myth. The E pediment showed the Calydonian boar hunt with Meleager and Atalanta, the W pediment again depicting the Telephos myth. Counting the splendid plant-acroteria of the pediment, the temple was 15.7 m high. In the E of the temple the substructure of the altar measured some 11 x 23 m.

In the 5th c. an Early Christian basilica was installed in the cella, use being made of a salvaged door.

The market, which was rectangular according to Pausanias, has been identified as having been W of the theater and the Church of Palaio Episkopi. The agora had colonnades. An inscription and various finds show the existence of a common table and a weights and measures office of the agoranomon, as well as a macellum.

In the park to the W of the Palaio Episkopi are the remains of an Early Christian basilica of the 5th c., with one nave and mosaic paving showing the twelve seasons and the rivers Tigris and Euphrates.

Tegea's acropolis was located on the hill of Haghios Sostis, which was inhabited from Mycenaean times. It is identical with a place named Phylaktris or Akra ( Paus. 8.48.4 , Polyb. 5.17.2). Here was situated the Temple of Athena Polias, which was not the same as that of Athena Alea. No remains of it have been found. On the NE side of Haghios Sostis excavations have uncovered a Sanctuary of Demeter-Kore which cannot be identified with that mentioned by Pausanias as belonging to the agora. Finds are in the National Museum at Athens and in the museum at Tegea. There are important questions concerning the city area that can be answered only after further excavations.

For finds collected in the museum, see the Bibliography below.


On the Temple of Athena Alea: C. Dugas, u.a. Le Sanctuaire d'Aléa Athéna (1924) MPI W. B. Dinsmoor, The Architecture of Ancient Greece (1950) 217-20 PI G. Gruben, Die Tempel der Griechen (1966) 124ff PI .

On the Sculpture for the Temple of Athena Alea: P. E. Arias, Scopas (1952) 16ff G. Lippold, HdArch. III (Griech. Plastik) 250f Neufunde: Christou, Deltion 20 (1965) Chronika 170, pl. 151, 152a, Deltion 21 (1966) 152ff, pls. 146-47, 149a (Relief with Artemis) A. Delivorrias, AAA 1 (1968) 117ff, ill. 1.

Reconstruction of the West Pediment: J. Boardman et al., Die Griech. Kunst (1966) 177, ill. 196 D. Delivorrias, BCH 97 (1973) 111-35.

On the Akroterion: H. Gropengiesser, Die pflanzlichen Akrotere klass. Tempel (1961) 29ff, pls. 23-29.

On the Theater: Vallois, BCH 50 (1926) 135-73 H. Bulle, Untersuchungen an griech. Theatern (1928) 259-60.

The Bronzes from Tegea: Dugas, BCH 45 (1921) 340-94 I W. Lamb, Greek and Roman Bronzes (1929) 91-96, 152f W. Fuchs, Arch.Anz. (1956) 1ff.

On Archaic Sculpture from Tegea: V. Müller, Frühe Plastik in Griechenland und Kleinasien (1929) passim.

On the Christian Basilica: A. K. Orlandos, ArchByzMnem 1 (1935) 103f, 145ff (Palaio Episkopi) id., He xylostegos palaiochristianike Basilike (1954) passim id., “Die einschiffige frühchristl. Basilika westl. von Palaio Episkopi,” Arch.Anz. (1934), 156 G. A. Soteriou, Atti del 4° Congresso Internazionale di Archeologia Christiana I (1940) 365f, ill. 12-13.

The Museum: In the museum at Tegea (also in Athens) are the finds from the Sanctuary of Athena Alea, along with the Late Mycenaean sherds (Inv. 942.946) and the Cyclades-idol (Dugas, BCH 45 [1921] 403 & 427 no. 362, fig. 65) Late Mycenaean containers from the cupola-grave near Serantapotamos (the Alpheios of Pausanias [Callmer 24f, unpublished]) the prehistoric ceramics from Agiorgitika (Blegen, MetrMusStud. 3 [1930-31] 55-70) and Asea (E. J. Holmberg, The Swedish Excavations at Asea [1944]), as well as the archaic discoveries from the Athena-Poseidon sanctuary in Asea (Rhomaios, Ephemeris [1957] 114ff) also the finds from the Sanctuary of Artemis Knakeatis S of Tegea ( Paus. 8.53.11 , Rhomaios, Ephemeris [1952: 1955] 1-31).

The National Endowment for the Humanities provided support for entering this text.


Walking through the plains of ancient Tegea, we find our steps leading us along the pathways of a powerful Arcadian city-state, which during its peak occupied the southern part of eastern Arcadia. According to the myth, the city of Tegea was the home of Aleus, who is said to have built the famous Temple of Athena Alea in the region. In terms of etymology, the name Tegea is associated with the Greek word “tegos”, which means roof, alluding to the fact that it was a sheltered and walled-in city. Tegea flourished and grew economically during the Roman Imperial period. During the Byzantine era, around the 8th-9th century AD, Tegea was renamed to Amyklion, and was also nicknamed Nykli.

Tegea, together with Mantineia, were two of the greatest cities in Arcadia during antiquity. According to ancient myths, Tegea took part in the Expedition of the Argonauts and in the Trojan war, led by King Agapenor.

Pan, Athena Alea, the poet Anyte of Tegea, the historian Ariaithos, Diotima, mythical or real figures, influenced the life and activities of the Tegeans throughout their long history.

The Tegeans stood out as founders of colonies, such as those on Crete, Cyprus and elsewhere.

A long history, marked by internal and external migration, full of difficult struggles for dominance, progress and survival.

As a settlement based on a city plan, ancient Tegea was established relatively early. This political development was the product of a synoecism of the villages across which the Tegeans were dispersed. The city wall – very few parts of which were found during past excavations – had an ovular shape, a 5500m perimeter and five gates. It included the modern-day villages of Alea, Episkopi and part of Stadio, and had been built on a level plain. In the center of the enclosure, which is currently known as “Palaia Episkopi”, we find the agora, the political, religious and cultural centre of ancient Tegea. In this archaeological park, one can find a section of the ancient city’s theatre, under the church of the Dormition. The monument was funded by Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 174 BC. West of the theatre, one can take a tour of the enclosed archaeological site to see the remains of a palaio-Christian three-aisled basilica and a few traces of the ancient agora’s eastern boundary.

The impressive park of Palaia Episkopi hides within it, apart from captivating natural beauty, many remnants from all historical periods. The Byzantine church of the Dormition was built on the ancient theatre and served as the metropolitan church of the Diocese of Amykles. In its current form, the church was built in 1888 based on Ziller’s designs and was adorned with the exceptional frescoes of A. Asteriadis. Facing the western entrance of the church, there are rows of tall trees leading to the few ruins of the walls of Nikli and the marble column dedicated to the Olympic Games and the first torch relay for the Berlin Olympics (1936). To the southwest of the park, in the old Housekeeping School, stands one of the best Folk Museums in Arcadia.

Visitors to the Folk Museum have the opportunity to see the entire culture and daily life of rural Tegea unfold before them, through the numerous objects/exhibits which are a treasure trove of memories. These are remnants of a different era, which bring to life the modern heritage of Tegea.

The most famous monument in the ancient city of Tegea, however, is the temple of Athena Alea in Alea. The architectural designs of the classical marble temple are the work of one of antiquity’s most famous sculptors, Parios Scopas. Pausanias stated that it prevails among all the other temples in the Peloponnese in terms of construction and size. The exterior of the temple is fairly plain, with the exception of the sculptural compositions of the gables, which are inspired by local legends. Around and outside the city, in the broader region of ancient Tegeatis, there were of course many more temples and places of worship, which flourished during antiquity. Two of them are the temple of Artemis Knakeatis, at the “Psili Korfi” site above Mavriki village, and the Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore in the Agios Sostis settlement of Tegea. Ancient guard posts on hills of the villages in Tegea and various other ancient remnants make up the puzzle of ancient Tegea, bearing witness to another era.

Today, Tegea encompasses the large geographical area of the plain, which is on the eastern side of the Mantineia plateau, 8 km from the city of Tripoli, and it includes a total of 16 villages: Alea, Vouno, Garea, Episkopi, Kamari, Kandalos, Kerasitsa, Lithovounia, Magoula, Manthyrea, Mavriki, Rizes, Stadio, Strigkou, Tziva and Psili Vryssi. This is a predominantly agricultural area. Its plain is one of the most fertile in Arcadia, full of orchards, gardens, vineyards and crops. It is fertile land, and a promised land for Arcadia, which is cultivated by its residents, producing exceptional apples, pears, cherries, potatoes and vegetables, the most popular of which is the fragrant garlic growing in the region. During spring, a walk through the dirt roads of the plain is a unique experience, with the blooming apple and cherry trees creating a beautiful landscape full of the fragrances of the blossoms. In the squares of Tegea’s villages, visitors come across majestic churches, each one with its own history. In the area of Tegea, at an altitude of 650m, lies Lake Taka, which is an important wetland of the Peloponnese, with birds and fish. It is also an important source of water for the crops in the Tegeatic plain. The religious feasts throughout the year and the large fair held on 15 August in Palaia Episkopi are popular events attracting visitors from the region and beyond.

A point of reference for the region of Tegea is the Ancient Museum of Tegea, which was completed in 1909. In 2005 and 2013 it was included in European operational programmes, which led to an upgrade of its premises and its reopening. It is now a contemporary model museum, which smartly combines its exhibits with any available digital media, completely changing its old image. The exhibition programme of the Museum tells the story of the birth and growth of Tegea, the most powerful city in ancient Arcadia. The temples are the area’s highlights, especially the temple of Athena Alea. In 2016 the Museum received a special commendation at the European Museum of the Year Awards.

The square of Stadio village is dominated by the Metropolitan Church of Saint Dimitrios. Next to it lies the building of the Cultural Center of the Michael N. Stassinopoulos – VIOHALCO (MSVF) Public Benefit Foundation. The Cultural Center is housed in a renovated two-storey building with a plain design, and is a cultural hub for the entire region of Tegea.

Soon the Foundation will expand to include building B, which lies a few meters away from the main Cultural Center, and will house workshops, an exhibition space and other amenities.

Watch the video: Art History we learn Temple of Athena Nike Athens (January 2022).