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Sanctuary of Asklepion Acropolis South Slope

ahtens greece tourism acropolis south slopeAll thats really left of the much demolished Sanctuary of Asklepioin (the healer) and some miscellaneous detritus archeologists can't decide belongs where, but neatly stacked and labeled is pictured here left.

The sanctuary was founded during the plague of 429 BC which accounted for the deaths of a large proportion of Athens population.

It was during the plague that a deputation was sent to Epidauvros, which was considered the cradle of the cult of the God of Health, to borrow the Sacred Serpent of Asclepios.They aren't sure what kind of plague it was, i.e., small pox or bubonic.

Sacred Snakes

athens greece Medicine at the time consisted of herbal remidies and sleep therapy. A special sleeping room was set up for patients who hoped for divine healing visits from the god while sleeping. Patients would bring votive offerings depending on what it was they needed healed. Often these offerings were clay statuettes of the afllicted organ: ears, feet, penis, etc. You can see many of these in the museums of Greece.

Non poisonous snakes, it may be noted, besides eating your childrens gerbils and hamsters, eat cockroaches, mice and rats, which carry fleas, which can also carry plague virus.

Most Greek and Roman houses had a pet snake that lived in a sacred special hole/living area near the hearth alter. May be cats werent local to these areas too?

Not so odd after all was it? And they make a quiet pet. But snakes were sacred to the OLd Religion of The Mother which existed until Athens King Thesues supplanted it with the Olympian Gods.

The sanctuary measures 330' by 99' and has 3 indispensable elements for a sanctuary to Asclepios: a sacred spring for purification, a temple for prayer, and an abaton where the sick lay waiting for a visit from the God to heal them. Its kind of dissapointing and the lack of signs and information doesnt help either. Many other Sanctuaries to Asklipion exist most notably at Epidavros, Peloponnese.