An ancient Greek healing temple has been excavated by archaeologists, who recovered huge statues and were able to reconstruct the architecture at the site. The acropolis at the Feneos site in the eastern foothills sits at an altitude of 750m.
The asclepion (a healing temple sacred to the god Asclepius) was first discovered in 1958 and between 2007 and 2014, archaeologists gradually surveyed and documented the site. In September this year, the Corinth Archaeological Service completed the first excavation programme, and the findings were announced by the Greek Culture Ministry.
The team found the main part of the sanctuary dates to the 2nd century BC. In the main room, there is an inscribed pedestal on which two statues stood – Asclepius and Hygeia. These were by the Athenian sculptor Attalus.
Asclepius, the god of medicine, is seated and is three times the size of a normal person. His daughter, Hygeia, was standing upright beside him at twice normal size. In the centre of the hall there is a mosaic floor with geometric shapes, guilloches and meanders.
In a second room, north of the main hall, there was a podium that would have had two bronze statues standing on it. These were later replaced by stone. In front of the podium was a marble offering table. A room to the south was also found, but its function and purpose is unclear – the only marker is a window in the north-eastern end.
The excavation also showed how the outdoor courtyard (which had been found previously) was in a 'P' shape and that the path of the peristyle and courtyard led to the entrance to the sanctuary via a ramp. The courtyard was plastered with mortar in a range of colours and lion head gutters.
Researchers discovered the first part of the sanctuary, which would have been much smaller, was built towards the end of the fourth century BC, with the main phase of building taking place 200 years later. During the later phase, the main hall was completely reconstructed and the statues were placed there.
The healing sanctuary was probably destroyed by an earthquake in the first century AD. At this time it was reconstructed and converted to imperial worship.