More On The Mt. Lykaion Excavations

I have written about this story previously and was wondering if anything new had been discovered. Turns out it has. According to Science Daily evidence of Zeus worship has been found dating back to the Late Helladic:

In mainland Greece there are very few if any Mycenaean mountain-top altars or shrines. This time period — 14th-13th centuries BC — is approximately the same time that documents inscribed with a syllabic script called Linear B (an archaic form of the Greek language) first mention Zeus as a deity receiving votive offerings. Linear B also provides a word for an ‘open fire altar’ that might describe this altar on Mt. Lykaion as well as a word for a sacred area, temenos, a term known from later historical sources. The shrine on Mt. Lykaion is characterized by simple arrangements: an open air altar and a nearby sacred area, or temenos, which appears to have had no temple or other architectural feature at any time at this site.

According to Science Daily this is pretty good evidence that the worship of Zeus originated in Arcadia (and I would have to agree).

4 Responses

  1. In Arcadia, Greece, high atop Mount Lykaion,
    The weather is rough, but the view is quite nice;
    It’s not a location for children to play on,
    But rather, an altar for burnt sacrifice.
    Mythologists tell us, before written history
    Lykaion was seen as the birthplace of Zeus.
    Archaeologists now have uncovered a mystery—
    Clues, which have thus far been used to deduce
    That a culture was here that predated the Greeks
    And which worshipped, not Zeus, but an earlier god.
    That god is forgotten, and now only speaks
    Through the fragments of artifacts under the sod.
    The earliest pieces are pottery shards
    That date back to 3000 years BCE.
    Which pushes the date back that history regards
    As the date the beginning’s beginnings must be.
    High atop “Wolf Mountain’s” rocky side
    A culture’s history comes into view;
    Where one god was born, another died—
    Reminding us: gods are mortal too.

  2. There is a revivalist movement going on in Greece these days (despite the opposition of the Greek Orthodox Church) with attempts to resurrect the old religious practices . At least they’re not trying to claim old archaeological finds like some Druids I could name.

  3. It is my contention that Jesus was not the son of Jehovah, but was actually Zeus in human form. The locals knew who he was, so when they saw him they all called out ‘Hey, Zeus!’

  4. According to Science Daily this is pretty good evidence that the worship of Zeus originated in Arcadia (and I would have to agree).

    I don’t. According to traditional Greek legends Pelops came from Anatolia. He must have predated the Trojan War by at least two generations (probably more like ten, I’ll expand if you’re interested). Standard dating would put the Trojan war (destruction of Troy VIIa) to “1190 BC“, which is a little late but plausible for Pelops to have arrived early in the LH. He and his henchmen could very well have carried the Zeus cult from Anatolia in time for it to end up in the Peloponnese (Mt. Lykaion) in the time frame involved.
    I would therefore call the question still completely open.
    (Personally I don’t buy the dates given here for the Trojan levels. The article on Troy VII is somewhat screwed up: “The city [Troy VII] was built following the destruction of Troy VIIa, probably by an earthquake, in about 1300 BC.” I suspect they mean “destruction of Troy VI”, which conflicts with the dates given in the TROY article, but I find much more plausible. IMO the Trojan War of the Iliad was the destruction of Troy VI (not Troy VIIa), which would put Pelops arrival in the Peloponnese much earlier in the LH and make a transfer of the Zeus cult from Anatolia much more likely.)

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