Sparta Society to the Battle of Leuctra, 371 BC

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Architecture: Amyklaion, Menelaion, the Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia

See text: pp.105-107; pp.133-139

The Amyklaion, p.106-7

Read the first paragraph.
Description: What description is there in the first paragraph?
Role (function): What reference is there to the function of the building?
Evidence: What evidence is provided?

Description: 5km south of Sparta; contained a statue of Apollo; free-standing statues of “Graces”, “Seasons”, Echidna, Typhon, Tritons; the base was a block – “shaped like an altar”; a bronze door; a continuous frieze.
Role: shrine to Apollo – ‘throne’ of cult statue; tomb of Hyakinthos – buried in the base of the statue; place of sacrifices to Apollo and offerings to Hyakinthos.
Evidence: Pausanias’ “Description of Greece”

Read the second paragraph.
Description: limited archaeological evidence: oriental influence in decoration; mixture of Ionian and Doric styles.
Role: -
Evidence: Archaeological fragments, e.g. section of lotus and palmette frieze.

  • Complete this for the next three paragraphs.
  • Then, put it all together in a full response to the following question:
Describe the main features of the Amyklaion. (6 marks)


  • Mentioned but not described by Pausanias.
  • Hector Catling: first Menelaion – late 7th early 6th C BC.
  • Small but monumental.
  • Early 5th C BC rebuilt.
  • 8 metres tall. Parapet faced with blue limestone and white marble.

Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia
  • Between Limnos and the Eurotas R.
  • Built up above flood level.
  • Pottery fragments go back to 10th C. BC. An alter with remains of early sacrifices.
  • Excavated 1906-10: a late 8th C temple followed by an early 6th C temple; and an altar.
  • Votive objects found: lead figurines 2 - 5.5cm. Also ivory objects, brooch plates, statuettes, grotesque masks.
  • Site of ‘cheese-stealing’ ritual.
  • Festival: May/June. Rite of passage festival for Spartan youths who live in the wild and then attempt to steal cheese from the sanctuary while being whipped by the crowd. According to Pausanias (3.16. 9-11) it became a substitute for human sacrifice.