Isis and Osiris in Attica
2007-02-18 0:00

By Iota Sykka | ekathimerini.com

Project to rescue ancient Egyptian temple at Brexiza is saved.

A 2.1-meter statue of Isis, holding roses. The rose was Aphrodite’s flower and a sacred plant in Egypt.


It was one of the Culture Ministry’s grandest plans for the Olympics – but was never implemented. Highlighting the Egyptian temple at Brexiza as part of an archaeological and tourist itinerary that would have included the site of Rhamnus, the Marathon Museum, Tymbos and the Tsepi cemetery would have been an interesting project for an archaeological site in Attica that is significant both for its size and the finds that have been unearthed there.

That was the theory, but in practice the prefecture rejected the project. Now it has been saved at the last minute at the initiative of Culture Ministry General Secretary Christos Zachopoulos, who has found a way to include it as a sub-project to technical work on the Lavrion mines, thus securing the sum of 400,000 euros, which will come from Third and Fourth Community Support Framework funds.

Iphigenia Dekoulakou, excavator of the Egyptian temple and an archaeologist with 35 years in the field, sounded the alarm. “The walls must be stabilized or the temple will collapse. Fragile materials and damp are the temple’s basic problems.”

A visit to Mikro Elos in Brexiza on the borders of the Marathon and Nea Makri municipalities is revealing.

Partly underwater, partly overgrown with weeds and separated from the sea by a road, the site is eye-catching. Dotted about are statues of Osiris and Isis – copies of course, as the originals are in the Marathon Museum.

The excavation is barely complete and the need for stabilization and conservation work is urgent.

One of the most recent finds was a bronze head and hand that were taken for restoration to the Piraeus Museum, which is the only place that has the appropriate workshop.

The pool, which is half inside, half outside the fence “was something common in villas on the outskirts of Rome,” explained Dekoulakou. They were used mainly to raise fish and were always close to the villa. “They were common there, but here it is a unique find.”

Since 2001, when she began exploring the site, Dekoulakou observed that the temple surrounds a four-sided court, with sides of unequal length ranging from 60.5 to 64.6 meters, onto which opened four grand portals, one on each side. “The entrances had marble steps, thresholds, pilaster strips and lintels, on the exterior of which is a relief of a solar disk with a tail. To the right and left of each of the entrances were four marble pedestals for statues, two inside and two outside the gates.”

The entrances were like bastions and emulate the style of Egyptian portals. Since the discovery of the first two Egyptian-style statues on the site in 1968, six statues have been found, including an intact marble sphinx, a gray stone sphinx in two pieces and a portrait of Polydeuces.

Dekoulakou told us how, when she first went to the site in 2001, she saw what looked like little mounds, as if antiquity thieves had been at work. “We started there to see what they had taken. But we discovered the south portal. We realized there were four and we found them all.”

In fact the site had not been raided: “They had dug a hole but luckily that hadn’t found the two large statues of Isis and Osiris; they missed them by half a meter.”

What more does the excavator expect from the dig? “Sculptures and the rest of the architectural shape of the temple. But the stabilization work has to come first.”

Seventy rare oil lamps
Among the outstanding finds from the Brexiza site are 70 large lamps, the only ones of their kind. As Dekoulakou points out, “it is their size – 40 centimeters wide from the handle to the wick and 12 centimeters high – that makes them unusual. On them are relief busts of Serapis and Isis.”

What are they doing at Nea Makri? “It is not a question of the area but of the cult. We have evidence from a 4th century BC inscription that a temple to Isis was founded in Piraeus. The cult of Isis and the Egyptian gods gradually spread throughout the Roman world. In Greece, it was linked to Demeter and Aphrodite, because the goddess possesses features that can be adapted to the cult of the Greek deities. She was the protector of agriculture in Egypt, the god of love and marriage, the protector of women.”

Article from: http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/news/content.asp?aid=80105



Related Articles


Latest News from our Front Page

Your Smartphone Could be Tracking You Every 3 Minutes, Study Says
2015-04-01 2:24
Your apps want to know where you are Smartphone apps regularly collect large amounts of data on users’ locations, sometimes as often as every three minutes, new research suggests. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University conducted a study where they asked 23 people to use their Android smartphones normally, and tracked location data requests from each device with specially designed software, the Wall ...
Facebook accused of tracking all users even if they delete accounts, ask never to be followed
2015-04-01 2:14
A new report claims that Facebook secretly installs tracking cookies on users’ computers, allowing them to follow users around the internet even after they’ve left the website, deleted their account and requested to be no longer followed. Academic researchers said that the report showed that the company was breaking European law with its tracking policies. The law requires that users are ...
'Gay cake' bakery discriminated against client over sexual orientation, court told
2015-04-01 2:37
David Scoffield QC, acting for the bakery, said if Lee’s argument was right, a Muslim printer could not turn down a contract to print leaflets about the prophet Muhammad, an atheist could not turn down an order saying God made the world and a Roman Catholic printer could not decline making leaflets calling for the legalisation of abortion on demand. Judge ...
Gay rights groups criticize Indiana religious liberties law
2015-04-01 0:10
Editor's note: Would it be ok if a court forced a bakery operated by homosexuals, to make a cake for a Christian that says: "Homosexuality is a sin"? What would the reactions be? One way tolerance? Respecting peoples beliefs extends in all directions or in no direction. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed a religious liberties bill into law Thursday that has been ...
Daily Show's Trevor Noah under fire for Twitter jokes about Jews and women
2015-04-01 0:01
Trevor Noah – the surprise choice to succeed Jon Stewart as high-profile host of satirical news program The Daily Show – has come under fire for a series of controversial tweets he posted before his appointment. The South African comedian – son of a Swiss-German father and half-Jewish South African mother – was criticised for having made tasteless jokes about Jews ...
More News »