Context: Miletus
Type: Altar
Summary: Rectangular altar building with projecting staircase leading to the altar terrace; located at the shore at ancient Cape Poseidon (modern TekagaƧ) south of Miletus and ca. 7 km. distant from Didyma
Date: ca. 575 BC

Dimensions of altar building at socle level: 9.47 m. (east side) x 11.09 m. (north side). Width of staircase 6.52 m. Length of staircase 8.36 m. Height of altar wall: socle course 0.24 m.; first masonry course 0.25 m.; orthostate course 0.546 m.; third masonry course 0.254 m.; astragal and ovolo molding course 0.195 m.; top molding course 0.204 m.; cap molding 0.238 m. Height of volute acroteria 0.92 m. Dimensions of sacrificial altar 1.80 m. x 2.98 m.

Region: Ionia
Period: Archaic


The altar building consists of two rectangular forms, the altar terrace itself and the adjoining staircase of six steps. The altar is oriented to the east, and the entrance via the staircase is at the west. The sacrificial altar itself stood on the altar terrace, close to the east wall.

Date Description:

The altar is dated based on the form of its architectural decoration (volutes with convex canal and no eye; form of ovolo and astragal), and through the evidence of the masonry technique. The archaic Artemision at Ephesos is cited by the excavators as the closest parallel for the construction technique.


The altar was constructed in the first half of the sixth century B.C. Strabo records that it was built by Neleus, mythical founder of Miletus. Strabo 14.633. Although this is apocryphal, it probably indicates that a cult to Poseidon existed at the location since earliest times. The altar shows no evidence of restoration or reconstruction, and probably stood intact until the Byzantine period, when an earthquake may have damaged it extensively. Thereafter, the marble blocks of the superstructure were taken away, probably by sea, for reuse elsewhere.

Other Notes:

A round marble statue base of archaic form was found in the vicinity of the altar. Other small finds include coins, pottery fragments, and Hellenistic and Roman glass fragments, indicating that dedications were made at the altar over a number of centuries.

Other Bibliography:

von Gerkan 1915, 443-466, pls. 1-27; Dinsmoor 1975, 140, fig. 51.