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THERMOS Aitolia, Greece.

Located on a mountain plateau above the NE end of Lake Trichonis, 34 km from Agrinion, near the modern village of Kephalovryso, the site was settled in the Late Bronze Age. Described as place or topos (Polyb. 5.7.8), the Classical site was the center of Aitolian worship and the meeting place of the Aitolian League, where annual magistrates were elected and large market fairs held (Polyb. 58.4ff). Some time after the invasion by Antipater and Krateros in 323 B.C. the site was organized in its present form as a fortified temenos. Twice ravaged by Philip V of Macedon, in 218 and 206 B.C. (Polyb. 5.9; 11.7.2), the site continued in use until the reduction of the League in 168 B.C. and perhaps longer. This is attested by a number of inscribed monument bases of the 2d c. B.C. found within the temenos. The discovery of graves of the 1st c. B.C. over some of the public buildings indicates that the site was no longer the League center at this time.

Excavations have uncovered a large temenos 340 m long and 200 m wide, laid out at the base of Mt. Mega Lakkos. It is enclosed on three sides by a massive fortification wall with square towers at intervals of 42 m. The main entrance to the enclosure, guarded by two round towers, lies at the SW corner. A second smaller entrance lies near the NE corner of the temenos. Within the enclosure near the main entrance is a long stoa facing N, which runs parallel to the S peribolos wall at a distance of 35 m from it. Only partially excavated, the stoa has buttressed foundations along the S side, eight columns across the narrow E and presumably also across the W end. To the SE of the stoa near the SE corner of the enclosure is a large rectangular building 20 x 26 m with a three-stepped crepidoma and a broad porch on the N side. Although the interior is as yet unexcavated, the building has been identified as the meeting house or bouleuterion of the League. In front of the porch is a row of statue and stelai bases. A broad avenue 25 m wide, framed to E and W by long stoas, extends N from the bouleuterion. The E stoa, which runs along the base of the mountain slope, is 173 m long with Doric columns across the W face. Behind the stoa to the E is a strong retaining wall, and between wall and stoa were found many roof tiles and terracotta antefixes. The W stoa is ca. 185 m long with buttressed rear wall, Doric columns on its facade, and bases for an interior colonnade. In front of both stoas are many monument bases of primarily 3d c. B.C. date, undoubtedly those destroyed by Philip V in his two attacks on the site. Near an exedra located before the middle of the E stoa were found six fragments of a trophy commemorating the victory of the Aitolians over the Gauls in 279 B.C. The fragments preserve elliptical shields, tasseled cloaks, and armor. Pausanias (10.18.7) describes a similar monument depicting armed Aitolia erected at Delphi. Just N of the W stoa there is a small fountain in polygonal masonry built about a natural spring. At the N end of the long avenue near the NE quarter of the temenos is the Temple of Apollo Thermios. The identification is known from an inscribed bronze stele found beneath the floor, a record of a treaty between Aitolians and Acarnanians to be set up within the temple. Oriented N-S, the temple is Doric peripteral with 5 x 15 columns. The stylobate and lowest drums of eight columns are preserved intact. The cella consists of a long narrow naos without pronaos, and opisthodomos. A single row of columns runs down the central axis of the cella. Since no fragments of a stone superstructure were found, the entablature must have been of wood, the cella walls of mudbrick. Among the reused blocks incorporated into the foundations was a fragmentary inscription of the mid 3d c. B.C., which thereby dates the temple in this form to the latter part of the century, presumably after Philip's second sack in 206 B.C. The 3d c. temple represents a remodeling of an earlier temple having the same plan and dimensions, also of mudbrick and wood on stone foundations. Part of the foundations were incorporated into the W pteron of the later structure. To this earlier building belongs an elaborate series of terracotta revetments found scattered about the temple site. These include roof tiles, simas, at least two series of antefixes decorated in relief with human busts, a sphinx acroterion and 10 fragmentary metope plaques with painted representations. The plaques are less than a m in height or in width, with two tangs projecting from the upper edge for socketing into the overlying cornice. Decoration is confined to the center of the plaque, framed on two sides by a broad border of painted rosettes. Among the representations are Perseus with the head of Gorgo, a hunter (Herakles?) with boar and fawn, and Chelidon and Aidon about to dissect Itys. The pictorial style of the metopes indicates that the building was erected late in the 7th c., ca. 630-610 B.C. It is therefore one of the earliest developed Doric temples known and a monument of primary importance for our knowledge of the history of Greek architecture. The second, more advanced series of antefixes with bearded men and silenes attest to a partial remodeling of the roof in the second half of the 6th c. B.C. Generally considered to be a product of Corinthian workmanship, the temple is more probably a product of local workshops, perhaps under Corinthian influence. The metopes are inscribed in a mixed alphabet which may well be Aitolian and are executed in local clay. The simas, moreover, are crowned with antefixes in a manner unknown to date at Corinth. Beneath the archaic temple is a still earlier building of Geometric date, the so-called Megaron B, a long three-roomed structure with slightly different axis, surrounded by an elliptical colonnade. Although often identified as a chieftain's house, the building enclosed thick layers of ash, containing burnt animal bones, pottery, and several bronze votive statuettes, and it was undoubtedly also a temple. Beneath Megaron B and to the N of it were found several houses of Late Mycenaean date, part of the earliest settlement which occupied the site. Immediately E of the Hellenistic temple is a retaining wall incorporating reused blocks from a Doric stoa, as a fragmentary inscribed epistyle reveals. Nearby to the E is a smaller temple, a small rectangular cella with double colonnade across the S facade, identified by an inscription found nearby as that of Apollo Lyseios. Painted terracotta metopes found within the temple with representations of the Charites, Iris, and the Centaur Polos, may belong to its original construction in the late 7th c. To the NW of the main temple near the NE entrance to the temenos is a small, poorly preserved structure tentatively identified as a Temple of Artemis. To it have been assigned several architectural revetments. A few isolated foundations were uncovered outside the temenos to the SE. Best preserved is a small fountain possibly of the 3d c. It is well built in ashlar masonry with five spouts and is fed by a terracotta drain from a source within the sanctuary.

Most of the finds from the excavations are located in a small museum on the site. A few of the best preserved metopes and roof tiles are in the National Museum of Athens.


G. Soteriades, Praktika (1897) 18-21; (1898) 104-10; (1899) 57-66; (1901) 34-37; (1902) 49-52; id., “Anaskaphai en Thermo,” ArchEph (1900) 161-212; (1903) 71-96; (1905) 55-100; id., “The Greek Excavations at Thermos,” Records of the Past I (1902) 172-81; G. Kawerau & Soteriades, AntDenk 2.5 (1902-8) 1-8, pls. 49-52a; K. Rhomaios, “Erevnai en Thermo,” Deltion 1 (1915) 225-84; 2 (1916) 179-89; id., Praktika (1931) 61-70; H. Payne, “On the Thermon Metopes,” BSA 27 (1925-26) 124-32; L. H. Jeffery, Local Scripts of Archaic Greece (1961) 225-27; H. Drerup, “Zu Thermos B,” Marburger Winkelmann-Programm (1963) 1-12.


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