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OROPOS (Skala Oropou) Greece.

Pausanias describes Oropia as the territory between Attica and Tanagra (1.34.1); thus it was situated on the mainland side of the Euripos between Rhamnous and Delion, with Eretria opposite. Such a position easily explains its checkered history. Geographically more naturally related to Boiotia than Attica, Oropos was nevertheless of economic importance to Athens because of the short crossover from Euboia to Oropos and the direct road thence to the city through Dekeleia, one of Athens' main lines of supply (Thuc. 7.28.1). It is therefore not surprising that control of Oropos passed frequently back and forth between Athens and Thebes, with a few interludes of autonomy.

The town of Oropos was on the site of the present Skala Oropou, where a few ancient harbor installations and many architectural blocks have been noticed, in addition to a number of dedications to the “salty” nymph. In the next harbor to the E of Skala, 20 stades away, there are also remains from an ancient mole at Kamaraki, identified as Delphinion, Oropos' “Sacred Harbor” mentioned by Strabo (9.2.6). Three km N of this coast in the hills lay the territory's most famous possession, the Sanctuary and Oracle of Amphiaraos. Here, in a deeply wooded glen beside a ravine, the cult of Amphiaraos was established in the last years of the 5th c. B.C. It grew in popularity, and for the next three centuries the site was developed, not merely as a place of divination, but also as one of healing. The sanctuary continued to exist until the 4th c. A.D. when it was abandoned, probably because of the dominance of Christianity.

The excavations of the sanctuary have revealed development on both sides of the ravine: on the N, the temple, altar, spring, and other buildings associated with the observances of the cult; on the S, the dwellings and establishments, not only of the priests and their associates, but also of those who provided for the wants of the pilgrims and the sick.

Today one enters the sanctuary from the W on the N side of the torrent bed. The first building one sees is on the right, the Temple of Amphiaraos, with its porch of six Doric columns enframed by a pair of half columns. In front are the earliest remains yet found: the large altar, built around two earlier ones, with some traces of curved seating to the N, from which to view the sacred proceedings, and to the S the much rebuilt holy spring “where they say Amphiaraos arose as a god” (Pausanias 1.34.4). North and E of the temple is a line of bases to support the dedications made in Hellenistic times. Originally, this artificial terrace had been prepared for a small temple and stoa, the latter believed to have served as a place of incubation. This function was probably transferred to the long stoa E of the bases, a building securely dated ca. 350 B.C. Yet farther E are the foundations of a bathing establishment. The site's most interesting structure lies behind and above the W half of the long stoa: a small Hellenistic theater with auditorium, circular orchestra with five marble thrones, and scene-building complete with stone proscenium.

On the opposite side of the ravine, the remains, though extensive, are tenuous, and in most cases one cannot determine the purpose of the individual buildings. One exception lies directly opposite the altar, the unmistakable ruins of a klepsydra or water clock.

There is a small museum with courtyard in which have been placed a number of the sculptural, epigraphic, and architectural finds.


B. Petrakos, Ὠροπὸς καὶ τὸ Ἱερὸν τοῦ Ἀμφιαράου (1968)MPI; id., Ἐπιγραφαὶ Ὀροποῦ, AAA 1 (1968) 69-73; J. J. Coulton, “The Stoa at the Amphiaraion, Oropos,” BSA 63 (1968) 147-83PI.


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