An Altar Beyond Olympus for a Deity Predating Zeus
Before Zeus hurled his first thunderbolt from Olympus, the pre-Greek people occupying the land presumably paid homage and offered sacrifices to their own gods and goddesses, whose nature and identities are unknown to scholars today.
But archaeologists say they have now found the ashes, bones and other evidence of animal sacrifices to some pre-Zeus deity on the summit of Mount Lykaion, in the region of Greece known as Arcadia. The remains were uncovered last summer at an altar later devoted to Zeus.
Fragments of a coarse, undecorated pottery in the debris indicated that the sacrifices might have been made as early as 3000 B.C., the archaeologists concluded. That was about 900 years before Greek-speaking people arrived, probably from the north in the Balkans, and brought their religion with them./Greek speaking people came from North in the Balkans??? What that makes them, trakians? Hmmmm, that's very funny, though I believe wrong/
The excavators were astonished. They were digging in a sanctuary to Zeus, in Greek mythology the father of gods and goddesses. From texts in Linear B, an ancient form of Greek writing, Zeus is attested as a pre-eminent god as early as 1400 B.C. By some accounts, the birthplace of Zeus was on the heights of Lykaion.
After reviewing the findings of pottery experts, geologists and other archaeologists, David Gilman Romano of the University of Pennsylvania concluded that material at the Lykaion altar “suggests that the tradition of devotion to some divinity on that spot is very ancient” and “very likely predates the introduction of Zeus in the Greek world.” /yeah, I wonder who they deityfied/
Other archaeologists familiar with the discovery tended to agree with Dr. Romano’s interpretation, though they said that continuing excavations this summer and next should reach a more definitive understanding of the altar’s possible pre-Greek use.
“We certainly know that Zeus and a female version of Zeus were worshiped in prehistoric times,” Dr. Davis continued in an e-mail message. “The trick will be in defining the precise nature of the site itself before historical times.”
Ken Dowden, director of the Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity at the University of Birmingham, in England, who was not involved in the research, said that it was not surprising to find the migrating Greeks adapting a sanctuary dedicated to gods of an earlier religion for the worship of their own gods. “Even Christians would on occasion reuse a pagan sanctuary in order to transfer allegiance from the preceding religion to Christianity,” he noted.
The affinities of Roman gods and goddesses to earlier Greek ones are well known. Jupiter, for example, is a virtual stand-in for Zeus. In antiquity it was perhaps no heresy to have different names for the same deity. The place of Mount Lykaion in practices venerating Zeus is documented in literature and previous archaeological research.
The Greek traveler Pausanias, writing in the second century A.D., described the sanctuary of Zeus on the mountain, 4,500 feet above the rural countryside.
“On the highest point of the mountain is a mound of earth, forming an altar of Zeus Lykaios, and from it most of the Peloponnesus can be seen,” Pausanias wrote. “Before the altar on the east stand two pillars, on which there were once gilded eagles. On this altar they sacrifice in secret to Lykaion Zeus. I was reluctant to pry into the details of the sacrifice; let them be as they are and were from the beginning.”
Bones, mostly goats and sheep, were collected. A few bronze artifacts were recovered. Also a seal stone with an image of a bull, suggesting influence at one time from Minoan Crete. Altar stones were burned and cracked from the sacrificial fires.
A geological survey by George Davis of the University of Arizona revealed an ancient fault bordering the altar site on three sides. Could this fault be related to the selection of the site? The region is prone to earthquakes.
Dr. Voyatzis said the potsherds were the most telling finds. Their undecorated style, gray color, the feel of the clay and the way it was fired, she said, were diagnostic of pottery 5,000 years ago.
In an e-mail message last week, Dr. Nordquist, who has visited the site but was not a team member, said that the potsherds “may have belonged to vessels found in graves by people in later times and given to the gods as offerings.” Or they could be remains from an early Bronze Age settlement, although she, too, said “it would be a very inconvenient place to live.”
Dr. Nordquist said that she preferred the explanation that the Lykaion site was indeed used as a cult sanctuary in the time before Zeus. Little is known of the pre-Greek inhabitants, but some scholars think they originated in what is now western Turkey.
My comment: First of all, western Turkey simply was part of Vizantian Empire, so it's pretty obvious there were greek there before Turkey. That doesn't mean they come from there. It's nonsense. Second, there were already findings from these times in Bulgaria (which is northern than Greek), that include quite sophisticated golden jewels and pottery. And third of all, how Greece allowed those guys to dig its soil? It's very weird. But then, if they pay, why not. They will dig the site and then Greece will win money from showing it. Maybe one day people will come to Bulgaria too.
On the nephilim part, well, it's pretty obvious. We have a prehistoric cult on a place from where you could see the whole region. If I was a ruler of the province, I'd surely put someone there to watch over. Just like that Taro card where a guy is watching over its dominion. Ok, it's far fetched, I know that. But what really impressed me when I was in the national historic museum here, in Sofia, was an armor that included golden disk on the place of the solar plexus. And it dated I think from 5000 years ago. Also the sophisticated golden stuff-first, what's that obsession with gold from a tribe that early in human history and second-the technique required to produce such details is unbelievably. Thus I don't have any doubts there is more to our history than what we know today.
Or, now remembering that it was on three faults, could it be that it was a good place to observe for earthquakes? Why not...