Archaeological Sites

Temple of Ares and Aphrodite at Ellinika

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Temple of Ares and Aphrodite

In a flat area next to the modern settlement of Ellinika, between Agios Nikolaos and Elounda, at the borderline between the ancient city-states of Lato and Olous, a very old sanctuary dedicated to Aphrodite (the «ancient Aphrodision» according to late 2nd century BC) inscriptions had been erected.

When the conflicts between the two cities over border disputes escalated, at the site of the ruined single-spaced sanctuary, another temple was erected (2nd century BC) dedicated to two gods, Mars and Aphrodite. The rectangular temple (4 x 9 metres in size, of geometrical design) was directed to the west. In front of its facade there was a trapezoid altar, which quite possibly occupied the central area of a vestibule with five columns. Research indicates that the structure had not been used after the Geometric times and possibly, by the end of the 2nd century BC, it was already deserted.

In later times, west of the altar, the city of Lato founded a two-aisled temple directed to the east, which featured a common vestibule (built later on the pre-existing altar) for both aisles. There was a separate entrance to each aisle from the common vestibule. The stone lintel of the eastern entrance of the south aisle (dedicated to Mars) remains to this day, as shown by the discovery of an inscription that refers to construction works in the temple of Mars. The southern aisle could also be accessed through the southern wall of the temple.

The inscriptions reveal the course of subsequent add-ons and repairs of the later temple as well as the developments on the border disputes that were resolved with the mediation (demarcation and arbitrage) of Knossos, Rome and Miletus. Finally, the temple and the area were given to Lato.