The sanctuary of Artemis at Brauron (Modern Greek Vravrona) is an early sacred site on the eastern coast of Attica near the Aegean Sea in a small inlet. The inlet has silted up since ancient times, pushing the current shoreline farther from the site. A nearby hill, c. 24 m high and 220 m to the southeast, was inhabited during the Neolithic era, c. 2000 BCE, and flourished particularly from Middle Helladic to early Mycenaean times (2000–1600 BC) as a fortified site (acropolis). Occupation ceased in the LHIIIb period, and the acropolis was never significantly resettled after this time. There is a gap in the occupation of the site from LHIIIb until the 8th century BCE. Brauron was one of the twelve ancient settlements of Attica prior to the synoikismos of Theseus, who unified them with Athens.
In 1945, Ioannes Papadimitriou began excavating this site. Professor Ch. Bouras continued the restoration during the 1950s to 1962. Among the fifth-century monuments are the Π-shaped stoa around the interior courtyard, opening toward the temple of Artemis; the small temple (perhaps a heroon of Iphigeneia); and the stone bridge over the Erasinos River. Building repair inscriptions from the site list many more structures than have been recovered to this point, including a palaestra and a gymnasion.
Temple of Artemis
The first known temple at the sanctuary – dating to the late 6th century BCE – rests on a low rock spur south of the river and is aligned toward the east on a foundation measuring c. 11 by 20 m. Little is preserved beyond partial lower courses and cuttings in the bedrock for the same. There are a few remains of the architecture that allow a certain identification of the temple as being of the Doric order. The Persians destroyed the sanctuary structures in 480 BCE and took the cult statue back to Susa. (Further reading…)
This stone bridge is the only known example of a Classical period bridge in Greece. It uses the standard post and lintel construction of its time, rather than arches as later bridges do. It measured c. 9 m wide with a span of c. 8 m that consisted of four rows of lintel blocks resting on five rows of posts (the two end points and three intermediate supports). Wheel ruts are cut into the stones of the bridge at an oblique angle toward a simple entrance on the west side of the stoa; these cuttings do not go toward the elaborate propylon (monumental entranceway) of the structure north of the stoa as might seem more likely.
A spring emerged from the northwest end of the rock spur running down from the acropolis hill to the southeast of the site. This spring was the focus of cult activity from the 8th century BCE forward. The first activity on the site known after the Bronze Age is thus linked to cultic practice at this spring. Dedications were made by throwing objects into this sacred spring, which was located immediately northwest of the later temple platform.
Vravrona Signal Tower
The tower was within optical range of other similar towers used for signalling with smoke during the day and fire during the night. Messages could be relayed very quickly and it is said that a message could be transferred from the shores of Asia to the shores of Europe within an hour. The towers of Vravron as well as Liada were also used to signal the appearance of pirates to the residents of the region. Local lore suggests that the tower was of Venetian origin between 1394 and 1405, but archeological investigations show that it was probably built by the Burgundian Dukes De La Roche (1204–1311) at least one hundred years earlier.
The museum is about a 5 minute drive from the archaeological site. It was renovated in 2009 and the exhibits were rearranged. The site remains open daily from 8:30am to 3pm.