Ending what has got to be one of the longest searches in archaeological history, the lost Greek temple of Artemis has finally been found. It only took 100 years. The temple remains were discovered close to Amaranthus, a coastal town 38.6 kilometers (24 miles) northeast of Athens on the island of Euboea.
Archaeologists have known of its existence for a while now thanks to the work of Strabo, an ancient Greek geographer, philosopher, and historian who lived around the turn of the first century. He shared the temple's exact location in his 10th book, telling readers that it was 7 stades (Ancient Greek for 1.5 kilometers or 1 mile) from the city of Eretria. But, as it transpired, like so many of us, Strabo was not so good at handing out directions.
His shoddy instructions have had archaeologists on a wild goose chase since the 19th century when the first team set out to find the lost temple. It was only when a Swiss archaeologist, Denis Knoepfler, discovered stones he believed originated from a Greek temple in a Byzantine church further away, that the current team began to look elsewhere.
Based on Knoepfler's calculations, reports the BBC, the group set up a dig at a site 60 stades (11 kilometers or 6.8 miles) from Eretria, at the foot of a hill called Paleokeliski (or Paleochora) to the East of Amarynthos.
A statement released by the Greek Ministry of Culture called the initial discoveries "encouraging". The archaeologists unearthed a gallery from the northern and eastern parts of the temple, which dates back to the fourth century BCE.
In 2017, incisions were made in the area enclosed by the galleries, revealing the sanctuary's core and confirming that it was indeed the lost temple of Artemis. The archaeologists found buildings from the sixth to second centuries BCE, an underground fountain, and, importantly, inscribed bases, sealed tiles, and coins containing the name "Artemis", referring to the ancient Greek goddess of the hunt, the Moon, chastity, and nature.
"These confirm that the site was the destination for the annual procession from Eretria by local worshippers of the goddess of the hunt," explained local website EviaZoom.