The sanctuary of ‘Ta Rykakia’ is located on a prominent hilltop midway between the Classical-Hellenistic citadels of ancient Geronthrai and Selinous, in eastern Laconia, Greece. The sanctuary has been identified by chance finds of terracotta figurines of women and animal figurines, which point to a Classical date. Extra-urban sanctuaries of the kind of Ta Rykakia figure large in theoretical discussions about the formation of sacred landscapes. Visible from afar, these sanctuaries could fulfill different functions. While some acted as ‘points of convergence’, where people from the surrounding countryside would come together in unison to worship the gods, others would evolve into territorial and symbolic boundaries between different communities.
The excavation of Ta Rykakia offers the possibility to assess the functions of an extra-urban sanctuary in a region that so far remains underexplored: the hinterland of Sparta, where the subordinate or perioikic poleis form a world with their own, still poorly understood, social, political and religious dynamics. The site of Ta Rykakia is imperilled by the expansion of a nearby stone quarry and the continuing collection of figurines by local residents. Systematic excavation is urgent and will be undertaken together with the Provincial Archaeological Service. This cooperation follows on 25 years of close cooperation at the Geraki Project (VU, formerly UvA-VU). The existing facilities and equipment available at the village of Geraki will be used in this new project.
The excavation will, in the course of two years, expose students to the full cycle of both excavation and of find/data processing and publication. The project also has a role to play in the engagement of professional archaeologists with the inhabitants of the local village, who are well aware of the presence of the sanctuary. Collaboration with our Greek colleagues opens the way for a dialogue between provincial officials, foreign researchers, local inhabitants and the operators of the quarry about the value of preserving rural and non-monumental sites. The project will provide accommodation and meals (excepts Saturday evening and Sunday).
Applications and requests for more information can be sent to email@example.com before 1 April 2020.