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Brauron, site of a sanctuary of Artemis on the east coast of Attica at the mouth of the river Erasinos. It is included in Philochorus' list of twelve townships united by Theseus (FGrH 328 F 94). Archaeological evidence indicates human presence in the area of the sanctuary and the acropolis above it from neolithic times onwards, and there is an important late Helladic cemetery nearby. In the sanctuary itself there is a continuous tradition from protogeometric on, with a temple built in the 6th cent. (Phot. Lexicon, entry under Βραυρώνια‎) and an architecturally innovative pi-shaped stoa with dining-rooms built in the later part of the 5th cent. Flooding in the early 3rd cent. bce led to the abandonment of the site. Some traditions associate the Pisistratids (see pisistratus; hippias(1); Hipparchus (1)) with Brauron (Phot., as above), or with the local residential centre called Philaidai which lay a short distance inland from the sanctuary (Pl. Hipparch. 228b).

Cult activity at Brauron was particularly associated with the arkteia, a ritual, known also at the sanctuary of Artemis Munichia (1) in the Piraeus, in which young girls between the ages of 5 and 10 ‘became’ bears. The aetiological myth for the arkteia related that this service was required of all Athenian girls before marriage because of an incident in which a bear belonging to the sanctuary had been killed after becoming savage with a young girl (schol. Ar. Lys.645). Modern scholars suggest that the ritual was a rite of passage which marked the physical maturation of pubescent girls and prepared them for taming by marriage by stressing their wildness. Some pottery vessels of a shape particularly used for dedications to Artemis (krateriskoi) excavated at Brauron show naked girls running and part of a bear, and scholars have suggested that these illustrate the ritual. The sanctuary included a cave sacred to Iphigenia, and dedications were also made in celebration of successful childbirth. The Brauronia was a quadrennial festival organized by hieropoioi appointed by the city by lot, and involved a procession from Athens out to Brauron. We also hear of a sacred hunt.


J. Travlos, Bildlexicon zur Topographie des antiken Attika (1988).Find this resource:

    R. Osborne, Demos (1985), 154–72.Find this resource:

      C. Sourvinou-Inwood, Studies in Girls' Transitions (1988).Find this resource:

        A. Antoniou, Brauron (1990. in Greek).Find this resource:

          Archäologischer Anzeiger in Jahrbuch des [kaiserlichen] deutschen archäologischen Instituts (JDAI) (1996), 7–23.Find this resource:

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