The Sanctuary's Imperial Architectural Development, Conflict with Christianity, and Final Days

The Sanctuary's Imperial Architectural Development, Conflict with Christianity, and Final Days

The Sanctuary's Imperial Architectural Development, Conflict with Christianity, and Final Days

The Sanctuary's Imperial Architectural Development, Conflict with Christianity, and Final Days


This is the climactic volume on the archaeological and architectural history from ca. 31 B.C. to A.D. 365 of the extramural sanctuary of Demeter and Persephone at Cyrene, Libya. It deals with the impact of Christianity on the cult and the causes of its decline, with particular emphasis on the largest body of evidence recorded anywhere for iconoclastic damage, presumably by Christian populations, to sculpted images of worshippers and twin goddesses. The volume traces the characteristics of major Demeter sanctuaries elsewhere (e.g., Eleusis, Corinth, Pergamon, Acragas, and Selinus) and places Cyrene's sanctuary within the context of this development.

The volume also presents the sanctuary's important lapidary and lead inscriptions as analyzed by Joyce Reyonlds. It is the eighth volume in the final reports series for the excavations conducted for the University of Michigan, and subsequently the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, between 1969 and 1981.

University Museum Monograph, 134


I first encountered Richard Goodchild 44 years ago on the beach of Marsa Susa where he laid out his conditions for licensing the University of Michigan to excavate Cyrene’s port city of Apollonia. This led to 17 years of fruitful collaboration between the University of Michigan’s Kelsey Museum of Ancient and Mediaeval Archaeology (succeeded in 1973 by the University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology) and the Libyan Department of Antiquities until the Libyan authorities terminated the activities of the American mission in 1981. An interval of 23 years ensued before Susan Kane and I were invited to return to Tripoli in the summer of 2004. During our visit, Dr. Ali Khadouri, then president of the Libyan Department of Antiquities, issued us a license to return in 2005 to begin the remedial investigation of the sanctuary’s physical site and storerooms, and to initiate an expanded survey of the extramural grounds which lie to the immediate south, east, and west of the core sanctuary.

Under the fresh name of the Cyrenaican Archaeological Project, or cap, the project was to be jointly sponsored by Oberlin College and the University of Pennsylvania Museum and directed by Susan Kane, with me as interim associate director. This ushered in a brief Prague spring in which funds were quickly raised in the United States to enable the Department of Antiquities to take up the much needed repairs of the large retaining wall separating the Middle from the Lower Sanctuary. It also allowed Kane to organize a joint LibyanBritish survey team, the latter from the University of Birmingham led by Vincent Gaffney and Gareth Sears, in order to initiate in June 2006 survey work on CAP’s expanded concession. Since that time, however, the political momentum has unfortunately once again swung away from improved relations between Tripoli and Washington, which has had the effect of once again postponing resumption of work on the physical site and storage facilities. At this time, it remains uncertain when this will occur.

The changes which occurred in the course of so many years of enforced absence can be measured in different ways. When the actual digging ended in 1979, computers, digital imaging, laser survey instru-

2. What he stipulated was that the University of Michigan had to agree to publish what its previous excavators had brought to light at Apollonia prior to 1965, as well as our own activities which, as chance would have it, were abruptly terminated by the “1967 Seven Day War.” For more on this, see Goodchild et al. 1977. in return for our accepting these terms, he promised to license Michigan to excavate its choice of sites outside of the line of the city walls at Cyrene. This eventually enabled me to acquire the Department of Antiquities’ permission to take on the Wadi Bel Gadir sanctuary in 1969, a year after Goodchild’s premature death prevented his joining forces with our expedition. Why I had to wait to meet him on Apollonia’s beach in order to learn of his conditions is another story.

3. Kane and White 2007, 45–46.

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