Spiritual continuity and architectural transformations at Larisa’s (Aeolis) sanctuary ‘on the rocks’

Figen Öztürk Akan*, Turgut Saner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The major sanctuary in the ancient city of Larisa (Aeolis) consists of structures built at different periods-an altar, a small oikos-temple, a stoa, and a propylon-all constructed on the highest spot of the acropolis on solid bedrock. The architectural remains of the sanctuary, dated between the 7th and 4th centuries BCE and are mostly preserved at the foundation level. During the 20th century excavations, “a rectangular building with a hearth inside” was found under the temple which is believed to date back to the Early Bronze Age. Another arrangement made of circular stone features with a baitylos and other large rocks is thought to have been part of cultic practices, presumably related to the Mother Goddess. The Archaic-Greek temple and its dependencies were built on the Bronze Age core articulation of the acropolis. The prehistoric cup-marks and the small finds are associated with the cult of Mother Goddess/Cybele to indicate the cult continuity. In numerous sanctuaries, which became widely known during the Archaic period in Western Anatolia, cult activities can be uninterruptedly traced back to the “pre-Greek” periods. Furthermore, most urban sanctuaries were deliberately chosen to be located at the highest rocky point of the settlement and dominate the surrounding areas. Besides the sacredness of the cult place, its visibility was likely to have been another essential consideration. Questioning the influence of these parameters in determining the location of the primary sanctuary in Larisa requires a comprehensive assessment in conjunction with the original context of the settlement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-167
Number of pages19
JournalA|Z ITU Journal of Faculty of Architecture
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024, Istanbul Teknik Universitesi, Faculty of Architecture. All rights reserved.


  • Bronze Age
  • Cult continuity
  • Larisa
  • Rock cult
  • Temple


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