/ Modified jun 22, 2017 4:22 p.m.

Episode 63: Archaeological Finds at the Altar of Zeus on Mt Lykaion, Arcadia

A UA team investing the altar of Zeus.

Arizona Science spot Arizona Science, Fridays on NPR 89.1


Since 2004, Dr. David Gilman Romano has been the co-director, with Dr. Mary Voyatzis, of an interdisciplinary UA team excavating the mythological birthplace of Zeus in Acadia, Greece. The sanctuary of Zeus at Mt. Lykaion is perched on a mountain-top with the altar at the peak and with an ancient stadium and hippodrome nearby where ancient athletic contests were held. The excavators have discovered evidence of human activity there going back to 4,000 years BC. The altar is covered by layers and layers of ash from the burned bones of animals dedicated to Zeus. Recently, in the ash in the middle of the altar, the excavators made an amazing discovery of a full human skeleton burial, apparently that of an adolescent male, in a supine position oriented east-west and surrounded by field stones to the north and south. The excavators have preliminarily proposed an 11th century BC date for the burial based on pottery evidence found near the skeleton but will conduct Carbon 14 testing of the skeleton to determine the true date. An open question is whether scientific study of this skeleton will reveal evidence for human sacrifice which is known from ancient literature to be associated with Mt. Lykaion.


David Gilman Romano, Ph. D., Nicholas and Athena Karabots Professor of Greek Archaeology in the UA's School of Anthropology and Co-Director of UA's Mt Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project in Arcadia, Greece
Leslie Tolbert, Ph.D., Ph.D., Regents' Professor in the UA's Department of Neuroscience

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