About the Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project

Answering questions about the origins of Greek cult and Greek athletics are at the heart of the agenda of the Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project. Since 2004 the project has been working at the site of the Sanctuary of Zeus and between 2006-2010 excavation was undertaken at the site, both at the altar and temenos at the southern peak of the mountain, and in the lower sanctuary, the site of the famous athletic festival. Following 5 years of Study, 2011-2015, excavations have resumed between 2016-2020 in both the upper and lower sanctuaries. The project, sponsored by the University of Arizona and the Greek Archaeological Service under the auspices of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens and the Ministry of Culture and Sports of Greece, has finished thirteen very productive years in the field. Now, in the second five year excavation program new excavations are revealing further details about the altar, the temenos and the lower meadow, the site of the Lykaion Games and the only visible hippodrome in the ancient Greek world.

Earlier excavations from the late 19th and early 20th centuries under the auspices of the Archaeological Society of Athens provided the first evidence of dedications from the mountain-top shrine. The ash altar was the area used to burn the dedications of animals and several ancient authors including Plato, Theophrastus and Pausanias mention human sacrifice at the site. How did these dedications begin and where did the cult of Zeus come from? How early were athletic contests (well known from the Classical period) associated with the cult? How does the Sanctuary of Zeus at Mt. Lykaion and its athletic program relate to the nearby cult of Zeus at Olympia?

For a detailed overview of the Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project, read:
Excavating at the Birthplace of Zeus.