Day 13 April 27, 2013 Saturday Nafplion
We left the hotel at 08:30 hoping that we can get an early start to beat the tour groups. Today there is a cruise ship in the harbor of Naflion. When we arrived at the pine covered little hill top , we saw that it was a good idea to start when we did. Other than one small group of students we had the whole site to our selves. Obviously Fred and Ze were quite happy with what they saw at this ancient health center. Aesculapius who was the son of Apollo was actually a child of a mortal woman. But when, while she was pregnant for Apollo's son started betraying a the God, Apollo killed the wife and her lover and took his son from the womb of the women. Aesculapius then was given the divine power of curing the ill people.
The hospital complex was complete with a stadium, a theater and temple.
The tiny museum of Epidaurus had mostly the copies of the statues that were found at the site. The most amazing find was the inscription for the Temple of Asclepius which was carved around 570 BC, the text mentioned the name of the architect. Theodosius and the sculptors, Timetheos and Hektoridas who were responsible for all the sculptoral decoration. It also mentioned the parts of the building which do not exist today; the roof, the metal balustrades, the treasury, as well as the materials used such as wood, silver, ivory, and gold. Work was done either by contractors or by commissions from specialized artists. From the inscription, the sequence by which the temple was built can be understood. they started from outside to the inside and then upwards in stages. The building information Tholos, Thymele, gives a similar picture for the construction of this magnificent circular structure which started from the exterior, from the Doric colonnade and progresses towards the interior, to the cella wall and the Corinthian colonnade. The aim of the inscription was do advertise the building project through a selective citing of details of its construction. The information about who were paid for how much was also indicated.
The inscriptions of cures left no doubt for the historians to know exactly what was happening at this health center. Huge number of people converged upon the sanctuary from all corners of the ancient world to be healed by God who appeared to the patient in his sleep and cured him. Besides the miracles of God, real medicine and surgery was practiced at the hospital of Epidauros. On four stelea found at site talks about records of more than 70 patients cured here. The records include they type of illness, the therapy used. the patients were obligated to pay to the gods. If the patient did not settle the "bill" properly, the Gods punished the patient.
The Tour busses were lining up as we were leaving the site. On the narrow winding roads we started heading back towards the sea. The air was full with the smell of the orange trees. We passed by the 1200 BC Mycenaean bridge and stopped at a nice rest stop where most of us had the chance to have the fresh orange juice.
The shop next to the cafe had the best samples of the ancient pottery and statues. Among the wonderful gifts, I noticed the evil eye in the form of a fish. fish being the symbol of Jesus, I found this form quite interesting.
The entrance to the burial was colossal. Built 3500 years ago, this tomb reveals the engineering ability of the Mycenaean masons. The stones were cycloptic.
The mantle over the gate was a 5 ton one piece stone. To relieve the weight of the mantle ,the top of the gate was lined with stones in a triangular manner. The Bee hive like interior was lined with carefully sculptured stones which gave a smooth rise to the top. The whole thing, after the burial ceremony was covered with dirt and looked like a tumulus.
The Acropolis of Mycenae started with a ramp meandering up to the main gate which was crowned with two lions facing each other. On the other side of the gate was the Royal cemetery. It was used exclusively for royal burials during the 16th Century BC. It contained six shaft graves. the graves were furnished and stored the best examples of Mycenaean pottery . Around 1250 BC, the city walls were extended and the royal burial ground was included within the acropolis.
The Acropolis had a command over a wide area extended from the sea now 6 miles away from the ancient city to the mountains which lie 30 miles to the West.