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Il santuario di Zeus Olympios ad Agrigento: al di là del tempio monumentale


The paper aims to reassess the entire architectural and archaeological evidence of the southern part of the sanctuary of Zeus Olympios. This includes the oikos near the SE corner of the big temple (with two building phases dated respectively to the mid-6th century and to the first half of the 5th century), and the area with a large pool and two halls located to the south. This is equipped with a complex drainage system connected with two big cisterns. All these structures can now be referred to as a coherent building program carried out from 480 to 450 B.C. The monumentality of the buildings and infrastructures reflects a grandeur of the rituals that has not been previously addressed. Until now, most scholars have focused only on the colossal Temple of Zeus, and the sanctuary was not perceived as a whole. On the contrary, it was a structured and organic ensemble that could fulfil the multiple needs of religious and festive occasions. At the same time, it engaged in dialogue with the other components of the ‘sacred acropolis’, from the ‘Herakles Temple’ to the sanctuaries to the west. As for the rites and cults practiced in this area, the findings related mainly to the last phase of usage of the sacellum suggest a female divinity, with a sphere of activities linked to female maturation. The large swimming pool and the adjoining open-air area were an integral part of these rituals. To the same group of structures belongs the next monumental hall; a stone structure facing the main entrance (a big kline or trapeza) suggests the performance of theoxenic rituals. It is an intriguing coincidence that Pindar describes how the Tyndaridae were honoured with a special emphasis by the same Teron, to whom the project of the Zeus Olympios sanctuary can be attributed.