Temple of Artemis, Brauron, Attica, Greece.

Temple of Artemis, Brauron, Attica, Greece.

The temple of Artemis at Vravrona is a Doric temple built in the first half of 5th century BC at the site of an older temple (6th c. BC) destroyed by the Persians and it was the centre of worship at the sanctuary.

Temple of Artemis, Brauron, Attica, Greece. 1
Temple of Artemis, Brauron, Attica, Greece. 4

The cult statue of the goddess stood in the cella of the temple and a festival every four years the Brauronia was held in honour of the goddess. The possession of worshippers started from the sanctuary of Artemis Brauronia on the Acropolis of Athens and arrived at the sanctuary of Brauron.

During the ritual of arkteia, girls from renowned families of Athens stayed in the sanctuary in order to be prepared for marriage and motherhood.

In a lot of cultures, girls underwent a kind of ritual to become a woman. In Greek culture, this was not any different. Young girls only became women after they had attended the ritual at the Arkteia festival in Brauron.

Temple of Artemis, Brauron, Attica, Greece. 2
Temple of Artemis, Brauron, Attica, Greece.

The Arkteia festival marked an important step in the lifetime of a Attic girl’s life. She had to go to the sanctuary at Brauron and celebrate the festival before she could get married.

The ritual was probably meant to please Artemis and to call on her for help during the lifetime of a married woman.

The literary sources and the krateriskoi give us some contemporary insights into the ritual. Even though I do think the main function of the Arkteia festival was an initiation rite for young girls, it was also part of the religion of the Greek city-state, which had the family at its base. Because of this, festivals that took care of the family were very important.