Report on the guided tour of the Skopelos Asklepion by the Archaeologist Roula Doulgeri-Intzesiloglou.
It is a mystery how people learned about this talk. The announcement that I published was from a Volos newspaper. Other local announcements? None that I found. Most of the 15 attendees were non-Greek speakers so a Greek to English translator was engaged on the spot to help out. In the end, it was necessary for the archaeologist to speak in Greek and English with some aid from other attendees.
The information presented was fascinating as Kyria Roula spoke not only of the ancient history of the Asklepion, but also of its modern history as an archaeological site.
A brief disorganized rundown must include:
The modern official discovery of the site was in 1960 when the sea uncovered a corner of the ancient site. The land was appropriated by the Ministry of Culture and the former landowner used the money to buy the adjoining land and erect Hotel Aeolis.
The site was at least twice as large as what we see now. Much of the site is now either paved over by the shore road and hotel parking, or washed away by the sea.
During excavations coins from different city/island states were found thereby signifying that people traveled distances to seek healing at this Asklepion. Coins from Athens and the island of Thasos were mentioned. Travelers arriving by boat (everyone?) went immediately to the Asklepion to be checked for communicable diseases (plague, leprosy) before they could mingle with the island public.
No temple has yet been discovered at the site though Kyria Roula thinks that there may have been one in the northeastern corner (now under the sea/beach).
A small altar was uncovered in the inner courtyard of the Stoa. It was surrounded by standing amphorae meant for libations of wine or honey. The amphorae (2 types) were typical of Skopelos at the time. These styles of amphorae have been found among shipwrecks in the Black Sea and in wrecks closer to Skopelos. We know from ancient writing, coins, and these special amphorae that “Peparethos” was prosperous because of its wine; exporting to cities in the Black Sea, the Aegean, Athens and Alexandria in Egypt.
Among the structural elements which make up the floor plan, numerous carved stone “votive offerings” were found at the site and are now in the small museum near the entrance.
One reason for the placement of the local Askepion was that it was away from the town in the peaceful countryside near the sea and there was a fresh water source nearby or inside the site.
In Christian times the church Panagia Livadiotissa (link) was built a mere 100 meters up the hill from the Asklepion site. The church was (is) known as a significant place to make votive offerings asking divine assistance in matters of health. There is/was a water source there and the church hosts the important “Pigi Zois” (ΠΗΓΗ ΖΩΗΣ -Source of Life) liturgy each year on the first Friday after Easter and the Defeat of Iconoclasm on the first Sunday of Lent.