History | October 2, 2017 5:00 am

After Century-Long Search, Archaeologists Finally Find Long-Lost Greek Temple

Turns out the excavation teams were following bad directions more than 2,000 years old.

It’s almost like a scene out of Raiders of the Lost Ark. After searching for 100 years, archaeologists looking for a missing Greek temple finally hit pay dirt after realizing their futility was the result of more than 2,000-year-old faulty directions, the BBC reports.

Greek and Swiss excavation teams began digging at the Eretria site on the Greek island of Euboea in the 1960s, in search of legendary temple to the Goddess Artemis. According to legend, geographer Strabo, who died early in the 1st century B.C.E., had said the “open-air sanctuary” was about a mile away from Eretria. However, just a few years ago, Swiss archaeologist Denis Knoepfler found stones that were characteristic of those used in Greek buildings at a different, nearby location. This led him to believe that the temple site was actually 11 miles from Eretria.

So the team moved to the new location. In 2012, the team found a gallery that could have formed part of the temple, and started working quickly to unearth it. They were right, and the Greek Culture Ministry reports that the team finally “cut through the gallery walls this summer to reveal the core of the sanctuary of Amarysia Artemis,” according to the BBC. 

Since then, the team has found buildings that range from the 6th to 2nd centuries B.C.E. There is also an underground fountain. But most importantly, the archaeologists found inscriptions and coins bearing the name Artemis. These prove the site was “the destination for the annual procession from Eretria by local worshippers of the goddess of the hunt,” a local website EviaZoom says, according to BBC.