Excavation at the Acropolis of Ancient Molykreio of Aetolia | 2019

The conclusion of the systematic excavation work at the sanctuary of Athena and Poseidon at the acropolis of Ancient Molykreio in Aetolia that took place in 2019, marks the completion of a 14-year cycle of research, which revealed significant antiquities and monuments. The excavations at the location of Elliniko near Velvina in Nafpaktia have brought to light significant remains of buildings and portable findings, which are of great interest both in terms of the history of the sanctuary as well as the civilisation of ancient Aetolia and assist in identifying the area to be that of ancient Molykreio, known from references of ancient writers as a place of worship of Poseidon.

In 2019, the excavation, conducted with the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation's support, focused on the interior of great temple B, where the foundations of an earlier archaic temple made of large, rectangle, tufaceous stones were revealed. Furthermore, research in the great altar resulted in pottery shells, figurines and coins. In conjunction with the findings from earlier excavations, such as vessels, coins of different minting and origins that were found next to the pedestal of the cult statue in temple A, as well as iron weapons, the conclusion is reached that the duration of activity of the sanctuary lasted from the 7th century BC up to the late Hellenistic Period, which seems to have been when it was at its zenith.

Overall, the monuments revealed during the systematic excavation are temples A and B, the altar, the arcade, buildings C and D and the stadium. The great altar excavated in front of temple A is one of the largest of its kind that have been discovered in Greece and one of the most impressive monuments of the sanctuary, as it stands on a hill with a view over the Isthmus of Corinth, where the respective Poseidon sanctuary is located. On the east side of the sanctuary, the only stadium in western mainland Greece was discovered, apart from that of Olympia, with three rows of stone seats and a length of 32 metres. The discovery of the stadium is a testimony to the significance, scope and reach of the sanctuary, where sporting events were organised, probably in honour of Poseidon. It appears that building C, which was discovered between the two temples, was related to the operation of the sanctuary, while it was also used by the athletes as a changing room and preparation area for the games, while building D close to the great temple was probably a meeting and/or banquet area for the priesthood and the game organisers.

Studies are being planned for the maintenance and restoration of the monuments, so that it can become accessible to visitors, as well as the work required in order to mark the importance of the site is also being planned. Moreover, the portable findings are to be studied in order to reach conclusions regarding the worship practices that took place in the sanctuary.


  • 19 people participated in the 2019 excavation, 10 of whom are postgraduate and undergraduate archaeology students at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

“The excavation could not have taken place for the last three years if it wasn’t for the support provided by the Latsis Foundation to the Archaeological Society at Athens, which is performing the administrative part and management of the research. This support enabled us to complete the excavation research, at least the first stage of it, to capture aerial photographs, to organise and clean up the area and deliver it to the competent Ephorate of Antiquities of Aetolia-Acarnania along with a recommendation for restorations and maintenance of monuments, in order to mark the significance of the sanctuary and make it accessible to visitors.”

Nikolaos Kaltsas

Honorary Director of the National Archaeological Museum

Director of the excavation at Ancient Molykreio


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