Associations in the Greco-Roman World (AGRW)

An expanding collection of inscriptions, papyri, and other sources in translation (run by Philip A. Harland)

Building: Hall of the Initiates (200-250 CE) Melos - Southwestern islands


Melos (Southwestern islands, Aegean Islands — Pleiades map),
R.C. Bosanquet, "Excavations of the British School at Melos. The Hall of the Mystae," JHS 18 (1898) 60–80 (pdf of archeological report)  = ID# 23385


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Related inscriptions on this site: IG XII,3 1098, 1125, 1126.

Description: The so-called “Hall of the Mystae” or “Hall of the Initiates” was located on the western slope of Melos and excavated in 1896 by the British School at Athens.  The building was titled such since one of the statues was accompanied by an inscription mentioning that a group of “initiates” was led by a “hierophant” of the mysteries (see IG XII,3 1125) and a second inscription refers to those who gather around the altar (IG XII,3 1126).  The connection with Dionysos specifically is suggested by a base dedicated to Dionysos Trieterikos that was found to the east within what was likely related buildings.  The hall itself ran from east to west and measured 8.32 x 23 m with a mosaic pavement (measuring 5.35 x 22.22 m) surrounded by seven unfluted marble columns on each side.  The mosaic depicts vines, birds, a gazelle and a hare in one section, fish and fishmermen in another, and geometric shapes for decoration (see drawings below).  The excavators thought that the main entrance to the building was at the west end.  The eastern doorway led from the main hall into what was, in the view of the excavators, likely a shrine-like extension (adyton) opening into a place for rites and initiations (telestērion).  They compare this to the inner sanctuary of the Baccheion of the Iobacchoi at Athens.  The main walls of the hall were plastered.

Translation by: Harland



Drawing of the Hall of the Initiates facing west. Bosanquet 1898, 62. Public domain.

Drawing of the Hall of the Initiates facing west.
Bosanquet 1898, 62. Public domain.

Drawing of mosaic section from above. Bonsanquet 1898, 67 (figure 4). Public domain.

Drawing of mosaic section from above.
Bonsanquet 1898, 67 (figure 4). Public domain.

 

Drawing of the fish mosaic from the floor of the Hall of the Initiates at Melos.From Bonsanquet 1898, plate 2. Public domain.

Architectural features: Fish mosaic from the floor.
From Bonsanquet 1898, plate 2. Public domain.

Architectural features: Detail of the mosaic. Bonsanquet 1989, plate 3. Public domain.

Architectural features: Detail of the mosaic.
Bonsanquet 1989, plate 3. Public domain.

Architectural features: Tyche and Ploutos depicted on a column of the Hall.Bosanquet 1898, 60 (figure 1). Public domain.

Architectural features: Tyche and Ploutos depicted on a column of the Hall.
Bosanquet 1898, 60 (figure 1). Public domain.

Statue of a hierophant from the Hall of Initiates. Bosanquet 1898, 74. Public domain.

Statue of a hierophant from the Hall of Initiates.
Bosanquet 1898, 74. Public domain.

Drawing of the bust from the Hall of Initiates. Bosanquet 1898, 77. Public domain.

Drawing of the bust from the Hall of Initiates.
Bosanquet 1898, 77. Public domain.

Item added: February 29, 2016
Item modified: October 12, 2018
ID number: 23385
Short link address:
http://www.philipharland.com/greco-roman-associations/?p=23385

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