Associations in the Greco-Roman World (AGRW)

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

Building: Sarapis Sanctuary C (ca. 166-69 BCE) Delos - Southwestern islands

Delos (Southwestern islands, Aegean Islands — Pleiades map), ca. 166-69 BCE
Roussel 1916, 47-69 (pdf of archaeological report) = Kleibl 2009, 221-227 = Nielsen 2014, 64-65  = ID# 23982


Relevant inscriptions on this site: RICIS 101/0424 (inventory mentioning therapeutists and Sarapiasts); RICIS 202/0161, 0162, (therapeutists), 0165 , 0166, 0167 (contributors), 0191 (Sarapiasts), 0206, 0207 (therapeutists), 0257, 0260, 0269 (melanephorians), 0281 (therapeutists), 0282, 0322, 0351, 0352 (melanephorians and therapeutists).

Description: Located in the area designated the “Terrace of the Foreign Gods” on the lower part of mount Kynthos (see plan: 96), Sarapis sanctuary C (item 100 on the plan below) was the largest of the three sanctuaries for Egyptian deities on Delos (120 x 50 m = 6000 m2).  It was positioned just south of the sanctuary for the Syrian Pure goddess or Atargatis.  The area was excavated by Roussel in 1909-1910 (after being discovered in 1881).  Several inventories of valuable objects in a Sarapis sanctuary most likely pertain to this sanctuary, and these would confirm use of the sanctuary beginning at least by 166 BCE (see IDelos 1417 = RICIS 101/0424 on this site).  There were two main sections: (1) a square courtyard at the north end gave access to a variety of rooms and temples (with this section measuring 45 x 30 m); and, (2) an elongated structure (90 x 21-28 m) surrounded by porticos which was entered from the southeastern corner.  The northern section likely included four temples: one dedicated to Sarapis (U), another to Isis (I), another to Anubis along with Sarapis and Isis (L), and another whose dedicatee remains unknown (H).  There were several rooms at the west end of this section (Q, S, T), one of which may be the pastophorion (place for the shrine-bearers [pastophoroi]) mentioned in inscriptions connected with the sanctuary (cf. RICIS 202/0296-0297, dedicated in 112/111 BCE).  In the southern section, a long walkway (accessed from a courtyard at the north end) led up to the main temple towards the south end (C).  To the north, three other rooms (V, X, Y) could be accessed from the porticos.  The connection between this sanctuary and the civic community as a whole is suggested by the fact that, at least for the period from 137-109 BCE (though apparently not for the period 167-139 BCE), the main annual priesthood circulated between the twelve civic tribes (IDelos 2610; see Bricault 1996).  Inscriptions related to this sanctuary attest to numerous associations or boards of functionaries active in the sanctuary from the mid-second century on, including Sarapiasts, therapeutists, and melanephorians or “wearers of black” (on this site, see IDelos 1417 = RICIS 101/0424).

Translation by: Harland

Plan of the so-called Terrace of the Foreign Gods.Adapted from Bruneau and Ducat 1983 (plate 5, plan 4).

Plan of the so-called Terrace of the Foreign Gods.
Adapted from Bruneau and Ducat 1983 (plate 5, plan 4).


Plan of Sarapis Sanctuary C on Delos. Roussel 1915, plate 3. Public domain.

Plan of Sarapis Sanctuary C on Delos.
Roussel 1915, plate 3. Public domain.



Item added: April 14, 2016
Item modified: April 14, 2016
ID number: 23982
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