Associations in the Greco-Roman World (AGRW)

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

Building: Sanctuary of Sarapis and Isis (III BCE) Thessalonike - Macedonia

Thessalonike (Macedonia, Greece and Macedonia — Pleiades map), III BCE
A. Koukouvou, "The Sarapieion. The Sanctuary of the Egyptian Gods Rises from the City’s Ashes," in Archeology Behind Battle Lines in Thessaloniki of the Turbulent Years 1912-1922, P. Adam-Veleni and A. Koukouvou, eds. (Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, 19; Thessaloniki: Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, Culture and Sport, 2012) 104-111 (Greek and English) = E. Voutiras, "Sanctuaire privé – culte public?: Le cas du Sarapieion de Thessalonique," in Idia kai dèmosia: Les cadres "privés" et "publics" de la religion grecque antique, V. Dasen and M. Piérart, eds. (Kernos suppléments; Liège: Presses universitaires de Liège, 2005) 273-278 (link) = AGRW ID# 23797


Relevant inscriptions on this site: IG X,2.1 33 (businessmen), 58 (banqueting sacred object bearers), 259 (initiates of Zeus Dionysos Gongylos).

Description: Discovered in 1917 in the western part of modern Thessaloniki, the sanctuary of Sarapis was only partially excavated in 1920 (by Pelekidis) and in 1939 (by Charalambos), and a full report has never been published.  The structure dates to the third century BCE and, since the city itself was only founded in 315 BCE, the Sarapis sanctuary is among the earlier buildings.  From our limited knowledge of the sanctuary, it consisted of a small Hellenistic-era temple, porticos, altars, and a Roman period temple.  A crypt (filled with statues and inscriptions) with a tunnel was located under the Roman period temple.  Many statues and votive reliefs were found along with more that 70 Greek inscriptions.  Three of these inscriptions attest to groups or associations of various kinds, including businessmen, sacred object bearers, and initiates of Zeus Dionysos Gongylos.  The sanctuary apparently continued in use until the early third century CE.  It is now buried beneath modern buildings.

Translation by: Harland

Photo of the second excavation of the Sarapis sanctuary at Thessalonike (in 1939). Public domain.

Photo of the second excavation of the Sarapis sanctuary at Thessalonike (in 1939).
Public domain due to age of photograph (from Koukouvou 2012).

Item added: March 31, 2016
Item modified: August 23, 2018
ID number: 23797
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