The Amyklaion, the Apollo sanctuary at Amyklai, was a sanctuary dedicated to the pre-Doric deity Hyakinthos since the late Mycenaean period. With the arrival of the Dorians (and the conquest of Amyklai by the Spartans), the sanctuary of Hyakinthos was turned into an Apollo sanctuary, with the myth of the death of Hyakinthos being devised by the hands of Apollo to give Apollo a clear role within the cult. Originally Hyakinthos (like the much more famous Adonis) may have been a god of vegetation, fertility and spring, whose death, “burial” and resurrection were celebrated in the festival of the “Hyakinthia,” the Hyakinthos games. Votive figures have been found from the late-, sub-Mycenaean and geometric periods, but with a distinct gap in between, indicating a possible break in the cult.


In the middle of the 7th century a large (13 m. high) bronze (or wooden with bronze fittings?) cult statue was dedicated to Apollo. The body, which, according to Pausanias resembled a bronze pillar, had feet, a head with helmet and arms with a lance and a bow. In the mid-6th century, gold leaf for Apollo’s face was given by king Croesus of Lydia. Around 500, the renowned Ionian sculptor-architect Bathykles was hired to give the sanctuary a more monumental character. Bathykles placed the statue on top of the tomb for Hyakinthos (with reliefs and a bronze door) and built a marble construction with chambers, niches, “karyatids” and columns with elaborate. It is possibly this construction that gave the impression from a distance that the deity had just risen from his chair, giving rise to the name “throne of Bathykles”. The foundations have been recovered and many fragments, some built into Byzantine churches in the area. Despite the detailed description by Pausanias, it has never been possible to make a convincing reconstruction: the foundations suggest a temple-like construction.


The remains in Amyklai are scanty: we see a monumental retaining wall and a platform, above which the statue, throne and tomb stood, while the foundations of the throne are also visible. The hill is crowned by a small chapel dedicated to St. Kyriaki. An inscription found on the spot ensures the identification of the site.

A detailed description of the research history can be found on the site where the photo at the top left of the hill also comes from.


click for text Pausanias

Sanctuary of Agamemnon

A shrine dedicated to Agamemnon and his mistress Kassandra (locally named Alexandra) has been found near the church for Aghia Paraskeví. A pit for discarded votive offerings from the sanctuary contained more than 10,000 objects, including many vases (also miniature), figurines and terracotta reliefs. Pausanias, who mentions this shrine, states that there was a tomb of Agamenon, where there was also a statue of his “lawful” wife Clytemnestra, while elsewhere he indicates that Kassandra was also buried in Amyklai. These tombs and the shrine itself are probably remnants of an old literary tradition (found among others at Pindar) that Agamemnon and Kassandra were not murdered in Mykene, but at Amyklai. In that case we see in the many reliefs Agamemnon and his “wife” Kassandra in the underworld (given the tubes). In that case, this is clearly a Heroic cult.

An alternative theory here sees the cult of the King of the Dead named Agamemnon, “He Who Knows Everyone” along with his wife Alexandra. With the spread of the Homeric epics, this Agamemnon was identified with the Agamemnon as the leader of the Greeks at the time of the Trojan War and Alexandra was identified with the Trojan seer Kassandra. Votive offerings in the Museum of Sparta show the Ruler of the Underworld alone or with his wife, seated on a throne and with a horse or snake as companion.