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 http://forschungsprojekt-amyklai.wikidot.com/ where the photo at the top left of the hill also comes from.