DESCRIPTION
THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE
INFORMATION
 
 
Among the three most ancient temples which surrounded the holy oak of Zeus in the Dodoni sanctuary, one is sacred to Themis, wife of Zeus and daughter of Ouranos (heaven) and Gaia (earth). The other two are the Holy Residence and the temple of Dioni. The cult of Themis was widespread in the region of Epirus, presumably as continuation of the cult of the prehistoric Great Goddess; it is obvious to honour her in Dodoni, because it relates to the adoration of the Earth. The temple (Building ) was identified with the help of an inscription set in lead that was found in the gallery of the bouleuterion (council chamber), mentioning Zeus, and referring to Themis and Dioni as ?Naian gods?, i.e. cohabitants and worshipped together with Zeus. In consequence, both goddesses were in hierarchy the most important ?officers? of Zeus, following immediately after the god. The only element that can be used as evidence for the dating of the temple is the use of soft sandstone for the pilasters of the pronaos (anteroom); this material had been also used a) in the ancient temple of Dioni, b) in the Holy Residence in the time of Pyrrhus, the king of Epirus, and c) in the Doric portico of the bouleuterion. The most probable dating is attributed to the period of the Epirote League (340-232 BC).

Oriented from northwest to southeast, the temple was of a simple constructive conception, measuring 10.30 x 6.25m. It was prostyle (frontal colonnade) with four Ionic columns, a pronaos and the cella building. The remains in front of the temple belong to the foundations of a large altar (4.20 x 3.30m) and a square pedestal to the east, which presumably supported a votive offering of significance. The carvings show that the orthostates (upright stanchions) surrounded the altar on all four sides, and access could be granted only from the temple. The internal dimensions were 2.60 x 1.80m. On the southwest of the temple stands a small square edifice (Building ) not yet identified, so that we still ignore its function and the time of erection.
 
 
 
Mythological / Historic Persons