THE SANCTUARY OF ATHENA AT SOUNION
The top of a low hill about 400 m to the NE of the sanctuary of Poseidon is occupied by the sanctuary of Athena. A trapezoid enclosure of limestone (about 46.50X44 m) runs around the flattened top of the hill and defines the sanctuary with the temple of Athena, the small temple and the depositor. Right to the north, an older sacred precinct is located, the so called ?of Phrontis?. The temples of the sanctuary were deconstructed, as usually practiced in the roman period with the abandoned temples in the periphery, and transported to adorn the Athenian agora.
At the temple of Athena the cella was bordered by a colonnade only on the east and south sides. The marble columns were unfluted, with ionic capitals. In the back of the cella the foundation of the pedestal for the cult statue is preserved. The altar is placed south of the temple, apparently because the spacious plateau at the south was suitable for the worshipers to gather and for the offerings to be placed. The temple was built around the middle of the 5th cent. BC. According to another view, it predated the Persian wars and only the exterior colonnades were added.
The small temple (4.96X6.80 m) is located at the NE consisting of a cella with two columns in the front. In the back the base for the cult statue is of grey marble of Eleusis. Opposite the main side the altar is located. The temple was probably dedicated to the goddess Artemis. It dates to the archaic period (600-500 BC) and was destroyed by the Persians (480 BC). According to another opinion it is contemporaneous with or later than the big temple of Athena.
In the SE area of the sanctuary there is a wide trench 15 m deep accessible through 15 hewn steps. The initial use remains obscure. Later, probably after the Persian wars, the old offerings were deposited in it. They date from the 9th to the mid 5th cent. BC, when the trench was covered.
The precinct of "Phrontis"
At the NW part an almost circular wall of roughly hewn large stones defines a precinct older than this of Athena. In the precinct, apparently a sacred grove, a hero was worshipped, probably Phrontis, the helmsman in Menelaus? ship during the return from Troy to Sparta, who died and was buried at Sounion, (Odyssey, c 276-285).
The old precinct and the depositor with the oldest of the finds evidence a most ancient cult that had started in the area of the Athena sanctuary.