Penn Museum Brings Together International Research Team for Day-long Ancient Greek Symposium "At the Altar of Zeus: The Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project"

14 FEBRUARY 2007, PHILADELPHIA, PA—The origins of Greek cult and Greek athletics--long a subject of fascination for Greek scholars--may be found at the mountaintop sanctuary of Zeus on Mt. Lykaion in Arcadia, Greece. Famous in antiquity as the site of an open air ash altar to Zeus and athletic contests rivaling those at nearby Olympia, this sanctuary is undergoing new excavations and study, in an international project, the Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project, that is a joint collaboration between the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and the University of Arizona, under the auspices of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, with Greek collaborators, representatives of the Greek Archaeological Service.

On Saturday, 24 February 2007 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the team of archaeologists and scholars engaged in the Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project come together--a rare opportunity for this international, interdisciplinary team--to share their perspectives on the new season's discoveries, with each other and with the interested public. The Penn Museum program is sponsored by the Center for Ancient Studies, the Graduate Group in Ancient History, and the Graduate Group in Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World, all at the University of Pennsylvania. Admission to the program is $10; free for full-time students with ID. A reception follows.

Dr. David Gilman Romano, Senior Research Scientist at Penn Museum and Mt. Lykaion Project Director, is coordinating the program. An expert in the ancient Greek Olympics and Greek archaeology, this project, begun in 2004, is a natural outgrowth of his career-long interests.

"We have lots of questions we hope to be able to answer in the seasons ahead--and a compelling long-term goal, to create the first national park in Greece, in Western Arcadia, to protect and unify the ancient cities and sanctuaries of this wonderful mountainous area," Dr. Romano noted.

"We want to uncover the earliest evidence of cult activity at the altar of Zeus and in the nearby sacred area-was human sacrifice conducted at the altar, as several ancient authors tell us? Who came to the sanctuary, and where did they come from?"

Of special interest to Dr. Romano is an ancient hippodrome in the mountain meadow of the lower sanctuary of Mt. Lykaion, the only known hippodrome (where equestrian contests were held) in the entire Greek world that can be located and measured.

Speakers include:

Dr. Anastasia Panagiotopoulou, Greek Archaeological Service

Dr. Madeleine Jost, Professor of Greek History, University of Paris X, Nanterre

Dr. Costas Cassios, Professor of Physical Geography and Environmental Impact Assessment, National Technical University, Athens, Greece

Dr. Mary Voyatzis, Professor of Classical Studies, University of Arizona

Dr. George Davis, Provost, University of Arizona,
Mr. Fotis Zois, Member of the Syllogos of Ano Karyes, Arcadia, Greece

Mr. Mark Davison, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture, University of Oregon

Dr. David Gilman Romano, Senior Research Scientist, Penn Museum

The full list of speakers and topics--spanning history, geology, geography and survey, archaeology, Greek community involvement and more--can be found online:

The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, located at 3260 South Streets on the Penn campus in Philadelphia, is dedicated to the study and understanding of human history and diversity. Founded in 1887, the Museum has sent more than 400 archaeological and anthropological expeditions to all the inhabited continents of the world. With an active exhibition schedule and educational programming for children and adults, the Museum offers the public an opportunity to share in the ongoing discovery of humankind's collective heritage. For general information, visitors may call (215) 898-4000, or visit the Museum’s award-winning website at


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