Top: Altar of Zeus at Mt. Lykaion. Left to right: Dan Diffendale, University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Arthur Rhon, Wichita State University, and Arvey Basa, University of Arizona. Bottom Left: Crystal lentoid seal of a bull, Late Minoan I or II, ca. 1400 B.C. Diameter 3 cm. Bottom Right: Reverse of Arcadian League silver stater, Zeus Lykaios seated on a throne with an eagle in his left hand. 5th century B.C. Diameter 2 cm. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Pennsylvania Museum)
ScienceDaily (Jan. 23, 2008) — The Greek traveler, Pausanias, living in the second century, CE, would probably recognize the spectacular site of the Sanctuary of Zeus at Mt. Lykaion, and particularly the altar of Zeus. At 4,500 feet above sea level, atop the altar provides a breathtaking, panoramic vista of Arcadia.“On the highest point of the mountain is a mound of earth, forming an altar of Zeus Lykaios, and from it most of the Peloponnesos can be seen,” wrote Pausanias, in his famous, well-respected multi-volume Description of Greece. “Before the altar on the east stand two pillars, on which there were of old gilded eagles. On this altar they sacrifice in secret to Lykaion Zeus. I was reluctant to pry into the details of the sacrifice; let them be as they are and were from the beginning.”
What would surprise Pausanias—as it is surprising archaeologists—is how early that “beginning” actually may be. New pottery evidence from excavations by the Greek-American, interdisciplinary team of the Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project indicates that the ash altar—a cone of earth located atop the southern peak of Mt Lykaion where dedications were made in antiquity— was in use as early as 5,000 years ago—at least 1,000 years before the early Greeks began to worship the god Zeus.Read the rest on Science Daily.