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Sanctuary of Athena Lindia, Rhodes

This sanctuary of Athens Lindia is on the island of Rhodes at the most South-Westerly point of the Aegean (see map). This was orginally excavated by 2 Danish men called Karl Frederik Kinch and Christian Blinkenberg in the early 20th century and they published 6 volumes on the sanctuary containing details about everything found there, which is extremely helpful for knowing all about the sanctuary. However, these were written in Danish and then German, neither of which is helpful to a native English speaker so I have had to rely on secondary sources to help me through.

One amazing piece of evidence for telling us about what was in the sanctuary and what was offered there is the Lindian Chronicle, written in the 1st century BC by Timachidas. This tells us about dedications made at the sanctuary before 1st century B.C as well as offerings at the time.

Archaeological Development

The site dates back to the 10th century BC with the establishment of the...Some scholars have assumed that because of the non-Greek origin of the word 'Lindia' meaning ' ' that the sanctuary existed before even the Greek-speaking Mycenaeans but there is no substantial evidence for this.
The Mycenaeans supposedly took over the sanctuary from the pre-Greeks and ran it until which time as the Greeks took over it.

The early temple and its content within the sanctuary was burned down by the fire of 350 B.C but it was rebuilt and clearly still heavily dedicated to after it was rebuilt.

What we can see now is largely reconstructions made by the Italians in the early 20th century after the increase in interest for antiquities.


It is thought that the site orignally started as a pre-Greek cult to an older Goddess, Lindia. However, during and after the time of the Mycenaeans, as was a regular occurance in Antiquity, the Greeks transformed the sanctuary into one of Athena Lindia, keeping the older name, but with the new more widely recognised Olympian goddess of Athena.

Through dedications we know that offerings were made to other epithets of Athena, mainly in Athena Polias. However, with Athena Polias, the dedications often state the name Zeus Polias as well alluding to the father-daughter relationship.

Ritual Activity

According to Blinkenberg who first excavated the site, the cult of Athena Lindia may not have made blood sacrifices at all, instead offering other things to the God napart from animals. I think Blinkenberg was so set of the idea of it being a no sacrificial cult that he failed to recognise the archaelogical evidence that was in front of him of there being an altar, which was later discovered by other architects.

Another thing disproving Blinkenberg's theory was that they later found remains of animal bones just outside the sanctuary which indicate that there was some kind of animal sacrifice within the cult. Also, when excavating, they found small votive animal figures at the sanctuary which again point to animal sacrifice.

Blinkenberg heard these claims and tried to salvage his view by saying the bones were from the feast but with all the evidence, it would be highly unlikely for no animal sacrifice to have occurred, as even for a feast it is probable that the animal would have been killed in a ritual.

From what we can see by the Lindian chronicle, people dedicated all kinds of jewellery and precious metals or anything pertaining to their craft e.g. an Oarsman would dedicated his oars.

According to Herodotus: 'dedications there could not fail to promote good will amongst the Greek states which were of military and economic importance to Egypt.'

As the Island of Rhodes had a strong positional link with regard to the East and Attica we have evidence of many dedications made even by Pharaoh Amasis of Egypt.[1]

With regard to what was dedicated at these sanctuaries, with it being a port useful for campaigns of the Greeks or indeed of those from the East, we know that there were many military dedications made.

For instance in 211 B.C Phillip V dedicated every tenth captured shield, helmet and sarissa. Also, 3 centuries earlier Kleobules dedicated 8 shield and a decorated gold diadem of high value. Even Alexander the Great was supposed to have dedicated there after the battle of Gaugamela in 331 B.C as a good omen for war.

The cult of Athena Lindia are thought to have had their own 'fireless' ritual rites on account of the story behind Athena's birth [1] but other than than there doesn't seem to be any clear festivals.

Relating to the myth of the sanctuary; Herakles himself supposedly dedicated 2 shields and the helmet of Alexandros was dedicated by Menelaus. Although this certainly faked to increase the fame and prestige of the sanctuary.

Here is a link to a clickable plan of the site if you want up close pictures:

Rules and Regulations

As stated earlier; only bloodless sacrifices were allowed in the sanctuary with the exception of feasts where it is clear that animals were burned due to the discovery of bones.

We know that the Cult of Athena Lindia also had regualtions on birth in the 3rd century B.C as:

"They must not bear arms and they must wear clothing, without headgear, being unshod or non-goatskin sandals, not wearing anything of goatskin, and with no knots in girdles 40 days from the miscarriage of a woman, dof or ass; 41 days from defloration; 41 days from bereavement; 7 days from washing the corpse, 3 days from entering the house, 3 days from contact with childbirth, 11 days from giving birth, from a prostitute 30 days. One is never pure form illegal acts."

This quite detailed description of when you could and couldn't visit the sanctuary points to the idea of miasma and pollution in Greek Religion which was clearly omnipresent in this sanctuary.

Other Activities

Historical Significance

Before the battle of marathon, all of the inhaitants of the island of Rhodes gathered at Lindia while under siege from Darius I, King of Persia so it was clearly seen as a place of refuge, much like the Acropolis in Athens.

Who used the site, and where did they come from? 

Maria Mili suggests that the sanctuary of Athena Lindia had a ‘Panrhodian’ function, as a place of refuge for the island of Rhodes, especially during the Persian invasions as the island was an easy stopping point on the way to Attica.

As previously in the dedications section.

Select Site Bibliography

The Lindian Chronicle and the Greek creation of their past. Carolyn Higbie (2013)


1. Pindar Olympian VII, 3546

2. Herodotus. 2. 180-2

1- To enter footnotes, put [1] in your text above, and place the footnote down here.
2- If you press "shift + enter" it will insert a line break without any paragraph spacing.


Location of Rhodes

Click Here For Map.

Site Plan

Site Plan of Athena Lindia

Reconstruction of the sanctuary of Athena LindiaSite Plan of Athena Lindia