Ancient_Phocis_map.png At 560 b.C. people of Thessaly attacked Fokida (Phocis). Their good cavalry was a problem for Fokaeis (citizens of Fokida). In the battle od Hydies the Fokaeis made an ambush for the calavry. Thessalians attacked again. The women and children of Fokida decided to fight them or die in the battle. They won at the battle of Gypsos. To remember that victory, they created an annual celebration to honor their protectress Goddess Artemis. This celebration was called Elaphebolia.

We don't know what happened in the ceremony. Maybe the offerings were horns of deers, pita with sesame and flower. Of course in ancient times animals were sacrified to the Goddess and then they were put in a special place. Those piles of bones and ashes have been found today. The temples have been found but the archaeologists decided to put soil and bury two of the main temples. Yes, this phenomenum is very common in Hellas. You can judge them. Some ritual tools have been saved and they are in the local museums. In the main altar the ritual tools were found intact. Dancing matches, poetic, sports etc were typical customs to honor the Goddess. Moreover, some bank agreements have been found, because the ancient priests had this duty too, to lend money.

The temples of Artemis and Apollo had been destroyed by Persians in 480 b.C. earthquakes in 426 b.C. Each time the Fokaeis rebuilted the temples or they buil some greater temples near to the old altars. King Philip decided to reduce the power of their priests in Delphi, because Fokaeis fought against hum in the side of the Atheneans. This made them to give more emphasis in Elaphebolia. The celebration was pan-hellenic. Isis, Sarapis and Anubis were worshipped by the priests of Artemis outside the temples during the hellenistic era. In the time of the roman empire, generals and caesars came to the celebration or they sent honorary gifts. Goths of Alarichos attacked the temples and after some years king Theodosios of Byzantium, who was Jew by the way ordered to ruin every temple from Boetia to Athens.

________1.jpg Until today the whole area, which is a historical and archaeological treasure, has not been yet investigated by scientists. Some of the ancient findings are in public buildings hidden and locked. No restoration proccesses have been started. Citizens have made some actions to donate a big amount of land to the german archaeological institute, to make a research and excavations. More info could be found in the hellenic book: Τα Μεγάλα Ελαφήβόλια, Αναστάσιος Δαλιάνης, Εκδόσεις Αρσενίδη, Αθήναι 2000

If you know german, you will find this link pretty useful. The German archaeologists have done an excavation and they have presented their findings in videos too.

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