The investigations by Wide, Kjellberg and Welter

The excavations of 1894

Lennart Kjellberg and Sam Wide inside the temple area in 1894. S. Kristenson.Lennart Kjellberg and Sam Wide inside the temple area in 1894. S. Kristenson.Swedish scholars carried out fieldwork in Greece for the first time in 1894. They were Samuel Wide and Lennart Kjellberg together with the architect Sven Kristenson. Wide had close connections with the German Archaeological Institute in Athens and it was through that institute that he acquired the permit to investigate the sanctuary to Poseidon on Kalaureia. Wilhelm Dörpfeld, the Director of the institute, visited the excavations twice and offered not only his experience and advice to his Swedish colleagues but also his foreman from the excavations at Olympia.

A report on the fieldwork appeared a year later in the Mitteilungen of the German Institute in Athens. It is a brief account of the investigated buildings and of some of the finds discovered, in particular in the eastern part of the temple area within the encircling wall, the so-called peribolos. Here votives were found for the god sacrificed to at the temple, whom we traditionally identify as Poseidon: fragments of large bronze cauldrons of the same type as those excavated in all large Greek sanctuaries, aryballoi or small vessels for fragrant oils, ours brought from Corinth; figurines of bronze and terracotta (horses, horse-and-riders, bulls); and a bronze trident, an apt votive in a sanctuary to the sea-god. The most spectacular find is a griffon’s head from a bronze cauldron, dated to the very end of the sixth century BC, which, together with the complete objects of bronze, are now in the bronze collection of the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. Wide and Kjellberg found a number of inscriptions, but several others were already known, having been published by the French traveler Le Bas in the eighteenth century.

 Statue base by Building F. B. Wells.Statue base by Building F. B. Wells.

We may ask ourselves why Wide and Kjellberg did not return to the site. One explanation may be the dearth of material as compared to what the excavations at Olympia and Delphi produced.

The investigations of Gabriel Welter
In the early 20th century the Poseidon Sanctuary was turned into a farmstead. A family from the island of Angistri settled there and by and by began to cultivate the soil, having in the first place come to Kalaureia to collect resin. In the 1930s the German scholar Gabriel Welter re-measured the ancient foundations which had not been overbuilt by the farmstead. As far as we have been able to understand Welter did not carry out any excavations but was mainly interested in architecture and above all the porticoes or stoas.