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Apollonia/Agia Pelagia. c. 500 BC

These two bronze cauldrons were found in an excavation in the Agia Pelagia area, in a rectangular pit roughly cut into the soft rock. The pit was covered with a stone slab that fitted onto a surrounding ledge. The slab had two circular holes which matched the centres of the cauldrons underneath and were sealed by stone lids. The lids were removed and replaced with straps, allowing valuable objects such as votive offerings, coins and official documents inscribed on bronze plaques to be stored securely in the cauldrons. This was a practice followed by temple or city treasuries and known from other instances in the Greek world. They are referred to in ancient sources as “locked treasuries”. In this case, the valuables were the property of a nearby temple of the Apollo, the god of the city, as evidenced by the dedicatory inscription on the inside of one cauldron, under the rim: “Thalios dedicated (this cauldron) to Apollo”. The inscription is written in an alphabet resembling the Aeginetan alphabet of West Crete. Although short, the inscription allows us to link the cauldrons with a temple of Apollo of which no traces have been found, and to identify the settlement excavated at Agia Pelagia as the city of “Apollonia near Knossos”, known from inscriptions, coins and historical sources.
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