Excavations of the ancient acropolis on the Cycladic island of Kythnos have uncovered over 2000 intact votive figurines were kept by believers in the sanctuary of Demeter and Persephone for seven centuries. Hundreds of clay figurines of women, children, actors, Dionysian characters, pigs, turtles, lions, rams, birds and many other animals have been discovered, as well as hundreds of lamps, miniature vases, marble and alabaster vessels, copper and silver bones and glass. Jewelry.
One of the oldest settlements in the Cyclades, the ancient city of Kythnos has been continuously inhabited since the 12th century BC. to 7th century AD The sanctuary complex was built in the northern part of the plateau overlooking the ocean. It was built in stages, with the earliest building dating from the 7th century BC. The temple complex was actively used until the 4th century AD.
Recent excavations have focused on three buildings (3, 4 and 6). In 2021, votive offerings were found under the last floor of the 5th building, but the bulk of the votive figurines were found in the 3rd building. They were concentrated on the abandoned embankments in the eastern part of the building. Natural depressions in the stone walls appear to have been used as niches for votive offerings. Another cluster was found along the southern wall of the western part of the building. Flat stones protruding from the wall at regular intervals and at regular heights suggest that there was once a long wooden shelf where votive objects were stored.
A monumental plate with an inscription was found in the doors of building 3. It has been moved from its original location. The inscription dates from the late Hellenistic period and is the name of a magistrate, probably an official of the sanctuary itself. Also found were several inscribed drinking vessels and votives referring to the two deities of the sanctuary.
Excavations by the Thessaly University of Greece and the Ministry of Culture have also unearthed sumptuous pottery brought from other parts of Greece, ornate lamps, and fragments of ritual vases used in the worship of Demeter and Persephone at Eleusis, an ancient suburb of Athens.
It is not clear to what extent the site on Kythnos was associated with Eleusis, one of the most important religious centers of ancient Greece, where goddesses were worshiped during secret rites that were open only to initiates who were forbidden to speak about what they saw. It is known that the sanctuary at Eleusis owned land on the island.