Brexiza: The Sanctuary of the Egyptian Gods
As we have noted on several occasions prior, Greece is literally a huge open air museum that is still in the process of being excavated. All across the country, new and previously unseen stuff is coming to light. From underwater shipwrecks in the Cyclades to unearthing whole chunks of a Decumanus Maximus in Thessaloniki as part of the ongoing subway metro system, the sheer amount of new locations is nothing short of staggering. Greek, Roman and on occasion Ottoman era structures routinely pop up on some feed or another. We’re so desensitized by them we barely bat an eyelid. In a country where Corinthian pillars spring out of nowhere on the pavement a few coins, styles and fragments of statues don’t even make page 17 in the newspaper. So, when Egyptian statues of the Goddess Isis and Osiris show up, you can bet that’ll make a splash. And that’s precisely the case here. Just off the legendary town of Marathon, lies a small islet called Brexiza. Better known for being Herodes Atticus’s summer residence, which handsomely extended across large swaths of land encompassing Mt Kotroni and the valley of Souli, this homage was part of Herodes Atticus’s endeavor to mirror Emperor Hadrian’s beguiling Tivoli summer residence.
Built in 160 AD, this complex contained a surprising set of structures including a heated pool and a fish farm. The old Athenian orator certainly had a predilection for fresh fish it would appear, but apart from that the archaeological site itself is singular. It contained a bath house, where the adjacent thermal spring ended up and was apparently used to cleanse the various pilgrims that wanted to pay tribute. Of note is the trifecta of Gods that were worshipped. Isis is often depicted as the Goddess Dimitra or Aphrodite, whereas Osiris was Hellenized and hitherto referred to as Satrapis. Oros, one of the lesser Egyptian Gods is also revered here.
Brexiza, and nearby Nea Makri, where one can enjoy a fine swim along Schinias beach, are no slouches when it comes to archaeological finds, but this isn’t something you encounter every day. And while Egyptian Hellenized Gods aren’t something new, nevertheless it is a significant find, despite the fact that this has been known since i792. The majority of the statues depicting Isis and Osiris are housed in the Marathon Archaeological Museum, so making a day trip is probably a decent idea.
The Egyptians are considered, and rightly so, as a beacon of civilization. Archaeologists still can’t wrap their heads around the fact that such grandiose undertakings such as building dams and pyramids could be achieved sans the requisite tools. The Egyptians were the first to weave their web, and we can now start pulling at that thread right here in Athens. At the Sanctuary of the Egyptian Gods.