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The ancient sanctuaries of Asclepius in Naupaktos and Skala

The Asklepieion of Nafpaktos
The Asklepieion of Nafpaktos, an ancient sanctuary dedicated to the cult of Asklepios, god of medicine and health, is situated at the easternmost tip of the hill called Tsoukari, close to the spring of Kefalovrysso, beyond the walls of the ancient city. It was already derelict at the time of Pausanias, who narrates a local tradition about the foundation of the sanctuary by a private citizen, called Phalysios, who suffered from an eye disease. According to Pausanias, Asklepios sent the poetess Anyte with a sealed tablet to Phalysios, urging him to read it. Phalysios broke the seal and tried to read and then was completely cured; as a sign of gratitude he offered Anyte 2000 golden staters and founded the sanctuary of the god. The location of the sanctuary was first identified by Well at 1879. Nowadays what is left is a pediment, measuring roughly 12 by 15, carved on the rock, and a coarsely levelled natural rock, about 3.5 meters high, which had been used as a wall for writing inscriptions. From these inscriptions, at least 8 initially, not much is legible apart from some letters. Inscribed stones from the sanctuary had been used as building material by local inhabitants.
The Asklepieion at Skala
A second sanctuary, dedicated also to Asklepios, known from the sources as “Asklepieion on the springs” is situated to the Northwest of the village Skala on the west side of the torrent with the same name, in a forested area difficult to access. This rural sanctuary, probably in a cave in its initial phase, consists today of a small pediment, measuring about 13 by 9 meters, about 6 meters above the small river. Three of the sides of the pediment, west, east and north, are supported by sturdy supportive walls, constructed with the pseudo-isodomic system and it is probable that the walls stand almost to their original height.
The cult of Asklepios at the region of Naupaktos
The existence of two sanctuaries of Asklepios is connected to the cult of the god which was transferred to Nafpaktos from Epidaurus, where the major sanctuary of the god existed. The springs at both sites have definitely been a decisive factor for the selection of the spots for building the sanctuaries both for practical and for ritual reasons. After all, the purification of the faithful through bathing before they met with the god in a sleeping state (enkoimesis) was a basic feature of the cult of Asklepios. Important inscriptions for the history of the Aetolians, mainly referring to manumission of slaves, were carved on architectural parts of both sanctuaries, many of them lost today, or just on plain rocks. The act of manumission took place in the form of a fictitious sale of the slave to a god, in this case to Asklepios, and was sanctioned through the writing of a formal guarantee. The inscriptions from the Asklepieion of Naupaktos are dated at the end of 3rd to the mid-2nd century B.C. Those at Skala, respectively, belong mainly to the mid-2nd century. Yet, at Naupaktos the story of Anyte may imply a foundation date at the beginning of the 3rd century B.C., when the poetess is supposed to have lived.