In the sanctuary of Artemis Brauronia we are fortunate enough to be able to elucidate the rituals, which took place there through written, iconographic and architectural sources.
In this article I shall search for and try to identify some of the locations for the rituals depicted on the very interesting krateriskoi, which were found in large numbers in this sanctuary and were undoubtedly made there. They were also found in other Artemis sanctuaries in Attica, especially numer- ous in the sanctuary of Artemis Mounichia in Piraeus. It is quite unusual in Greek sanctuaries (in contrast for example to Egyptian sanctuaries) to find illustrations of the rituals taking place there; one of the few exceptions apart from Brauron is the Kabeirion near Thebes, where many vases with ritual scenes have been found,1 another is the sanctuary of Demeter and Core in Eleusis, where several depictions of the rituals, including mysteries, which took place here have been identified.2
I shall in this investigation concentrate on the Brauronian sanctuary as it looked in the period before the end of the 5th century BC, when the por- tico with banqueting rooms was added, since the vases mostly belong to that period.3 They date from the end of the 6th to the 1st half of the 5th century BC and must therefore depict the sanctuary as it looked at that time. In addition to the primarily black-figure krateriskoi with much white cover colour found in the sanctuary itself,4 I shall also include the highly interesting and much discussed fragments of three red-figure krateriskoi from a Swiss private collection, whose original findspot is unfortunately unknown.5 But there is much to indicate that they belong, in fact, to the sanctuary of Artemis in Brauron.
The local Artemis, who was worshipped in Brauron, was primarily respon- sible for birth, children and young people (and particularly girls) and for their safe passage from childhood to adulthood, and was accordingly also worshipped as kourotrophos. In Brauron, she had preserved her old fer- tility character and had power over life and death (on a white lekythos from Brauron she is depicted with wings, like Hekate, Fig. 1) as well as over the fertility of humans and animals. These functions, reflected in her votive offerings and also known from written sources, probably indicate her pre-Greek, perhaps Near-Eastern roots. That she was also worshipped as a goddess of hunting, a function closely related to that of Potnia Theron, is indicated by depictions on some Brauronian vases. She was, as U. von Wilamowitz-Möllendorff has expressed it, “eine Göttin des Draussen”.6 In Brauron, Artemis was accordingly partly represented as a solemn, seated or standing goddess, partly as a goddess in the action of shooting an arrow or carrying a torch.
In the sanctuary of Brauron other deities were also worshipped: Leto and Apollo, her mother and brother, and also Dionysos. In addition, according to written sources and especially Euripides,7 Iphigeneia was worshipped as a heroine here, although she is never mentioned specifically in the inscrip- tions or represented iconographically in Brauron.