Heroic Offerings

The Terracotta Plaques from the Spartan Sanctuary of Agamemnon and Kassandra
Gina Salapata

The first in-depth study of the terracotta plaques from the sanctuary of Agamemnon and Kassandra at Amyklai


Heroic Offerings sheds light on the study of religion in Sparta, one of Greece’s most powerful city-states and the long-term rival of Athens. Sparta’s history is well known, but its archaeology has been much less satisfactorily explored. Through the comprehensive study of a distinctive class of terracotta votive offerings from a specific sanctuary, Gina Salapata explores both coroplastic art and regional religion. By integrating archaeological, historical, literary, and epigraphic sources, she provides important insights into the heroic cults of Lakonia and contributes to an understanding of the political and social functions of local ritual practice.

This volume focuses on a large group of decorated terracotta plaques, from the sixth to fourth centuries BCE. These molded plaques were discovered with other offerings in a sanctuary deposit excavated near Sparta more than fifty years ago, but they have remained unpublished until now. They number over 1,500 complete and fragmentary pieces. In technique, style, and iconography they form a homogeneous group unlike any other from mainland Greece. The large number of plaques and variety of types reveal a stable and vigorous coroplastic tradition in Lakonia during the late Archaic and Classical period.

Heroic Offerings will be of interest to students and scholars of Greek history, art, and archaeology, to those interested in ancient religious practice in the Mediterranean, and to all inspired by Athens’ chief political rival, Sparta.

This volume received financial support from the Archaeological Institute of America.

Gina Salapata is Senior Lecturer in Classical Studies, Massey University, the University of New Zealand.

Praise / Awards

  • "The conclusions summarize and deepen the original contributions of the work: the functional difference compared to the findings of the tablets, the generic link they have with the heroes who were dedicated to finding justification in the spread of the same iconographic schemes in sanctuaries dedicated to different gods or heroes, [and] the importance of the specific cult of Agamemnon and Cassandra in Sparta..."
    --Maria Grazia Palmieri, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

  • [Heroic Offerings succeeds] in bringing to the fore dedicatory material that has not received much scholarly attention despite the fact that terracotta plaques must have been among the most common dedications."
    --Phoenix Book Reviews
  • "The importance of the research carried out by the author and its general quality make this book an indispensible reference for the knowledge of the coroplastic craft in Lakonia as well as for shedding light on the Sanctuary of Agamemnon and Kassandra in Amyklai."
    --American Journal of Archaology
  • "This book is an essential reference tool for researchers of both Lakonian cult and its material culture..."
    --Journal of Hellenic Studies

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Product Details

  • 432 pages.
  • 74 color photos, 3 maps.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Ebook
  • 2015
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-02986-0

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  • Sparta
    Hero cult
    Votive offerings
    Terracotta plaques
    Stone reliefs
    Greek religion