GSA Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington, USA - 2017

Paper No. 144-10
Presentation Time: 4:15 PM


DAVIS, George H., Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, Gould-Simpson 326, Tucson, AZ 85721,

The second-highest summit of Mt. Lykaion, is a tectonic-klippe edifice upon which Zeus-cult activities were carried out from at least as early as 1500 BC to 1st century BC. The geology of both the klippe and its lower plate proved to be ideally suited to the requirements of Zeus-cult activities, which ranged from the Panhellenic Lykaion games to open-air ash-altar animal sacrifice. The 10°-dipping Lykaion thrust is the ‘line’ of demarcation between upper and lower levels of the sanctuary. The top of the thrust klippe contains the most ancient elements of the cult practice, including the bone-ash altar, a protostadium, and temenos (religious precinct). Beneath the Lykaion thrust is a topographic shelf (atop cliff edges) populated by built structures and activity areas (largely initiated in 7th century BC), including the hippodrome, baths, fountain (spring) houses, stoa, processional way, and administrative building. Landscape and resource utilization required only modest ‘re-shapings’ of the land, achieved along certain salient geologic contacts, structures, and bedrock. The ash altar occupies a horst block at the summit, where the limestone bedrock weathers and erodes to ‘cinder-block’-sized and shaped stones that were portable and readily rearranged into walls, ascentway(s), and physical confinements for ash and fires. The trace of the protostadium coincides with a normal fault, along which the natural accumulation of growth-sedimentation (clay and silt) produced a soft padded surface. The temenos occupies an area of flat-lying white limestone that was in part a quarry site for the preferred building stone for column drums, statue bases, and building blocks. In the lower level of the sanctuary, the 300m-long hippodrome resides along the trough of a gentle syncline. Fill was added in places to fashion the perfectly level surface required for chariot races and horse races. Fountain houses were built around springs, emanating from the thrust trace. The stoa was built on the fault trace, in such a way that the foundation rested on limestone bedrock, but space for the backwall was achieved by shoveling away fault gouge. Whenever there were new requirements in the physical/cultural expansion of the sanctuary, the overall geological characteristics of the land proved to be quite adaptable, requiring only modest re-shaping.