Militaristic and pious? Lead figurines from the Spartan sanctuary of Artemis Orthia, presented by Dr Andrew Bayliss

This was the second in our Objects in Focus talks, held on Wednesday 12 November at 13:00. The talks are intended to introduce the hidden treasures in our Archaeology Collection to new audiences and to showcase the range of expertise in the Department of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology.

Our second Objects in Focus talk was another terrific session lead by Dr Andrew Bayliss who is a Senior Lecturer in Greek History and an expert on Spartan history. We are lucky to have a group of lead figurines in the Archaeology Collection from the Spartan sanctuary of Artemis Orthia, and it was great to learn more about them and their history during the talk. 

Andres Bayliss presenting the objects in focus seriesDr Andrew Bayliss presenting on the lead figurines from the Spartan sanctuary of Artemis Orthia. It was a packed event with standing room only! Thanks to everyone who came

Dr Bayliss introduced the group to the history and context of the sanctuary, along with providing insight into the role of the figurines in cult practice. It was so interesting to learn about the brutal rituals practised by the Spartans. For example, Dr Bayliss explained the sanctuary’s role in Spartan education, as young boys were tasked with stealing a wheel of cheesefrom the altar. However, the altar was defended by older boys who would whip the less nimble of the youngsters. We were told that later in the Roman era boys would simply take it in turns to withstand as much whipping as possible, without showing any sign of pain! It was fascinating learning about this ancient culture while also having objects from that culture in front of us!  

Andres Bayliss showing lead figurines from SpartaDr Bayliss discussing the lead figurines from the sanctuary of Artemis Orthia.

We found the talk to be a great way of not only illustrating Spartan life but also emphasising how unique its culture was in the eyes of other Greeks and how, even today, we find their culture fascinating! It is such a privilege to have some Spartan objects in CAHA!

If you’re disappointed you missed this talk, don’t fear, we’re excited to announce that Jen Turner will present a talk on the Apis Bull in Egyptian Religion on the 11 December at 13:00. If that’s not enough, the second episode of our podcast series Stories from Objects will be released at the end of this month! 

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