Above it there was a balcony, or upper floor, attained by stairs on the East. At the NW angle of this portico s square platform can be seen, raised to a height of 2 m. and attained by stairs on the SW side. In the interior of this platform is a sacrificial pit in polygonal display. Above it, there was a marble canopy, resting on four small columns. This was the "vothros" destined for sacrifices to the infernal gods and the souls of the dead, or, according to another theory, the cage for the sacred serpent of the god.
The patients were lying on matresses and the god or his serpent would appear in the darkness of the night. Before entering the dormitory, the patient had to purify himself with ablutions. H would then proceed to the sacred spring in a cave, in the form of a rotunda, 5 m. in diameter, reminding of the famous cupola of Polykleitos in Epidauros, one of the rarest masterpieces of Greek architecture. The slightly salty water, still gushing out of the rock, was gathered into an aqueduct. During the Turkish occupation this grotto was turned into a Christian chapel, dedicated to the Panagia Castriotissa.
It seems that with the passage of time, and the growing needs of the city, the Asclepieion of Athens expanded considerably so that it ended having two sanctuaries within the same enclosure, two springs, two temples and two dormitories, on both the East and West of the complex.
As the visitor mounts the terrace, one first encounters the Temple of Asclepios, of which only the foundations remain. It is a small building of 10 m. (34 ft.) by 6 m. (20 ft.). Its front was later ornamented with a peristyle. Before the temple stood the altar of the god. Behind the temple one can see the foundations of the stoa, or arcade, 49 m. (162 ft.) by 9 m. (33 ft.), the most important edifice in the sanctuary, where the patients would wait to be healed. It was divided by an inner row of columns, probably Ionic, into two naves. The exterior colonnade had 17 Doric columns with marble architraves.
Greek: Ἀσκληπιός, Asklēpiós [asklɛːpiós];
In Greek mythology and religion, Asclepios was the Greek God of Medicine, son of Apollo and Coronis. His name is as a result of his birth since his mother had to have her womb cut open in order for him to be born, now known as a c-section. Asclepios means "to cut open".
According to mythology, as he was growing up, Asclepios was taught medicine by the centaur Chiron. Through his studies, he had become so deft in the art of medicine that he was able to return the living from the dead.
The symbol of Asclepios is a snake wrapped around a staff which is seen throughout all medical societies as well as the American Medical Association in modern times.
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