Kaviria (Kaveiria)

The Kavirian Mysteries

The religious ceremonies performed to honour the Kavirians, were called "Kavirian Mysteries" (Kavirian Sacraments). They took place in the holy sanctuary of the Kavirians, which was built on the cape of Chloe, opposite Hephaestia in Limnos.

During the Hellenistic period the Kavirian worship was spread internationally and people from all over the world thronged in its worship centers, as in Lemnos, Samothrace and in Thebes. In opposition to the Eleusinian mysteries the initiation was free for men women and children of all nationalities, free or slaves. The initiation would begin, when the group or a person decided to show themselves before the gods, not just during the festival season. It was something similar to the Christian baptism. The public ceremonies were almost the same with those of the other sanctuaries. They included animal sacrifices, libations, prayers and dedications.

The most important event was the celebration of porfiria, where they revived the discovery of fire, which happened in Lemnos according to tradition. The metalworker guilds played an important role. They would go up the Mount Mosichlo where they would light the clean and pure flame with a forge, a bronze reflector they would hold opposite the sun, something like today's lighting of the Olympic Flame.

After 175 BC, when Lemnos became a part of the Delian league, the new light was taken from the holy sanctuary of Delos. For nine days they would put out all the fires in the island and they'd send a ship to Delos to bring the new light. During the wait, the inhabitants would invoke the chthonic gods until the ship arrived and Hephaestus was triumphed.

The archeological excavations made by the Italian Archeological School, brought to light the Sanctuary of the Kavirians, which was active from the 8th century BC until late antiquity. The buildings outside the walls of the Sanctuary of Hephaestia are built on two small terraces, created on the side of the low hill, which descend steeply to the sea, creating cape Chloe. From the side of the land, the enclosure of the Sanctuary runs across the ridge, while from the side of the sea the Sanctuary is protected by strong embankments. In the southern plateau, there was recently discovered a Telesterion of archaic times. It is a building with an irregular rectangular floor plan with a circular protrusion, like some kind of an altar. The shape of the building and the findings consolidate the theory that this is the earliest phase of the Telesterion, built possibly in the beginning of the 7th century BC and destroyed on the second half of the same century. The north plateau is occupied by the Telesterion of the Hellenistic era. This is a prostyle building with twelve Doric columns, with no open space in front of its entrance. The Telesterion, dating around 200 BC, was looted and burned during the Roman Empire time, between the 2nd and the 3rd century AD, when the area was abandoned and it was used as a large "quarry" for the construction of the subsequent buildings. The after-roman Telesterion (the so-called Basilica), found in the north plateau, is founded on the archaic one. Its configuration shows an attempt to repeat, in general terms but smaller dimensions, the layout of the old damaged Hellenistic building. Its ruins represent the last period of existence of the temple and witness the long survival of the Kavirian worship in Lemnos. There is no evidence of this worship being replaced by the Christian. Maybe the destruction of the building and the final ending of the temple were due to the destructive obsession of the first Christians at the end of the 3rd and the beginning of the 4th century BC. Ruins of residential buildings are preserved from this period.

Πηγή: atlasvisual.com