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The “Laconian key” in Ovce Pole - votive key, an artefact from Byla Zora

 

Bylazora was a capital city of ancient Paeonia from the period of early classic antiquity. It is located near the village of Knezhje, which is part of the municipality of Sveti Nikole in Ovche Pole valley in the Republic of Macedonia.

Објавено на 20.12.2018, прочитано 434 пати

Bylazora was a capital city of ancient Paeonia from the period of early classic antiquity. It is located near the village of Knezhje, which is part of the municipality of Sveti Nikole in Ovche Pole valley in the Republic of Macedonia.

flower of life byla zora knezje ovce pole

 

Since excavations began in 2008 on the acropolis of Bylazora, a great deal has been unearthed: a monumental ramp (part of a propylon), a defensive wall, a large amount of pottery, and a multitude of objects of iron, bronze, stone and terracotta. Among these finds was a tool discovered in the 2009 season, which we initially identified as an iron hook (Figure 1), of a peculiar shape and of an unknown use. However, after an exhaustive study, we now suspect that it might be a votive key. The key found in Bylazora corresponds to a very archaic type, made entirely of iron, about 20 cm. long and hook-shaped.

votive key of bylazora

This kind of key has been found in Hera sanctuaries in Argos  and Paestum (both in the city and in the rural sanctuary of Foce del Sele). They have also been discovered in other sanctuaries:  of Aphaia on Aegina and in the Corycia Cave of Delphi, the ancient sacred center of Pan and the Nymphs. Some scholars have suggested that this type of key, found in the context of temples and shrines, may have been used to open the great doors of the houses of the gods.  This is doubtful, however, because in several of these contexts there is no door, such as the Delphic cave,  and, therefore, we should not attribute to these particular keys a practical functionality.

We do know, however, that such keys had been in use since very ancient times; in Homer we hear of them:

“…she climbed the high
stairway to her chamber, and took the bent key in her strong hand, a
goodly key of bronze, and on it was a handle of ivory...”

read more: THE VOTIVE KEY OF BYLAZORA by Pablo Aparicio Resco