Pan’s Cave – the secret of the stones

Monumental IconsThere are some heritage sites which are described as iconic.  Many of these sites are designated as World Heritage Sites, and are often a focus of contested histories.  Today, such sites become symbolic nodes in wider landscapes, entangled in conservation yearnings for authenticity, situated in desires for appropriate settings and presented with official heritage narritives for the global tourist.

Large sites with large political dimensions.

Such sites also have traces of individual expression,

Traces (685x1024)centuries worth of names and dates scratched into polished marble, each perhaps a small act craving Athena like immortality.

In contrast to the large public monuments at the top of the Acropolis there are also lesser known sites on its northern west side with deeper, perhaps darker, resonances, which are readily passed by with a touristic rush to the top.  This time the scratchings on stone, reveal the name of Pan.

Pans Cave 1A small labyrinth of arches and passages…

Pans Cave 2Rock Water (1024x685)at the heart of which a primordial water still seeps down the wall.

Pans Cave 3 (685x1024)Pans Cave 6 (685x1024)Parts of the labyrinth clearly still to be revealed…

Pans Cave 4 (1024x685) Pans Cave 5 (1024x685)To the west of Pans cave are the caves of Apollo and Zeus.  Niches carved into the rock, would have held marble tablets inscribed with dedications, now lie empty.

Cave of Zeus (685x1024)Other caves and shrines are found on the north-west side of the Acropolis.

An open air Sanctuary of Aphrodite and Eros has similar recesses for marble inscribed dedications, but here they are no longer empty.

ShrineNearly all have little offerings set within.

Niche 1Niche 2 Niche 3 Niche 4 Niche 5 Niche 6Quartz PotElsewhere pottery and stone has been arranged as small cairns, resting upon rock surfaces.

Micro-cairnTowersMicro-cairn 2What are these offerings, these tokens to Aphrodite and Eros ?


Such small acts are readily overlooked in a landscape dominated by the monumental.
But it is such small acts which so readily give meaning in the activities which may have taken place in the past at such monumental sites.  Fleeting moments, these traces readily fall and disperse, returning to the earth as
simple stones
which carry their secrets.

6 thoughts on “Pan’s Cave – the secret of the stones

  1. Wonderful to see these old caves, with of course much longer history than the monuments at the top! I love the connection with the dark earth, the womb and the sacred spring. Wishes left in stone 🙂

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