This study of sites of 84 temples of Classical (480-338 BC)Greece found no clear relationship of their sites with geological or topographical setting, or with compass orientation but there was a consistent correlation of soil type with particular deities (Figure 6). Temples to Athena and Zeus on soils of citadels (Anthrept) contrast with those of Artemis and Apollo on rocky soils (Orthent, Xerept) of wilderness. Hera and Hermes were worshipped on clayey soils (Xeralfs) suited to cattle grazing. Sanctuaries of Demeter and Dionysos are on fertile soils (Xerolls) suitable for mixed farming, whereas alluvial soils (Fluvents) of large farming estates were sacred to Hestia, Ares and Hephaestos. Temples of Aphrodite and Poseidon are on arid soils (Calcids) near fishing harbours, but caves were sacred to Persephone and Hades.The author suggests that this pattern is explained by the coming together of tribes with different economic activities. This is a very interesting paper to read, not least for the beautiful illustrations which accompany it.
Antiquity 82 (2008): 640–657
Rocks, views, soils and plants at the temples of ancient Greece
Gregory J. Retallack
This study explores bedrock geology, topographic setting, compass orientation, soil profile and plant cover at 84 temples of Classical (480-338 BC) mainland Greece, several Aegean islands and Cyprus. A striking pattern emerges: the soil and vegetation matches the dedications to particular deities, suggesting an economic basis for particular cults.