Between Worlds pp 113-135 | Cite as

Pan Rituals of Ancient Greece Revisited



Caves have always inspired human imagination and Ancient Greece was no exception. This chapter focuses on the rituals performed in sacred caves in worship of Pan and the Nymphs. Their worship, described vividly in the Dyskolos of Menander, required corporeal effort to access the sanctuary, for sacrifice, preparation and the communal consumption of food and drink by the participants, as well as the performance of ritual dances, probably accompanied by chanting and music. This chapter considers not only how the visual and aural qualities of these places inspired ancient thought, but how they stimulated or deprived human senses and made individuals believe that they were the abodes of sacred spirits. Pan and the Nymphs have special connections to sound and resonance, and there appears to be a reciprocal connection between ritual performances and the sonic qualities of grottos. Yet most archaeological research in caves of Pan and the Nymphs has focused on the visual characteristics of the sites and makes no reference to their aural qualities. This chapter suggests that acoustic survey should be reinforced at these sites, to gain an understanding of whether or not sound was a determining factor in their recognition as sacred places appropriate to this cult.


Pan Cave sanctuary Archaeology of the senses Archaeoacoustics 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ancient History and ArchaeologyNational Kapodistrian University of AthensAthensGreece

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