Project Background

Answering questions about the origins of Greek cult and Greek athletics are at the heart of the agenda of the Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project.

Since 2004 we have been working at the site of the Sanctuary of Zeus. Excavations were carried out in the lower sanctuary, 2006-2010 and at the altar and temenos at the southern peak of the mountain, 2007-2010. Following five years of study between 2011-2015, excavations resumed in both the upper and lower sanctuaries from 2016-2019, paused two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and finished in 2022. A study season is planned for the summer of 2023.

Originally a joint University of Pennsylvania Museum and University of Arizona project, the research is now sponsored by the University of Arizona together with the Greek Archaeological Service under the auspices of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens and the Ministry of Culture and Sports. Our project is a synergasia meaning that we work together with our Greek colleagues in all aspects of our work. We have finished almost 20 very productive years in the field and have learned important information and details about the altar, temenos and the lower mountain meadow with its Sanctuary of Pan, the site of the Lykaion Games and the only visible hippodrome in the ancient Greek world.

Earlier excavations from the late 19th and early 20th centuries under the auspices of the Archaeological Society of Athens provided the first evidence of dedications from the mountain-top shrine. We are greatly indebted to the early work of K. Kontopoulos and K. Kourouniotis for their endeavors and early publications. From these early excavations it was learned that the ash altar area was used to burn the dedications of animals and several ancient authors including Plato, Theophrastus and Pausanias mention human sacrifice at the site. Questions that were important in our early thinking in 2004 related to how did these dedications begin and where did the cult of Zeus come from? How early were athletic contests (well known from the Classical period) associated with the cult? How does the Sanctuary of Zeus at Mt. Lykaion and its athletic program relate to the nearby cult of Zeus at Olympia?



David Gilman Romano, Ph.D.

Nicholas and Athena Karabots Professor of Greek Archaeology, School of Anthropology, University of Arizona

Co-Director and Field Director, Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project & Director of the Parrhasian Heritage Park Initiative


Mary E. Voyatzis, Ph. D.

Professor of Anthropology and Classics, Emerita, University of Arizona

Co-Director and Director of Finds, Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project

Anna-Vassiliki Karapanagiotou, Ph. D.

Anna Vassiliki Karapanagiotou, Ph. D.

Director, National Archaeological Museum, Athens, Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports

Director, Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project; Former Ephor of Arcadian Antiquities (2010-2022)

Former Ephor_Michalis Petropoulos_Screen Shot 2023-05-04 at 1.20.43 PM

Michalis Petropoulos, Ph. D.

Former Ephor of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, 39th Ephorate in Tripolis (2006-2010)., Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports

Former Director, Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project.


Anastasia Panagiotopoulou

Former Ephor of Antiquities, E' Ephoreia of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, Sparta (2004-2006), Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports

Former Director, Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project

Website Creation

The following Research Assistants working in the Archaeological Mapping Lab (2021-2023) in the School of Anthropology at the University of Arizona have been responsible for the creation of much of this new Mt. Lykaion website with the important leadership of Laryssa Shipley and under the direction of David Gilman Romano.


Laryssa Shipley, Lab Manager

Lauren Tomanelli

Nicholas Jones

Colin Omilanowski

Katrina Kuxhausen

Savhanna Long

Jordyn Pursell

Noah Simmons


The Project is grateful for the generous support of the following who have made the fieldwork possible.

Annette Merle-Smith

Long-time Penn Museum Overseer Annette Merle-Smith was one of the earliest friends and supporters of work undertaken at Mt. Lykiaon. Merle-Smith has continued her important Leadership Gifts to the Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project

In 1996 she supported a computerized architectural survey of the sanctuary which set the stage for the larger Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project beginning in 2004. A leadership gift creating the Merle-Smith fund for Research at Mt. Lykaion has supported the creation of a Research Center as well as support for ongoing annual project costs. In each of the excavation and survey seasons between 2004-2023 the Merle-Smith Fund for Research at Mt. Lykaion has supported excavation and has supported dozens of students for their participation. The Mt. Lykaion Project Team and the University of Arizona are deeply grateful to Annette Merle-Smith for making this important research work possible.

The Karabots Foundation

Since 2004, the Karabots Foundation has provided important Leadership Gifts to the Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project and has pledged to support the future Museum in Megalopolis, the proposed Parrhasian Heritage Park as well as the ongoing Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project.

Circle of Zeus

  • †Ms. Annette Merle-Smith
  • †Mr. & Mrs. Nicholas Karabots
  • Mr. James H. Ottaway, Jr.
  • Mr. John J. Medveckis
  • Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Keating
  • †Mr. and †Mrs. Edward K. Hueber
  • Mr. and Mrs. J. Barton Riley
  • Ms. Susan W. and †Mr. Cummins Catherwood, Jr.
  • Mr. Brian Kelly
  • Mr. and Mrs. Cole Davis
  • Mr. and Mrs. Arch Brown
  • Ms. Dorothy Dinsmoor
  • Ms. Betty Edmonson
  • Anonymous

Friends of Mt. Lykaion

  • Mr. and Mrs. Larry Adamson
  • Ms. Elizabeth T. Bates
  • Mr. and Mrs. Peter G. Christodoulou
  • Mr. and Mrs. John B. Crosby
  • †Mr. J. Garfield DeMarco
  • †Mr. J. Richard Duffield
  • Mr. Julian Ettelson
  • †Mr. and Mrs. Peter Fasseas
  • Mr. Peter C. Ferry
  • Mr. and Mrs. Jack Foster
  • †Mr. and Mrs. Guy Ferro
  • Ms. Adaline Frelinghuysen
  • Mr. Frederick Frelinghuysen
  • Mr. Theodore Frelinghuysen
  • Col. and Mrs. Thomas Guenther
  • Mr. and Mrs. James Hays
  • Dr. Eleni Hasaki
  • Ms. Janis and Hermann Hastreiter
  • Ms. Ginny Healy
  • Mr. and Mrs. Ted Hinderaker
  • Dr. Marilyn Halonen
  • Dr. Gregory Hodgins and Dr. Gretchen Gibbs
  • †Ms. Susan Horsey
  • †Mr. and Mrs. Jim Jennings
  • Ms. Nancy Jensen
  • Ms. Judith P. Jenney
  • Dr. J. P. Jones
  • †Mr. J. Garfield DeMarco
  • †Ms. Klare Kolins
  • Ms. Sharon Langley
  • Mr. Leon Limperis
  • Mr. and Mrs. William Lomicka
  • Mr. Christopher Klauser Long
  • Ms. Marty Lynch
  • Mr. Neil E. Matthew
  • Ms. Suzanne D. May and Mr. Philip G. May
  • Mr. Robert McQuiston
  • Mr. and Mrs. William Moeller
  • Mr. and Mrs. Robert Mundheim
  • Ms. Jamie Musselman
  • Mr. Alexander Nagel
  • Ms. Sallie Naylor
  • †Mr. Ned Nelson
  • Mr. and Mrs. Terry O'Connor
  • †Ms. Dorothy Olson
  • Ms. Sandra L. Olson
  • Mr. and Mrs. Chuck Ott
  • Mr. Daniel J. Peters & †Dr. Annette Kolodny
  • Dr. George Papanicolaou
  • Mr. Eleftherios Papanicolaou
  • Mr. and Mrs. David Park
  • Ms. Pamela Prezak
  • Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Randolph
  • Mr. and Mrs. Jeremiah Reedy
  • Mr. and Mrs. John Rice
  • Ms. Karen Robinson
  • Dr. and Mrs. David Gilman Romano
  • Mr. and Mrs. George Rosenberg
  • †Dr. Peter Salomon & Ms. Patricia Morgan
  • Mr. Curtis Scaife
  • Ms. Cita Scott & Mr. Harry George
  • Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Shimberg
  • †Mr. Sidney Searles
  • Ms. Heather Sigworth
  • Mr. Nick Soloway
  • Mr. Jerome B. Spier
  • Ms. Vasiliki M. Spier
  • Mr. and Mrs. Francis Stafiliopatis
  • Dr. Ann Steiner
  • Ms. Janin Struminger
  • †Ms. Jane Swicegood
  • Ms. Beatrice F. van Roijen
  • Mr. and Mrs. Richard Wynn
  • †Ms. Margaret Wilson
  • Mrs. Peter Yiannos
  • Ms. Angel Voyatzis
  • Dr. Mary Voyatzis
  • Mr. Daniel Wachtler

Institutional Sponsors

  • Hellenic Cultural Foundation of Tucson, Arizona
  • University of Arizona, College of Humanities
  • University of Arizona, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • University of Arizona, International Programs
  • University of Arizona, School of Anthropology
  • Phillips Exeter Academy
  • Swarthmore College
  • Hellenic University Club, Philadelphia
  • Hellenic University Club, Wilmington, Delaware
  • University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
  • Graduate Group in the Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World, University of Pennsylvania
  • Graduate Group in Ancient History, University of Pennsylvania

Local Support in Greece

  • Arcadian Ephoreia of Antiquities, Tripolis
  • American School of Classical Studies at Athens
  • Cultural Society of Ano Karyes, Arcadia, 'O Lykaios Dias,' Christos Koumoundouros, President
  • Kastanochoroi Cultural Society, Elias Pavlopoulos, President
  • Lykaion Cultural Society, George Thomopoulos, President
  • Mayor of Andania, Mr. Giorgos Diagoupes
  • Mayor of Andritsena, Mr. Trifon Athanasopoulos
  • Mayor of Eira, Mr. Giannis Adamopoulos
  • Mayor of Gortynos, Mr. Kostas Michopoulos
  • Mayor of Megalopolis, Arcadia, Mr. Panayiotis Bouras
  • Mayor of Phalaisias, Mr. Yiannis Phousekis
  • Mayor of Phigaleia, Mr. Yiannis Pipiles
  • Mayor of Tripolis, Arcadia, Mr. Alexandros Kotsianis
  • Nomarchis of Arcadia, Mr. Demetrios Konstandopoulos
  • Patriotic Societies Union of Lykosoura, Kyriakos Karagiannis, President
  • Syllogos of Ano Karyes, Arcadia
  • Vastas Cultural Society, Photis Zois, President

Foundation Support

  • Institute for Aegean Prehistory: 2009-2023.
  • National Science Foundation: Grant #1125523, 2011-2013; Grant #1949622, 2018-2021.
  • The 1984 Foundation: 2004-
  • The Karabots Foundation in honor of Constance Chrisomalis Karabots: 2004-2021.
  • The Samuel H. Kress Foundation: 2005-2010
  • The Niarchos Program for the Promotion of Hellenic Culture, University of PennsylvaniaThe Wallace Foundation: 2006
  • National Geographic Committee for Research and Exploration: 2016
  • The Arete Foundation
  • The Parrhasian Heritage Foundation
  • The Frelinghuysen Foundation