Pamela Gaber

After discovering these steps at Idalion, in central Cyprus, archaeologists realized that they had found an ancient temenos, or sacred sanctuary, that had been lost for over a century (author Pamela Gaber is at center). This hillside shrine (see photo of shrine) is enclosed by a wall that circles the entire hill. Ancient Cypriots called the god worshiped here the Wanax (Young Lord). When Phoenician colonists arrived in Idalion around 450 B.C., they called the god of the temenos by their own word for “Lord,” Adon—a term also used in the Hebrew Bible to refer to the Israelite god Yahweh. Later, Greeks who worshiped at this shrine after about 200 B.C. hellenized the Phoenician “Adon” by adding “is,” forming the word “Adonis.” Gaber makes the tantalizing suggestion that in these linguistic twists and turns the myth of Venus and Adonis was born (a previous photo shows a 28-inch-high bronze sculpture of Venus and Adonis, cast in 1895 by American artist Frederick William MacMonnies).