New Findings Show That Ramps In Ancient Greek Temples Were Built To Accommodate Disabled People And Those With Lower Mobility

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New Findings Show That Ramps In Ancient Greek Temples Were Built To Accommodate Disabled People And Those With Lower Mobility

Reconstruction of the 4th century BC Temple of Asklepios at Epidauros (right) showing the ramp Source: © 2019 J. Goodinson, scientific advisor, J Svolos. Antiquity Publishers Ltd


Thankfully, many societies over recent times have become more aware of the struggles of disabled people and, as a result, have begun to make sure that, cities, towns and buildings are becoming more easily accessible for people with disabilities. This includes ramps for people in wheelchairs, elevators, disabled parking spots and disabled washroom facilities. But now researchers have discovered that the Ancient Greeks also built their structures to ease the lives of their citizens living with disabilities.


Science magazine recently published a story showing that while the evidence of the constructions used to aid the disabled in Ancient Greece have long-been known, it is only now that it has been realised that this was their intended purpose.


Ancient Greek art, often found on pottery and other carvings, while mostly fixated on the ultra-fit Greek ideal also sometimes showed people with walking canes and crutches. According to archaeologist Debby Sneed at California State University, sites including those dedicated to Zeus and Asclepius contained ramps that were constructed for the purpose of giving access to those with physical disabilities.


The sanctuary to Asclepius at Epidaurus contains ramps that led through the main sanctuary gates, as well as smaller ramps that led through side entrances. At the massive sanctuary of Zeus, there exists two ramps leading their way inside. The sanctuary of Zeus is something that would have been visited by a huge number of Greeks in ancient times and therefore shows that the construction was built with the whole of the populace in mind - including those who would have been unable to take the stairs.


Archaeologists up to this point had believed that these ramps had been used solely for animals or construction materials, but it is only now that a consensus is building that they were used for those less able.


Debby Sneed argues that the way in which the ramps lead into the constructions and the way they were designed gives strong indication that this was for human beings and not only for materials or animals, particularly as evidence shows that animals were almost always sacrificed outside of temples, not inside. In an interview with Science magazine she said:


"The distribution is pretty clear: They show up in places where there are more disabled people."


Given the fact that many of these temples were religious sites that catered for many of those who were weak and infirm, and who may be entering in an attempt to heal their physical condition, gives further credence to these claims. A point made by Historian Jane Draycott of the University of Glasgow, who added:


"These sites are predominantly catering to people with disabilities — doesn't it make sense that they would be accommodating?"


These findings see new light on how the ancient world operated and the brilliance of those people who came before us.

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Thinking Humanity: New Findings Show That Ramps In Ancient Greek Temples Were Built To Accommodate Disabled People And Those With Lower Mobility
New Findings Show That Ramps In Ancient Greek Temples Were Built To Accommodate Disabled People And Those With Lower Mobility
Thankfully, many societies over recent times have become more aware of the struggles of disabled people and, as a result, have begun to make sure that, cities, towns and buildings are becoming more easily accessible for people with disabilities. This includes ramps for people in wheelchairs, elevators, disabled parking spots and disabled washroom facilities. But now researchers have discovered that the Ancient Greeks also built their structures to ease the lives of their citizens living with disabilities.
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