In 1953, excavation continued under the direction of Gösta Säflund. The Temple Terrace area was thoroughly investigated; in its eastern part a mudbrick construction, possibly an early altar, was excavated. At the Oikoi Building, some deep trenches were dug, reaching bedrock at a depth of 5 meters. At the excavation of Andron C the most important sculpture from the site was found: a well-preserved, one-meter-tall sphinx of marble, probably fallen from the roof of Andron B. It is now exhibited in the Bodrum Museum.


    After the end of the 1953 campaign, work on the final report was commenced. At the same time, it was decided that the excavations should be finished and the site put in order and handed over to the Turkish authorities. A final campaign took place in 1960, headed by Dr. Alfred Westholm, director of the Gothenburg Art Museum. In addition to the ordering of the site, Westholm excavated at the Byzantine Church in the gateway area. He also excavated at Andron C and could revise its proposed Archaic origin; it turned out to be of Roman imperial date (1st century AD). He also cleared the West Stoa in the south-western part of the sanctuary. The 1960 campaign, which went on for two months, ended with an official ceremony, on 27 August, during which the excavation was formally closed and the site handed over to the Turkish authorities.

In 1948, the excavations, of course, had to start with the later periods represented by the visible ruins, which soon were found to date from the 4th century BC and later. In some places earlier pottery turned up, but to Persson’s regret no finds earlier than the 7th century BC appeared. The excavations were, however, very successful in other ways. A splendid 4th century sanctuary appeared during those campaigns, especially important for its architectural remains and for the large number of interesting Greek inscriptions.


    Axel W. Persson (1888-1951), professor of Classical Archaeology at Uppsala University had special reasons for starting excavations at Labraunda. He had spent many years excavating Bronze Age remains in Greece and like many of his colleagues he wanted to solve the problem of the undeciphered Bronze Age script of Crete, Linear B. Ancient authors had written of close connexions in the Bronze Age between the Cretans and the Karians, and the place name Labranda appeared to be etymologically related to the word Labyrinth, the name of the palace at Knossos in Crete. Since Persson believed that some Karian 7th century BC script signs had a Cretan Bronze Age origin, he thought that Labraunda might hide an archive with inscriptions both in an earlier Karian script and in the later one, texts that could therefore link Linear B to the Karian script. With such finds the final solution of the Cretan script problem might be achieved.

Excavation photo showing the sphinx when found in 1953

    After 1960, research and publication work in Sweden followed, but during the study of the architecture it was realized that further measuring and documentation of the architectural remains at the site was necessary. Three measuring and study campaigns therefore followed in 1979, 1983 and 1985. It then became apparent, however, that a satisfactory study of the architecture was not possible without some complementary excavation in important buildings. A new excavation permit was granted by the Turkish authorities in 1987 to Professor Pontus Hellström, Uppsala University, present writer. A series of excavation campaigns were thus started in 1988 and continued until 1993 under the auspices of the Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul. The aim was primarily to investigate the interior of Andron B and the plan of the East Stoa. After an interval of eight years, the excavations were continued in 2002. Since 2004 Dr. Lars Karlsson of Uppsala University has taken over as the director of the excavations, which are now taking place on an annual basis. The fortress on the Akropolis and the Byzantine Church are now being investigated as well as remains in the surroundings, including five other forts and towers, the Sacred Way, and many spring houses and rock-cut tombs. During these last years a programme of safe-guarding the site has been initiated and a static analysis of the walls of Andron A has been undertaken. New information signs have been placed at key points in the sanctuary and a parking area has been arranged.

One of the new information signs, behind it a view of the split rock.


    The Swedish excavations were begun in 1948. This first campaign was very successful. The excavation started on the uppermost terrace, at the most well-preserved building, which was then believed to be the temple of Zeus. Laumonier had called it Temple A, using the name Temple B for another building with identical plan on the terrace below. When investigation of those two buildings started, it appeared that they were not temples. Inscriptions showed that they were called Andron, buildings for sacred meals at the sacrificial feasts, and they were thus renamed Andron A and Andron B. Andron B had been erected by Maussollos, the famous builder of the Mausoleum at Halikarnassos (Bodrum) and the ruler of Karia 377-352 BC. Andron A was probably built by his brother and successor, Idrieus (351-344 BC). Immediately to the north of Andron A, the facade of another building was discovered, which also carried a similar inscription. It gave the information that this building, consisting of two square rooms behind a porch, carried the name of Oikoi (“the rooms”) and that it was built by Idrieus.

Andron A, from the north-east

The true Temple of Zeus was soon afterwards discovered to the east of the Oikoi Building. An inscription revealed that this building had also been erected by Idrieus. To the east of the temple, the front of a stoa (porch) from the Roman period (2nd century AD) was partly excavated. To the south of the temple some store-rooms were investigated. Many Greek inscriptions on marble were also found during this first excavation campaign, which also produced two fragments of terracotta tablets with Karian script, no doubt the most sensational small finds that year. Persson believed that one of them was actually carrying texts in both an older Karian script and the younger alphabet.

Fragment of terracotta tablet with Karian inscription.

In the campaigns of 1949 and 1950, the excavation of the Temple of Zeus was completed, as well as the clearing of the front of the North Stoa to the east of the temple. On the terrace below, excavation of Andron B continued. At the south-eastern end of the sanctuary, the two entrance buildings (Propylons) were excavated, one looking south and the other looking east, and the large processional stairs leading from the Propylon Area to the central  parts of the shrine were almost completely excavated. A third fragment of a terracotta tablet was also found, inscribed in the Karian alphabet. But no finds earlier than the 7th century BC appeared, and Persson’s hopes for an archive with early Karian script tablets dating to the 2nd millennium BC were never fulfilled.

    In 1951, during the preparations for the fourth campaign, Axel Persson fell ill and died shortly before the planned departure from Sweden. Gösta Säflund, the professor of Classical Archaeology and Ancient History in Stockholm, who had been a member of the team since 1949, was appointed new director of the excavations.

Bronze plaque to the memory of A.W. Persson (1952).

On the uppermost terrace, excavation of the Oikoi Building proceeded, and some work at Andron A was also done. In the middle of the Temple Terrace, a retaining wall was discovered, which apparently was the southern border of the shrine in its early days (7th to 5th centuries BC). Before the mid-4th century, the sanctuary seems to have consisted of just this single terrace. A building at its eastern end was interpreted as the gateway to the early shrine. On the terrace below, excavation continued at Andron B, and, to the south of it, another similar building appeared, which was called Andron C. Other buildings were excavated in the gateway area. Among the small finds from this campaign, two more fragmentary terracotta tablets with Karian script were recorded.

Excavation of Oikoi building (1951).