The cave of Melissane

One of Same’s peripheral sanctuaries was the cave of Melissane, in the area of Karavomylos, NW of the city. Nymphs and Pan were worshipped there, while Dontas has recognized a “prehistoric sound” in its name.

The cave -chasm, an opening with a lake in the back, resulted from a rock fall, occurring after karstic dissolution. Stalactites of large dimensions have been formed in its roofed part, while a small islet was formed in about the middle of the lake due to rock falls. The cave’s impressive appearance, combined with the all-green surroundings, seems to have attracted the area’s ancient population, who turned it into a cult area for the worship of Pan and the Nymphs. The place was ideal for this purpose, since caves were thought to be places where such deities resided.

It would have been difficult and dangerous to access the cave in antiquitiy, since it was only possible to reach it by using a rope hanging from the top. Today’s entrance was created when the then Local Committee of Tourism on Cephalonia dug in 1951 a tunnel in order to allow people visit the cave. After that, excavation was undertaken in 1963 by Sp. Marinatos on the islet and produced votive offerings of the Late Classical and Hellenistic period: a clay figurine of Pan, a clay disc picturing Nymphs dancing, small plaques with relief scenes and other finds. Marinatos in fact named a female bust pictured on one of the plaques “Nymphe Melissane”.