This was the Treasury for safekeeping the temple’s moveable property and precious votive offerings of devotees of the god.
With regard to the external decoration of the temple, the ensemble of sculptures on the pediments is considered one of the best examples of synthesis of sculpture and architecture. Represented on the east pediment was the Fall of Troy (Iliupersis) and on the west the battle between Greeks and Amazons (Amazonomachy).
Nothing has survived of the statue of Asklepios. Only scant remnants of the temple are preserved, as it was built of soft poros limestone and, moreover, it must have been destroyed in the earthquake of the fifth century AD. The extant architectural members are kept in the Epidavros Archaeological Museum, while on the monument itself conservation work has been carried out on the foundations.
Dedicated to the dominant deity of the sanctuary, the Temple of Asklepios is the central building in the Asklepieion. It housed the chryselephantine statue of the healing god, who was represented enthroned with a dog at his side. In his hands he held a staff and a snake, from which the global symbol of Medicine and Pharmaceutics derives.
According to epigraphic testimonies, architect of the temple was Theodotos. The magnificent peripteral temple was built during the decade 380-370 BC, ushering in the major building programme of the Asklepieion. In the Doric order, it had six columns on the narrow sides and 11 on the long ones, 6 m. in height. The visitor entered the pronaos and from there the cella, which had an internal Corinthian colonnade. The floor was paved with flagstones of white and black marble.
From the moment he was born, he healed mortals. Indeed, he went so far as to bring the dead back to life, according to the myth of Asklepios, the philanthropic god who was compared later to the “healer of bodies and souls”, Jesus Christ. Old traditions place his birth in Thessalian Trikke and tell that he learnt the art of Medicine from the Centaur Cheiron. However, the Epidaurians believed that their land was his birthplace.
According to this version of the myth Asklepios was son of Apollo and Koronis, granddaughter of the King of Epidavros, Malas. As a new-born babe he was abandoned on Mount Titthion, by Koronis or her enraged father Phlegyas. Apollo sent a she-goat to suckle his son and a dog to guard him. The boy-child was found by the shepherd Aresthanas, while he was seeking for his lost she-goat.
The resurrection of the dead by Asklepios incurred the displeasure of Pluto. Indeed, he complained to Zeus that Asklepios would empty the Underworld and overturn the order of the universe.
Zeus was afraid and struck the demigod with his thunderbolt. Now it was Apollo’s turn to grouse to his father Zeus, about his own son. As usual, Zeus found a compromise solution. Asklepios would live, but in the Underworld, from where he could cure mortals.
The myth presents most eloquently the secret of the enkoimeses (incubation) in the Abaton, during which Asklepios cured the patient in his/her sleep. The god, through his death, became immortal and regained his vitalizing power. Hypnos (= Sleep), on the other hand, was brother of Thanatos (= Death). So, magically, sleep could function as death. Thus, the enkoimeses became the religious-ritual framework of therapeutic practice around Asklepios, imitating his descent into the earth in order to regain power and health.