Fifteen minutes later, I was still fielding questions as the girls desperately looked for ways around this evil rule.
They were shocked.
The dedication is obviously a coming-of-age ritual. A maiden puts away her childish things before she becomes a wife. Or more accurately, it worked like this:
When a girl was born she was a kore, which means maiden. When she's betrothed she becomes a nymphe, and nymphe she remains until motherhood, when she became a gyne.
It's not quite the same as the maid, the mother, and the crone that's commonly found in neo-pagan beliefs. But kore-nymphe-gyne was the true progression that the Greeks used, and the dividing lines are marriage and motherhood. The dedication of the toys was part of the transformation. The girl went to the temple, no doubt with her family, where in a ceremony she placed her toys somewhere within the temple, then she left without them; no longer a girl, but a young woman.
Based on the persistence of the girls I spoke to, I have no doubt there was more than one favourite doll that went missing at age 13, that magically reappeared at age 16. There were probably some other brilliant schemes to save toys. But in general the girls seem to have followed the rules. There are a few surviving dedications which we can read today. The clearest I know of is this one:
Timareta, the daughter of Timaretus, before her wedding, has dedicated to you, Artemis of the Lake, her tambourine and her pretty ball, and the net that kept up her hair, and her dolls too, and their dresses; a virgin's gift, as is fit, to a virgin goddess.