THE ANCIENT CITIES OF CRETE
Dion. At Phodele. Based on Pliny, we may assume that the city was at Mesara by the Magnetes, since there is city with the same name in Thessaly
Doulopolis. In Crete, four villages have similar name. Those villages are Apodoulou at Ambadia Amariou, Douli at Megali Vrysi Monofatsiou, Douliana at Vamos Apokoronou and Sklavopoula Selinou a road network, t Chania prefecture. The most probable location of the ancient city is Sklavopoula Selinou. “City of slaves (Doulon polis)… there is in Crete a city named Doulopolis and has one thousand men…”Stef. Byzantios.
“Doulon polis…there is in Crete Doulopolis as Sosikrates says in his book “the Cretan issues”” Soudas.
Dragmos. Between Itanos and Praisos. In inscription that was found at Itanos and is referred to 58-57 BC, near Diktaion Andron, cites the city.
Stefanos Byzantios says: “Dragmos. It is city of Crete. As Xenion says in his book “The Cretan Issues”, the national adjective is Dragmios or Dragmites.”
Diktaion Temple was under the rule of the city. In c.3rd century, Praisos vanquished Dragmos and thus the Temple became under the rule of Praisos. Later Ierapytna vanquished Praisos and the Temple was under the rule of Ierapytna.
The area where Dragmos located seems to be completely inviolated the settlement is on the coast-side plain of Rousolakkos. The city was 30000 square metres. It was the second larger city (after Knossos) in Crete.
Cemeteries and single tombs have been discovered in the surrounding area; at Sarandari, Aspa, Patima, Petsofa and Kastri hills, near the villages Agathia, Agia Triada and Agios Antonios. A shrine has been discovered on the top of Petsofa hill. In the north, there was also a cavern. Kastri hill and the cape were the acropolis of the city. The gravel-stone pits were at Skaria location. Gravel was very common building material. Thewhich was constructed in Old palaces period, was linking the city with many other Minoan centres. In the end of the Old palaces period, the city was destructed and reconstructed. The reconstructed city was very well organised, in the Mid-minoan IIIB/ Postminoan IA period.
The Neopalatial city is a very characteristic example of Minoan urban design of large roads and blocks. In the Postminoan IA phase, the city was destroyed by earthquake. This earthquake might be part of the Thera volcano upheaval in 1628 BC. The city was again reconstructed after the fire disaster in 1500 BC.
In the early Postminoan IIIB phase, the city was gradually vacated. The last settlements were only at Kastri in the Postminoan IIIC period. After that period, the city was totally vacated.
However, the area was dedicated to Diktaian Zeus. There was also built the temple of Zeus, in the geometric, over the Minoan buildings of block X. In the Roman period, the cult of Zeus revived. At the position of the temple, there has been found inscription with “The hymn to the Diktaian Zeus”. Naked shield-holders young men, who were imitating Kouretes, sang the hymn. The tablet is inscribed in both sides. The text of both sides is the same with some tiny differences. The scholars believe that the scrivener made some mistakes and thus he rewrote the text on the other side. The context of the text is invocation to Diktaian Zeus who visits mount Dikte with the Kouretes every year. They glorify the goods and the omnipotence of Zeus and they invocate him to bring them happiness, fertility to their land and protect the army and the navy.
It is believed that the cult in the temple was not mystic and the artefacts testify that the cult was continuous from the Geometric period to the Roman dominion. According to the excavation information, the Christians of late 4th century AD, destroyed the temple due to their fanaticism against the paganistic religion.
There have been found very few artefacts: ornamental edge tile of Medusa, terracotta tables with representation of warrior-charioteer and a dog, four bronze shields, tripods, cups, idols and armour models. Outside the temple, there was found a shrine. This ancient city, like Arkadia, Kantanos, Elyros, Inatos and Olous, were places where foreigners could settle. It is assumed this city was Dreros.
The British Archaeological School at Athens excavated Palaiokastro (perhaps Dragmos). In the first excavations period (1902-1908), the British archaeologists unearthed the high street, large houses in the city centre, the temple of Diktaian Zeus, cemeteries and other houses in the outskirts of the city and on top of Petsofa hill. The precinct, the altar, and other architectonic parts of the temple have been excavated. The altar was covered with ash. There were also found slates from the roof of the temple, with martial chariots, a terracotta lion, which testifies the cult of Rhea, and the “Hymn to Cretogenes (of Cretan birth) Zeus”, inscribed on table that was smashed into pieces by the Christians. In the second excavation period (1962-1963), block N and Minoan relics at Kastri were excavated. In the third excavations period (since 1986) some buildings of the northern part of the city were cleaned. In 1983, the area was studied topographically and magnetically.
The Greek Archaeological Office excavated the area in the period 1971-1972. The Greek archaeologists unearthed one incinerator, two houses in the eastern part of the city and more objects from Petsofa. In more recent excavations (1987-1990), English archaeologists discovered pieces of half metre statue made of gold and ivory. The statue is known as The Kouros of Palaiokastro and is exhibited at Museum of Siteia. In the 2nd World War, the German bombs ruined the archaeological area. In addition, in the same war, Joseph Borsari, Italian infantry captain of Sienna division, destroyed the ancient city totally and on purpose (August 1942). He forced the peasants to remove all the stones from the ruins.
Dreros. Agios Antonios hill; in the east to Neapoli at Merambelo. The city was known only by the grammatical rule of Theognostos: “the main or common nouns of two syllables that end in –eros, whatever their declension, are written with heta e , like Seros and Dreros, which is Cretan city”.
In December 1955, a farmer found at Chorais location, between Neapoli and Phourni Merambelou, an inscription. Hence, they detected the city and a lot of information came up on the history of the area. The ruins are expanded in two hills. On the top of the one hill, there is the chapel of Saint Antonio and is called Chorais. It is doubtful whether the coins that have been found belonged to that city. There is a high mountain between Dreros and Milatos. This mountain is Timios Stavros and was called Kadiston.
We can learn the history of the city based on inscriptions and memorials. The excavations have unearthed almost the whole city of Dreros and its cemetery. There are no Minoan signs in the area and the earlier signs are Postminoan. It seems that Dreros was one of the Cretan cities (Brokastro, Kabousi, and Prinias) that were built after the invasion of the Dorians and the so-called “Nations of the Sea”. All those cities have fortifications.
Dreros flourished in the geometric and archaic periods. The ruins that have been preserved belong to the period 8th-6th centuries BC. In addition, many inscriptions from the area belong to the same period. One of those inscriptions is “the sacred law of Dreros”, the older law that we have. Actually, this is the legislation of the city that was composed in the 7th century BC. In this period, all the Greek cities compose their legislation in the way that they establish their constitution. According to the philological tradition, Crete was pioneer area of Greece in establishing constitutions. The Dreros inscription is the most ancient element that testifies that.
We know nothing about Dreros of the Classical period. There are now buildings from this period and thus we may assume that in 5th-4th centuries BC, was vacated or in great decline. In the 3rd century BC, Dreros was ally to Knossos and enemy to Lyttos and Milatos. In the 3rd century inscription of the Oath of Drerian Youths, we can see how much the citizens of Dreros hated their neighbours.
The inscription is now exhibited at the Epigraphic Museum of Constantinople. The text of the oath is in Dorian dialect and in the archaic way “epi kyrbeos”; that is in quadrilateral rotate column. The context of the oath shows the external enmities of the city but also the internal problems. For this reason, the column of the oath was placed at the forum of the city. Also, according to other inscriptions, the constitution of the city becomes more democratic and the relationship of Dreros with Milatos is improved.
We do not know what happened to the city in the 2nd century BC. It is strange that Dreros is not in the thirty cities that signed the decree with Eumenes B’ in 183 BC.
Is seems that since the 2nd century BC, Dreros is under the rule of Knossos or Lyttos.
In the Roman period, the Roman army builds walls with tower at the eastern hill. The main divinities of the city were Delphian Apollo and Poliouchos Athena. Athena is on some coins from the Hellenistic period. On the one side, we have the head of the goddess and on the other the letters DR.
The most important artefacts from the excavations, apart from the inscriptions, are three bronze statues from the archaic period (found by peasants in 1935) and a stone gorgoneion that Xanthoudidis found in 1917
Eileithyias or Koutsouras cave. It is located at Koprana or Mafeze Pediados location, 9 kilometres from Herakleion to Episkopi. It has stalagmites, pillars and lakes. Goddess Eileithyia, daughter of Zeus and Hera, and mother of Eros, was worshiped here. She was matron of pregnant women and goddess of motherhood. The artefacts found in the cave (Neolithic, Protominoan, Midminoan, Roman etc) testify long period use of the cave
Einatos. Tsoutsouros Monofatsiou. Port of Priansos. Einatos or Inatos or Einaton. Small town of Crete, in the south coastline of the island, at Tsoutsouros bay (borders of Herakleion-Lasithi prefectures). There were found ancient ruins, part of which is under the sea. Earlier coidentity of Einatos with Ini village is wrong.
At Einatos, they used to worship Einatian or Binatian Eileithyia. The temple of the goddess was probably on the top of the hill, where chapel of Agia Eleni is now built. Here, like at Karteros (Amnisos), there is the cave of Eileithyia. The Greek archaeologists N.Platon and K.Davaras found that in the cave there are geometric, Greek and Roman layers. There were found geometric votive objects, placed in hollows, and Neopalatial stone altar and signets. The geometric artefacts have representations of erotic couples, or they are terracotta idols of pregnant women, nannies, small and large bronze double axes, models of ships etc. The garment that was offered to the goddess was decorated with golden rosettes. There were also found bronze pins, barrettes, necklaces made of faience and mountain crystals, that remind us the Homeric hymn to Apollo. A tablet that is made of bone has the representation of a naked goddess, and a terracotta table has relief lions around the tree of life. The Roman statue of Niobides and an inscribed hermaic stele of the 3rd century AD are also from Eitanos.
In the catalogue of Ierokles and the ancient inscriptions, the city is also referred as Binatos.
The ancient authors write: 1. Einatos was place of Lykia or Crete (Hesychius).
2. Einatos. City of Crete, as Xenion says. The national adjective is Einatios. Some others say that it is mountain or river, where they worship Eileithyia Einatia (Stefanos Byzantios).
Elaia. Gramvousa Kisamou. Pliny (4, 12, 57, and 58) says that it is in Crete. There is a village with the same name Elia Pediados at Herakleion prefecture.
Eleftherai. Probably Eleftherna. “Eleftherai. It was city of Boiotia, which took its name by the name of Eleftheros Apollo. There is also another city in Crete that took its name by Elefthera, one of the Kouretes, which was also called Saoros by the name of nymph Saora…, the citizen is called Elefthereus or Eleftheraios.” Stef. Byzantios.
Eleftherna. North by west to the village Prinies Mylopotamou. Eleftherna is one of the most important cities of ancient Crete. It is built at the hill called Lefterna. The city is also called Elefthera and Eleftherai. Earlier names are the Pelasgic Santra (Satra), Aoros by nymph Aora, and Apollonia by Apollo. However, the city is known as Eleftherna by Eleuthous Demeter. We do not know when the city was established. Pendlebury discovered Postminoan, protogeometric and many Roman relics.
It is believed that the city was established in the Geometric period (c.970-820 BC). The habitants were farmers, merchants, and sailors. The port of the city was Pantomatrio and Eleftherna was marine superpower.
The city had special relationship with Ptolemean dynasty and the statue of Ptolemy Euergetes (247-221 BC) was placed in the city. Eleftherna was contestant with Knossos. However, in the civil war of 220 BC among the Cretan cities, Eleftherna and Knossos were allies. When there was lain siege against the two cities by the opposite federation of Cretan cities, Achaeans and Macedonians, they were forced to join them. The city voted for the immunity of the temple of Dionysos at Teo. In 170 BC, Eleftherna was one of the thirty cities that allied with Eumenes B’.
During the Roman dominion by Caecilius Metellus, the citizens, being confident for their fortifications, resisted to the Roman troops bravely. The city was vanquished by the Romans due to some betrayers. Eleftherna had prosperity after the Roman dominion even until the first Byzantine period, when the Bishopric of Eleftherna is cited at the 4th Ecumenical Synod in 451 AD. In the early 9th century AD, the Arabs ruined the city. We assume that based on the Praktikon of Basileios Boulgaroctonos (980 AD), which cites Bishop of Aulopotamou and not Elefthernas.
Diogenes the Apollonian, who was Physician, was from Eleftherna. He was philosopher of 5th century BC and pupil of Anaximenes. From Eleftherna were also Ametor, lyre player of erotic songs, the poet Linnos, the sculptor Timochares, and the player of the hydraulics, Antipatros.
Eleftherna was independent city and thus had its own coins. On the one side of the coins we have Styrakites Apollo seated on a rock, holding a sphere and a bow. On the other side, we see Artemis as hunter, with her quiver, bow and dog. The dialect that was used in Eleftherna had many predoric linguistic elements.
In Eleftherna, there have been discovered many inscriptions with jural context on the relationship of artists with the society. In the excavations, there were also found geometric, Classical and Hellenistic idols and signs of the zodiac. One of the most important artefacts is the upper part of the body of a statue made of limestone. This statue represents a dressed woman and is famous as “The lady of Eleftherna”. It is daedalic figure and reminds us “The lady of Auxerre”.
The lady of Auxerre is small Cretan statuette (0.65 metres) that represents a woman wearing Cretan mantle. It is also made of limestone. It used to be exhibited at the small French town of Auxerre, but now it is at Museum of Louvre. Because of the similarity between the two statues, some scholars assume that The lady of Auxerre is from Eleftherna as well.
“Eleftherna is city of Crete that took its name by the name of one of the Kouretes. The citizens are called Elefthernaioi and Eleftherneus” Stef. Byzantios.
Ellotis. Gortys. “Ellotis. Gortys was called Ellotis, because the Kouretes were calling Europe with this name” Stef. Byzantios.
Eltynia. Kounavoi Pediados. Eltynia or Eltyna or Eltynaia was autonomous city of Crete. We know the existence and the autonomy of the city by the inscription of the decree between Cretan cities and Eumenes B’, that Halbherr discovered. The inscription cites the Eltynaians, after the Elyrians and the Yrtakinians, and before the Aradenians. Therefore, it is assumed that the city might be at Selinou province. It is also written that Knossos appended the city; so, it might be located near Knossos. Another version is that it is located at Kounavoi village. In 1918, when the road Kounavoi- Zagourianoi was under construction, there was found at Kounavoi an inscription where we can read the words “Eltynaieis” and “Eltynieis.” This inscription table is 2.5 metres long and has eleven verses. It is part of the law on the household and it is of the same period that the Great Inscription of Gortys was composed.
The ruins of the city are expanded among the locations Zagourianous, Kenderi or Zagouras, and Ellenika. There are unearthed some architectonic parts (Doric capital) of public buildings, inscriptions, relief tables with representations of cavalry fighting with a dragon. Although the tables are of the same period, there are not similar. In addition, although they do not belong to the Christian times, but to the Hellenistic-Roman period, those images remind us the image of Saint George fighting the dragon. In the same area, there were found shells, terracotta jars, a ceramic oven, and other vessels.
There might by pottery workshop and warehouse of inscription tables. In 1967, an important relief burial stele was found. This stele has the image of a woman holding flowers and garland. It is one of the few early Classical statues from Crete (490 BC).
In the cemetery, there were unearthed very important pieces of pottery that are exhibited at the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion.
Elyros. In the east to the village Rodovani Selinou, at Kefala hill. It was the most important city of southwestern Crete. Apollo, Phylakides and Philandros, sons of Apollo and nymph Akakallida, were worshiped there. The citizens of Elyros sent to Delphi oracle, a bronze votive complex that represents a goat feeding the sons of Apollo when they were infants. Syia and Lissos at Agios Kyrkos were the ports of the city. It is also one of the thirty cities that signed the decree with Eumenes B’ in 183 BC.
Pashley was the first who identified the location of the city, near village Rodovani. Thenon studied more carefully the ruins of the city and discovered the inscription that says: “it seemed to the city of the Elyrians”.
“Elyros is city of Crete as Xenion says in his book The Cretan issues. The citizen is called Alyrios.” Stef. Byzantios.
Eronos (or Erranos). Papoura at Lasithi. The city is known by the decrees between the Cretan cities and Teo of Ionia on the immunity of the Temple of Dionysos. One of those cities is Erannos that has many temples. One temple is that of Asclepios. The city signed also the decree with Eumenes B’. The citizens were called Erannioi or Eronioi.
Ertaia. This city of Crete was autonomous and had its own coins. We know the existence of the city by an inscription found in Knossos. The citizens were called Ertaioi.
Glamia. Hesychius says that the Cretans call one city like that.
Glenos. The city must be colony of Magnetes. Therefore, it might have been at Mesara. There is another city with the same name in Thessaly.
Gortyn. Gortys at Mesara. Gortyn or Gortyna or Gortys or Kortys (= powerful) is ancient city of Crete, built at the banks of Lethaios River, now called Mitropolianos. It was at Mesara plain, near the village Agioi Deka. It took its name by Gortyna, son of Tegeates from Arcadia or of Rhadamanthios. According to the ancient tradition, Gortys was also called Hellotis, Larisa and Kremnia. In the Iliad 2.646, Homer calls the city “Gortyna surrounded with walls” According to Strabo (1.478)
Gortys was the second powerful city after Knossos. It was located in plain and there might be ancient walls, which the city demolished later and remained without fortification. Strabo also informs us that Ptolemy the Philopator started building the walls around Gortyna, but he did not finish this work. In the Classical period, Gortyna was prosperous, powerful and lawful, according to Plato in his work Laws . In addition, sometimes Gortyna was fighting against and sometimes for Knossos. In the 3rd century BC, the Gortynians rushed land of Phaistos (and the port of Phaistos, Matalos; now Matala). Matalos and Leben were the two ports of Gortys in the Libyan Sea.
According to mythology, Zeus, when he was transformed to bull, abducted Europe, daughter of Agenor from Phoenicia. He brought her to Crete and led her by Lethaios River to Gortys. The citizens of Gortys established the Ellotia festival on the honour of Europe. The majority of the Gortynian coins have the representation of Europe seated on a bull.
During the civil war between the Achaian and Aetolian Federation, the Gortynians fought with the Romans, when they intervened. When Crete submitted to Caecilius Metellus in 68 BC, all the Cretan cities, including Knossos, were ruined apart from Gortys. The development of the city was favoured by the Romans, who were considering Gortys the capital city of the island. Also, Gortys became densely populated and seat of the Roman commander. There are many ruins, remaining of this period. Gortys was the first city of Crete that acceded to Christianity. The first bishop of Gortyn, Titus, was from there. Also, during the victimisation by Decius (250 AD) Agioi Deka (The Ten Saints) martyred at Alonion, which was renamed to Agioi Deka. Five of them were from Gortyn: Theodoulos, Satornilos, Euporos, Gelasios, and Eunikanos. The rest five saints were Pompios from Lebena, Agathopous from Panormo, Basileides from Cydonia, Zotikos from Knossos and Euarestos from Herakleion. The first churches of Crete were built in Gortyn. One of them is the Metropolitan church of Saint Titus. The city was in great flourishing during the Byzantine period, until the Arabic dominion in 863 AD. The area was inhabited until the years of the Venetian dominion.
The city was located between the villages Agioi Deka and Mitropoli at Kainourgio. Strabo says that the diameter of Gortys was fifty stadia. The area was excavated by Halbherr who, among many treasures and structures, unearthed the famous Laws of Gortyn inscription. The centre of the city was called Pythion. The musician Euphranor was from Gortyn.
“Gortyna was city of Crete, which took its name by the name of the hero Gortys. In the past the city was called Ellotis (because the Cretans were calling Europe with this name), later it was called Larissa, then Kremnia and finally Gortys or Gortyn or Gortyna” Stef. Byzantios.
“Gortyne was called the city, and Gortynian the one who was from this place.” Soudas.
Gournia. Minoan city in northeastern Crete, near Merambelou Gulf. We do not know the Minoan name of the city. Far away from the palaces of the period, it was at Isthmos in Ierapetra. The port of the city was at Pacheia Ammos. The cemeteries of the city were at the coastal area of Sfougaras. It is the only area that has so many important and interesting elements on the organisation of the residential structure and the daily life of Neopalatial and postpalatial Minoan period. The settlement is on a hill, near the sea and is organised in three levels. On the top of the hill, there is a palace. This palace is not very large and consists of a central court, halls, warehouses, and workshops. In the north of the palace, there is one small temple, characteristic example of postpalatial architecture. The well-preserved stone stairs and signs of wooden stairs testify that some houses had second floor. In many houses, the soffit of side lower house is used as parapet. This is common in the Greek countryside even today. The mobile artefacts form the excavations are beautiful colourful pottery with decoration themes of marine life, terracotta sarcophagi etc. those things give an impressive idea of the Neopalatial art. The best view of the city is from the east. From there, you can see the well-preserved houses and the streets of the city.
Grammion. Pashley and Kiepert place the city where the ruins of Erimoupoli are, in the eastern coast Siteia province, at Palaiokastro gulf. “Grammion. It is city in Crete and the citizens are called Grammitai or Grammisioi…” Stef. Byzantios.
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