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Information about the place (2)
The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites
Lisos. A small city on S coast of W Crete, on a remote bay named after the
chapel of Ag. Kyrkos, Selino district; it is E of Kastelli Selinou and W of Souyia.
Its early history is unknown. In the early 3d c. B.C. it had a coinage alliance
with its neighbors Elyros, Hyrtakina, and Tarrha. By the mid 3d c. it was a member
of the league of People of the Mountains (Oreioi) and probably the chief city;
the league lasted until the late 3d or early 2d c. The city is mentioned in ancient
coastal pilots ([Skylax] 47; Stadiasmus 332f) and geographies (Ptol. 3.15.3; Tab.
Peut. 8.5; Geogr. Rav. 5.21); later sources show it was a bishop's seat until
the 9th c. (Hierokles 650.16; Not. gr. episc. 8.239; 9.148). Coins of the 4th-3d
c. and the treaty of the Oreioi with King Magas of Kyrene indicate that the main
divinity of Lisos was Dictynna, but excavation has now revealed an important Sanctuary
Lisos was once thought to lie at Kastelli Selinou, but the correct
site was identified in the 19th c., and proved by discovery in the wall of the
chapel of Agios Kyrkos of a stone inscribed with the treaty between the Oreioi
and Magas. On the slopes W of the stream that crosses the small coastal plain
are remains of the necropolis, including many freestanding barrel-vaulted built
tombs; E of the stream are the ruins of the city, which was inhabited from at
least the Classical to the First Byzantine period, but apparently not reoccupied
after the Arab conquest. In antiquity the relative sea level was probably some
7.8 m higher; there would then have been the natural harbor attested by Skylax,
which could have served as one of the ports of inland Elyros (the main one being
Remains have been found of an aqueduct, a theater only 23.4 m in diameter,
and a large Roman bath building near the chapel of Agios Kyrkos at the back of
the plain. Under this chapel and that of the Panagia near the shore are the remains
of Early Christian basilicas. The city was small; it had little cultivable land
and was barely approachable except by sea.
The Sanctuary of Asklepios, however, which arose because of a spring
of curative water, is strikingly large. It was rediscovered after the unearthing
of votive statues near the chapel of Agios Kyrkos, and is the only area of the
city to be systematically excavated. The temple is a small, simple Doric temple
with walls of well-dressed polygonal masonry below and pseudo-isodomic above.
It has no pronaos, and the cella, paved with a fine polychrome mosaic, has a marble
podium at its rear for the cult statues. The water from the spring ran under the
paving to a fountain in the cella. In front of the building is a forecourt, and
on the W side an entrance portico from which steps led up to the temple. The building
seems to have been destroyed in an earthquake; parts of its superstructure were
found widely scattered. Nearby was a building used by priests or visitors. The
spring itself was approached by steps from the terrace; beside it was a large
This site has produced more sculpture than any in Crete except Gortyn.
Many of the heads of statues and statuettes were found in a heap some distance
away from the torsos; most of them represent Asklepios or Hygieia, or girls and
boys (presumably consecrated to the god). They are of Hellenistic and Roman date,
but the types are mostly Classical. A number of statue bases bear dedications
to Asklepios and Hygieia. The finds are in the Chania and Herakleion museums.
D. J. Blackman, ed.
This text is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites,
Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Nov 2002 from
Perseus Project URL below, which contains bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.
Lissos is located near Sougia, on the south coast of Crete, and can
be reached from Sougia through a path that climbs between the hills, or by a small
boat from Sougia. The path to Lissos starts from the harbour of Sougia and is
well-marked. The walk is very pleasant and after 20 minutes in a small gorge it
climbs left and the next bay that becomes visible is Agios, the ancient harbour
of Lissos. The walk is not difficult or long (1hr. 30 min.) but take water with
you as there are no facilities in Lissos. To go by boat you will have to make
your own arrangements in the village. In Lissos there are remains from the Greek
and Roman eras, as well as interesting Byzantine churches.
This text is cited Oct 2002 from the Crete TOURnet URL below, which contains image.
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