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The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites
Prinias (Ancient Rhizenia/Rhittenia)
A modern village near the site of an ancient city in central Crete.
The "patela" is a fiat-topped steep-sided acropolis (686 m) just N of
the main watershed and dominating the two main N-S passes across the E foothills
of Ida. Accessible only from the W, it had a mainly unfortified perimeter and
measures ca. 230 x 560 m. The site has generally been identified with Rhizenia/Rhittenia
(see Guarducci), but a plausible case has been made for Apollonia (Faure); either
way it was probably normally subject to Gortyn in Classical and Hellenistic times.
The excavations date to 1906-8 and since 1969.
Apart from a few Neolithic finds the earliest traces of occupation
are of the latest Minoan period (LM III); evidence of early post-Minoan occupation
has recently been increased by discovery at nearby Siderospilia of Proto-Geometric
tholos tombs with inhumations and a Geometric cremation cemetery. Also of these
periods is an important deposit of votive terracottas and vases found near the
E edge of the plateau, including types with antecedents of the end of the Minoan
period (female figures with cylindrical skirt and raised arms, sometimes with
snakes; tall clay tubes with vertical rows of loop handles). A small enclosure
found nearby against the rock formed the sanctuary of this snake-goddess, whose
cult seems to last from Subminoan to late archaic times.
The site's most important remains are of the archaic period. Roughly
in the middle of the plateau are the poorly preserved remains, close together,
of two 7th c. temples. The more northerly (A: 9.7 x ca. 6 m) has a nearly rectangular
elongated cella entered through a single door from a pronaos to the E with a single
central square pier in antis. In the center of the cella is a slab-lined rectangular
sacrificial pit on hearth, on each side of which stood a single (probably wooden)
column on the central longitudinal axis. Many pieces were found of the limestone
frieze (originally situated on the facade or at socle level) carved with horsemen
in relief, and of two (later?) female statues each seated on a chair on the end
of a sculpted architrave, probably from the upper part of the cella door (reconstr.
in Iraklion Mus.): major works of Daedalic art. Temple B to the S was built in
a similar technique but with dissimilar and less regular plan (ca. 18 x ca. 5.5
m); it had an opithodomos in addition, full of storage vessels, and both cella
and pronaos had a central door on the E. Like A the cella had a hearth with an
offering table at its W end, and a libation basin in the NW corner. Like the somewhat
earlier Dreros temple (q.v.), these temples represent an early type deriving from
the Mycenaean meganon with certain Minoan features added; the architectural order
is not yet cleanly defined. The cult seems not to have outlasted the archaic period.
A number of archaic house foundations have been found on the plateau.
At its SW side, W of the temples, is a rectangular Hellenistic (probably 2d c.)
fort, with square towers projecting from the corners, interior dimensions 40 x
36 m and entrance on the cliff edge at the SE corner. Reused in its walls were
blocks bearing early inscriptions and primitive (7th c.) funerary stelai incised
with a hoplite or female figure. Inside and round the fort were found many arrowheads
and other iron weapons, and sling-bullets of lead.
Inscribed sherds (2d c.) attest a cult of Athena. No coins have been
found at the site, which seems to have been gradually depopulated in the Hellenistic
period and has little sign of city life after the 2d c. B.C. If the site was Apollonia,
settlement probably largely moved to its port (of the same name) near modern Gazi,
just W of Iraklion.
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 1 image(s), bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.
Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)
- Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD)
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