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Information about the place (8)
The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites
About 475 sq. km in area, rugged, and of volcanic origin. The main
sites have been excavated. The two principal Classical cities are Hephaistia and
Myrina, on its N and W coasts respectively. It contains several important Bronze
Age sites, notably Poliochni (on the E coast), whose culture is closely related
to that of Troy. The pre-Classical inhabitants were described as Tyrsenoi, associated
by ancient writers with the Etruscans of Italy. The Athenian Miltiades took the
island at the end of the 6th c. B.C. After brief occupation by the Persians it
remained Athenian throughout antiquity, receiving cleruchs from Athens ca. 450
B.C. and with intermittent occupation by Hellenistic kings.
Hephaistia, the main city, occupies a peninsula site beside an almost
wholly landlocked harbor. The only above-ground remains explored are of a Graeco-Roman
theater, with its stage buildings and some houses of late antiquity, but the excavations
have recovered much of its pre-Greek Tyrsenian period. This includes a large cremation
cemetery, which is succeeded by Classical Greek burials in the 5th and 4th c.
B.C. and votive deposits from a pre-Greek sanctuary including terracottas in a
partly Hellenized style.
Myrina occupies a rocky peninsula site, with good harbors. There are
traces of its Classical fortifications, an archaic and Classical cemetery, and
inscriptions indicate a Sanctuary of Artemis.
Northeast of Hephaistia, at modern Chloe, a Sanctuary to the Kabeiroi
has been discovered, with inscriptions ranging in date from the 5th c. B.C. to
the 3d A.D. The sanctuary occupies two semicircular terraces within a circuit
wall. On the S terrace a three-roomed building is identified as the early telesterion,
with a structure in the central room surrounded by offering bases, probably intended
for the display of sacred objects to initiates. The upper terrace is mainly filled
by a large Hellenistic building, probably the later telesterion, with a 12-column
Doric facade, faced by a monumental stoa. Southwest of Hephaistia, at Mosychlos,
were the sources of Lemnian earth.
At Kaminia in the SE part of the island was found a stele (now in
the National Museum of Athens) inscribed in the Lemnian language, related by some
to Etruscan. At Komi, inland in the E half of the island, are remains of a Temple
of Herakles, referred to in an inscription.
The finds from Lemnos are in the National Museum of Athens and the
museum at Kastro (Myrina).
J. Boardman, 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.
Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities
(Lemnos). One of the largest islands in the Aegaean Sea, situated
nearly midway between Mount Athos and the Hellespont. Its area is about 180 square
miles. It was sacred to Hephaestus, who is said to have fallen here when he was
hurled down from Olympus. Hence the workshop of the god is sometimes placed in
this island. The legend appears to have arisen from the volcanic nature of Lemnos.
Its earliest inhabitants, according to Homer, were the Thracian Sinties, a name
which probably signifies "robbers," from sinomai. When the Argonauts
landed at Lemnos, they found it inhabited only by women who had murdered all their
husbands, and had selected Hypsipyle as their queen. By the Lemnian women some
of the Argonauts became the fathers of the Minyae, who inhabited the island till
they were expelled by the Pelasgians. Lemnos was conquered by one of the generals
of Darius; but Miltiades delivered it from the Persians, and made it subject to
Athens. Pliny speaks of a remarkable labyrinth in Lemnos, of which, however, no
remains are to be found at the present day.
This text is cited Oct 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
- Perseus: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities (1898)
Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)
Lemnos (Lemnos: Eth. Lemnios), one of the larger islands in the Aegaean
sea, situated nearly midway between Mount Athos and the Hellespont. According
to Pliny (iv. 12. s. 23), it lay 22 miles SW. of Imbros, and 87 miles SE. of Athos;
but the latter is nearly double the true distance. Several ancient writers, however,
state that Mount Athos cast its shadow upon the island. (Soph. ap. Schol. ad Theocr.
vi. 76; Plin. l. c.) Pliny also relates that Lemnos is 112 miles in circuit, which
is perhaps not far from the truth, if we reckon all the windings of the coast.
Its area is nearly 150 square miles. It is of an irregular quadrilateral shape,
being nearly divided into two peninsulas by two deep bays, Port Paradise on the
N., and Port St. Antony on the S. The latter is a large and convenient harbour.
On the eastern side of the island is a bold rock projecting into the sea, called
by Aeschylus Ermaion lepas Lemnou, in his description of the beacon fires between
Mount Ida and Mycenae, announcing the capture of Troy. (Aesch. Agam. 283; comp.
Soph. Philoct. 1459.) Hills, but of no great height, cover two-thirds of the island
; they are barren and rocky, and there are very few trees, except in some of the
narrow valleys. The whole island bears the strongest marks of the effects of volcanic
fire, the rocks, in many places, are like the burnt and vitrified scoria of furnaces.
Hence we may account for its connection with Hephaestus, who, when hurled from
heaven by Zeus, is said to have fallen upon Lemnos. (Hom. Il. i. 594.) The island
was therefore sacred to Hephaestus (Nicandr. Ther. 458; Ov. Fast. iii. 82), who
was frequently called the Lemnian god. (Ov. Met. iv. 185; Virg. Aen. viii. 454.)
From its volcanic appearance it derived its name of Aethaleia (Aithaleia, Polyb.
ap. Steph. B., and Etym. M. s. v. Aithale). It was also related that from one
of its mountains, called Moosuchlus (Mosuchlos), fire was seen to blaze forth.
(Antimach. ap. Schol. ad Nicandr. Ther. 472; Lycophr. 227; Hesych. s. v.) In a
village in the island, named Chorous, there is a hot-spring, called Thermia, where
a commodious bath has been built, with a lodging-house for strangers,who frequent
it for its supposed medicinal qualities. The name of Lemnos is said to have been
derived from the name of the Great Goddess, who was called Lemnos by the original
inhabitants of the island. (Hecat. ap. Steph. B. s. v.)
The earliest inhabitants of Lemnos, according to Homer, were the Sinties,
a Thracian tribe; a name, however, which probably only signifies robbers (from
sinomai). (Hom. Il. i. 594, Od. viii. 294; Strab. vii. p. 331, x. p. 457, xii.
p. 549.) When the Argonauts landed at Lemnos, they are said to have found it inhabited
only by women, who had murdered all their husbands, and had chosen as their queen
Hypsipyle, the daughter of Thoas, the former King of the island. Some of the Argonauts
settled here, and became by the Lemnian women the fathers of the Minyae (Minuai),
the later inhabitants of the island. The Minyae were driven out of the island
by the Tyrrhenian Pelasgians, who had been expelled from Attica. (Herod. iv. 145,
vi. 137 ; Apoll. Rhod. i. 608, seq., and Schol.; Apollod. i. 9. § 17, iii. 6.
§ 4.) It is also related that these Pelasgians, out of revenge, made a descent
upon the coast of Attica during the festival of Artemis at Brauron, and carried
off some Athenian women, whom they made their concubines; but, as the children
of these women despised their half-brothers born of Pelasgian women, the Pelasgians
murdered both them and their Athenian mothers. In consequence of this atrocity,
and of the former murder of the Lemnian husbands by their wives, Lemnian Deeds
(Lemnia erga) became a proverb throughout Greece for all atrocious acts. (Herod.
vi. 128; Eustath. ad Il. p. 158. 11, ad Dionys. Per. 347; Zenob. iv. 91.) Lemnos
continued to be inhabited by Pelasgians, when it was conquered by Otanes, one
of the generals of Darius Hystaspis (Herod. v. 26); but Miltiades delivered it
from the Persians, and made it subject to Athens, in whose power it remained for
a long time. (Herod. vi. 137; Thuc. iv. 28, vii. 57.) In fact, it was always regarded
as an Athenian possession, and accordingly the peace of Antalcidas, which declared
the independence of all the Grecian states, nevertheless allowed the Athenians
to retain possession of Lemnos, Imbros, and Scyros. (Xen. Hell. iv. 8. 15, v.
1. § 31.) At a later period Lemnos passed into the hands of the Macedonians, but
it was restored to the Athenians by the Romans. (Polyb. xxx. 18.)
In the earliest times, Lemnos appears to have contained only one town,
which bore the same name as the island (Hom. Il. xiv. 230); but at a later period
we find two towns, Myrina and Hephaestias. Myrina (Murina: Eth. Murinaios) stood
on the western side of the island, as we may infer from the statement of Pliny,
that the shadow of Mt. Athos was visible in the forum of the city at the time
of the summer solstice. (Plin. iv. 12. s. 23; Herod. vi. 140; Steph. B. s. v.;
Ptol.iii. 13. § 4.) On its site stands the modern Kastro, which is still the chief
town in the place. In contains about 2000 inhabitants; and its little port is
defended by a pier, and commanded by a ruinous mediaeval fortress on the overhanging
rocks. Hephaestias, or Hephaestia (Hephaistias, Hephaistia: Eth. Hephaistieus),
was situated in the northern part of the island. (Herod., Plin., Ptol. ll. cc.;
Steph. B. s. v.) There are coins of Hephaestia (see below), but none of Myrina,
and none bearing the name of the island. (Eckhel, vol. ii. p. 51.)
According to Pliny (xxxvi. 13. s. 19) Lemnos had a celebrated labyrinth,
supported by 150 columns, and with gates so well poised, that a child could open
them. Pliny adds, that there were still traces of it in his time. Dr, Hunt, who
visited the island in 1801, attempted to find out the ruins of this labyrinth,
and was directed to a subterraneous staircase in an uninhabited part of the island,
near a bay, called Porniah. He here found extensive ruins of an ancient and strong
building that seemed to have had a ditch round it communicating with the sea.
The edifices have covered about 10 acres of ground: there are foundations of an
amazing number of small buildings within the outer wall, each about seven feet
square. The walls towards the sea are strong, and composed of large square blocks
of stone. On an elevated spot of ground in one corner of the area, we found a
subterraneous staircase, and, after lighting our tapers, we went down into it.
The entrance was difficult: it consisted of 51 steps, and about every twelfth
one was of marble, the others of common stone. At the bottom is a small chamber
with a well in it, by which probably the garrison was supplied: a censer, a lamp,
and a few matches, were lying in a corner, for the use of the Greek Christians,
who call this well an Agiasma, or Holy Fountain, and the ruins about it Panagia
Coccipee. The peasants in the neighbourhood had no knowledge of, any sculpture,
or statues, or medals having ever been found there. It does not appear, however,
that these ruins have any relation to the labyrinth mentioned by Pliny; and Dr.
Hunt thinks that they are probably those of the citadel of Hephaestias.
The chief production of the island, was a red earth called terra Lemnia
or sigillata, which was employed by the ancient physicians as a remedy for wounds
and the bites of serpents; and which is still much valued by the Turks and Greeks
for its supposed medicinal virtues. It is dug out of a hill, made into small balls,
and stamped with a seal containing Arabic characters.
The ordinary modern name of the island, is Stalimene (eis tan Lemnon),
though it is also called by its ancient name.
There were several small islands near Lemnos, of which the most celebrated
was Chruse, where Philoctetes was said to have been abandoned by the Greeks. According
to Pausanias, this island was afterwards swallowed up by the sea, and another
appeared in its stead, to which the name of Hiera was given. (Eustath ad Hom.
Il. ii. p. 330; Appian, Mithr. 77; Paus. viii. 33. § 4.) (Rhode, Res Lemnicae,
Vratisl. 1829; Hunt, in Walpole's Travels, p. 54, seq.)
This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited August 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
- Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD)
Perseus Project index
Lemnos, Lemnian, Lemnians
- Lemnos: Perseus Lookup Tool, text search
- Lemnians: Perseus Lookup Tool, text search
- Lemnian: Perseus Lookup Tool, text search
- Perseus: Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary
- Lemnos: Perseus Lookup Tool
Non commercial Web-Sites
Limnos Medical Association
- Limnos Medical Association WebPage
- Municipality of Moudros WebPage