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Poliochni

The first organized city in Europe.

About 5500 years ago, farmers and stockbreeders that cultivated the land and grazed their flocks in the eastern part of Limnos, built a settlement next to the sea, in a magical cove, overlooking the entryway of the rising sun. Across the coast, a thousand years later the legendary city of Troy would be built.

In time, the settlement flourished and at its era of prosperity, skillfully designed streets, water pipes that collected rainwater and squares for the forums indicate the existence of a fully organized society. A great hall with spacious benches and a rostrum in the center implies a democratic organization. This famous “parliament” was built to house the representatives of the community while they decided for the common good..

Excavations have uncovered layers upon layers of habitation, built on top of each other. For 2000 years the city flourished and a treasure of gold jewelry, found buried in a vessel, testifies to the power, wealth, fine taste and advanced technical knowledge the city had at the time. Today it is held as an exhibit at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens and has a lot in common with the infamous “Priam’s Treasure “ found in Troy by Heinrich Schliemann.

Another one of the most notable findings of Poliochni are clay bowls with a tall cylindrical body and two curved handles , the “amfikypelon depas” , a typical type of cup of Troy.   

The decline of Poliochni would ensue after repeated seismic disasters around 1600 BC, 400 years before the fall of Troy.

Stroll through the olive trees and laurels of the area , walk its alleys as the residents of Poliochni did thousands of years ago , and visit the small museum that houses an informative scaled model of the city at the time as well as findings such as utensils , that reconstitute the everyday life in Poliochni of times past. More findings from Poliochni can be seen in the Archaeological Museum of Myrina.


 

Sanctuary of Kaveires –Cave of Philoctetes

Mystical beauty.

Two slopes on the slope of a low hill that descends steeply to the sea. A stone watchtower with blooming oleanders. Doric columns, perfectly aligned. These give testament to the importance the area held for about 12 centuries.

The ancient Lemnians had dedicated one of the most beautiful spots on the island to worship the Cabeiri. These deities of flowering and fertility were, according to many ancient writers sons of Hephaestus and connected their existence with the island that was dominated by the worship of the God of Fire.

Not much is known about the rituals or even the majority of the mystical rites that took place in ancient times. It is known however that the inhabitants of Limnos performed rituals at the sanctuary of Cabeiri for 8th century B.C. to the late 3rd and early 4th century A.D. The definitive end of the sanctuary is connected with the definitive prevalence of Christianity, and the destructive fury of the first Christians.

Today, apart from the preserved Doric columns that give us a clear picture of the Hellenistic rituals, remain also a few important relics from the archaic and Late Roman rituals.

The cave of Philoctetes complements the beauty of the area. At the sea, right below the sanctuary lies the famous cave where, according to mythology, Odysseus, on his way to Troy abandoned Philoctetes, gravely ill after the bite of a venomous snake. According to tradition, he was cured by the Lemnian terra and at some point the entire outcome depended on whether he would deliver his weapons to Odysseus. The tragic play by Sophocles, “Philoctetes”, connects this mythos with eternal ethnical issues of the time. It is worth attempting a descent into the cave, for a glance at mythology and the sea of Homeric heroes, though be wary of the rocky trail.


 

Hephaestia

“Limnos: an island toward Thrace that has two cities, Hephaestia and Myrina”.

Hephaestia was a city dedicated to Hephaestus, and in ancient times stood as the second most important city in the island along Myrina. Excavations brought to light remains of its former residents, a cemetery and an extended sanctuary that was, based on historical evidence, dedicated to the Great Goddess of Limnos.

Two ceramic ovens were discovered near the sanctuary, evidence of the existence of a pottery shop in the area, a testament to the timeless pottery tradition of the island.

At around 300BC the inhabitants of Hephaestia selected a hillside overlooking the horizon of the sea touching the sky and on that land they build a theater to delight their spirits. Built with local stone, this theater was recently restored and is used during the summer months for performances and concerts, offering magical evenings to its guests.

Alluvial deposits that altered the appearance and functionality of the harbor of Hephaestia were most likely the cause of the city’s deterioration and subsequent relocation of its Venetian residents to the neighboring harbor of Kotsinas, who converted it to a trade hub for Northern Limnos.

Rich findings from the archaeological site can be seen in the Archaeological Museum of Myrina with clay statuettes of sirens and a plate with a representation of Potnias Thiron with two lions being the top exhibits.


 

Sanctuary of Artemis

In ancient times the goddess Artemis was the patron goddess of the city of Myrina.

The Lemnians built a temple in her honor, just outside the city, where according to legend, a huge goat appeared to hikers at dusk. Today, this small archaeological site is located within the hotel complex Porto Myrina Hotel. A large paved central courtyard that was outdoors has been excavated, along with various utility rooms that were used by the priests.

At the northwestern end of the courtyard, excavators found a rectangular room which includes desks and resembled a gathering place. It is believed to be closely associated with initiation ceremonies of believers.

Findings from the excavation are on display in the Archaeological Museum of Myrina. Among the exhibits, an impressive skeleton of a sacrificed bull.


 

Richa Nera - prehistoric Myrina

How many thousands of years has this city been inhabited for? How far back did people walk in those streets, created, dreamt and overlooked the same sea?

At the exact point that the island’s capital now stands, archaeological excavations have discovered the first signs of habitation from the mid of the 4th millennium B.C. The extended prehistoric settlement covered the northern part of the city of today, from the hill of the Officers Club and the Metropolis estate to the low hill near the beach of Richa Nera. Here lies the open archaeological site that reveals just a little information about the ancient city. Many secrets yet remain buried beneath contemporary Myrina, which is built on top of the ancient one.

In Richa Nera, next to Romeikos Gialos, you’ll walk the paths of the prehistoric inhabitants of Myrina, see the foundations of their houses and hopefully imagine the way they used to moor their boats in this safe island harbor.

Excavation findings on display at the city’s Archaeological Museum reveal details about their daily lives. Cooking utensils, storage jars for nuts, stone mortars, tools for weaving, hunting and agriculture and dozens of other precious objects that tell of the way people in Limnos used to organize their lives 5.500 years ago.  


 

Excavation at Louri

At the beach of Louri, on the southeast edge of the island, there is a major excavation in progress. The indications so far refer to the remnants of the oldest human settlement ever found in the Aegean.

Primary findings suggest an installation for hunters, food collectors and fishermen from 12.000 B.C. which, according to archaeologists overturn the preexisting evidence of human presence in the Aegean.

This site of archeological interest was detected in 2007 during the configuration of an outdoor parking space for the visitors of the beautiful beach.


 

Excavation at Koukonisi

On Koukonisi, a small island on the eastern side of the bay of Moudros, there is an ongoing archaeological excavation by the Lemnian archaeologist Christos Bouliotis. At the top of the island, an important prehistoric settlement has been identified, that had been inhabited throughout many centuries, from Early to Late Bronze Age.

Findings lead to the conclusion that 4,500 years ago, an organized society existed in this spot, which gradually became equal to Poliochni or Myrina. Apart from agricultural and livestock activity, the residents occupied themselves also with wool processing, weaving, stone carving, pottery, and stone art. This ancient settlement in Koukonisi developed commercial ties with other Aegean Islands, Thessaly and the Minor Asia coast. Evidence suggests that it was destroyed by a wildfire.

It is connected to Limnos by 400m of raised road. Even though the excavation is not open to the public, a tour on this small islet where at 2,500 BC people organized their times and created a remarkable civilization is time well spent.

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