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Aigina  

Margaret Lyttleton, Stefan Hiller, R. A. Tomlinson, Reinhard Stupperich and Melita Emmanuel

[Aegina]

Greek island in the Saronic Gulf of the Aegean Sea, mid-way between Athens to the north and Argos to the west. It is almost triangular, occupying c. 85 sq. km. The interior is mountainous, rising to a peak of 531 m, and the soil is largely infertile. Aigina is conspicuously visible from the Athenian port of Peiraeus, although Pericles’ description of it as ‘the eyesore of the Peiraeus’ (Plutarch: Pericles, viii) stemmed from political rivalry rather than its actual appearance. The main modern settlement (Aegina) is in the north-west of the island, occupying part of the site of the ancient town of Aigina, which it has entirely obliterated, apart from the remains of some tombs. Outside the town there are two important sanctuaries, that of Zeus and that of Aphaia, a local goddess. The city-state of Aigina was important in the 7th and 6th centuries bc, when it took part in many Greek trading ventures and developed the largest navy in Greece. Aigina was for a long time a rival of Athens and was finally defeated in a naval battle in ...

Article

Butrint  

T. F. C. Blagg

[It. Butrinto; anc. Gr. Bouthroton; Lat. Buthrotum]

Site in southern Albania, set on a hill beside a coastal lagoon connected to the sea by a natural channel. The city flourished in Greek, Roman, and Byzantine times. Excavation and display of its extensive and deserted remains, begun by the Italians in 1928, have been continued by Albanian archaeologists; finds are displayed in the site museum (renovated 1988) and in the National Historical Museum, Tiranë. It was probably a colony of Kerkyra (Corfu), from which its site is visible. Earliest occupation on the hilltop is shown by Corinthian pottery of the 7th–6th centuries bc and a wall of polygonal masonry, rebuilt in the 5th century bc. By the following century the expanding city required new walls, which survive up to 9 m high and include the Lion Gate, named after the Archaic relief reused as its lintel (6th century bc). Butrint became a centre for the surrounding Epirot people, the ...

Article

Chios  

Jenny Albani and Margaret Lyttleton

[anc. Pityoussa]

Greek island lying 8 km off the coast of Turkey and 56 km south of Lesbos in the Eastern Sporades. One of the larger Greek islands, it is 48 km long north–south and 13–24 km wide east–west, with a mountain range running the length of the island; it has a population of nearly 100,000. Its most impressive architectural remains belong to the Early Christian, Byzantine and Genoese periods. The principal museums, in Chios city, are the Archaeological Museum, the Adamantios Korais Library and the Ethnological and Folklore Museum.

The earliest evidence of settlement is the Neolithic level uncovered by the British School at Athens during excavations (1952–5) of the harbour town of Emporio. According to tradition the island was colonized by the Ionians in the 11th century bc, and it is claimed to be the birthplace of Homer (c. 800 bc). In the 6th and 5th centuries ...

Article

Corfu  

Margaret Lyttleton, R. A. Tomlinson and Helen Angelomatis-Tsougarakis

[Gr. Kerkyra]

Greek island approximately 3 km off the west coast of Albania, the second largest of the Ionian group. About 64×32 km in area, it is mountainous in the north and fertile in the south. Settlement may be traced to the 6th millennium bc. The island’s position on trade routes from Greece to the Balkans, Italy and Sicily led to the establishment of a colony in the early 8th century bc by settlers from Eretria on Euboia, who were displaced c. 734 bc by Corinthian colonists. The main settlement, close to modern Corfu town, was known as Kerkyra, which may be a corruption of Gorgon (see §1). Attempts by the settlers to assert their independence from Corinth eventually led to an alliance with Athens in 433 bc that initiated the Peloponnesian War (431–404 bc). From 229 bc Corfu was under Roman rule, becoming part of the province of Macedonia in ...

Article

Ephesos  

Thorsten Opper, M. Rautmann, Anton Bammer, Ulrike Muss and Mark Whittow

[Ephesus.]

Site of an important Classical city on the west coast of Turkey, c. 2 km south-west of modern Selçuk. It has been occupied since perhaps as early as the 10th century bc, and its Late Classical Temple of Artemis (Artemision), built on the site of an earlier temple from the Archaic period, was regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

M. Rautmann

According to Greek tradition, Ephesos was founded in the 10th century bc by Ionian settlers near the mouth of the River Cayster. From the mid-6th century bc it was ruled successively by the Lydians, Croesus of Lydia extending the unfortified city inland, and the Persians. It was conquered by Alexander the Great in 334 bc, and throughout antiquity Ephesos was an important trading centre, its prestige enhanced by the construction of the colossal Temple of Artemis (6th century bc, rebuilt 4th century bc) on the plain to the north-east of the city. In the early ...

Article

Gortyn  

Antonino Di Vita and Dimitris Tsougarakis

Site of a city on the northern edge of the Mesara Plain in southern Crete, c. 6 km north-east of Moíres, which flourished c. 700 bcad 670. The westernmost of the hills enclosing it to the north served as its acropolis, where, following Neolithic occupation, there was a Bronze Age settlement after the 13th century bc. The acropolis is separated from the hills to the east by the River Mitropolianos, the course of which also divided the Greco-Roman and Byzantine city into two unequal parts. Excavations were begun by Federico Halbherr in 1884 and were continued by the Italian Archaeological Mission in Crete and from 1912 onwards by the Italian Archaeological School in Athens.

Antonino Di Vita

The most significant late Bronze Age (c. 1580–c. 1100 bc) remains from the area derive from the rural villa of Kannia, to the south-west of modern Mitropolis, which comprised 30 rooms, including at least four small domestic shrines distinguished by benches and by statuettes and ex-votos of the Minoan goddess. The 50 or so large storage pithoi that were found in many of the rooms and that attest to the villa’s connection with agriculture date from Late Minoan (...

Article

Naxos  

R. L. N. Barber and Maria Panayotidi

Greek island at the centre of the Aegean Cyclades. It is the largest and most fertile of that island group and has been an important centre since prehistoric times. As well as agricultural wealth, the island also possesses extensive marble deposits and is a rare source of the abrasive mineral emery, which was used for working marble objects.

R. L. N. Barber

By the end of the 20th century the most significant prehistoric finds on Naxos had been from Early (ec) and Late Cycladic (lc) contexts (c. 3500–c. 2000 bc and c. 1600–c. 1050 bc respectively). The earliest excavations, mainly of ec cemetery sites, were conducted by C. Tsountas in the late 19th century, his work being augmented by that of C. Doumas in the 1960s. The most important Bronze Age settlement, Grotta (the northern and north-western coastal area of modern Naxos town), as well as the neighbouring ...