(near Elounda) Greece.
On the W
side of the Gulf of Mirabello, just N of Ag. Nikolnos,
N coast of Crete. The remains of the ancient city lie on
both sides of the isthmus which joins the peninsula of
Spinalonga to the mainland; the area of the site is known
Ancient literary sources merely locate the site. In late
sources (e.g. Notitiae
) the name has been corrupted to
Alyngos. Most of our knowledge of the city's history is
derived from inscriptions of the Hellenistic period. In
one of post 260 B.C. Olous appears as a subordinate ally
of Knossos. A number of 3d and 2d c. inscriptions show
the city's close relations with Rhodes; in particular, parts
of a treaty between Rhodes and Olous dating from 201-200 have been discovered in recent years, by which
Rhodes secured a great measure of control over Olous
and her ports and anchorages, as she did over those of
Hierapytna in the same year. Ptolemaic admirals had
been honored at Olous at about the time of the Chremonidean war in the 260s. Olous does not appear among the
cities of the Cretan koinon in the treaty with Eumenes II
in 183, either because she was then subject to her neighbor Lato or because of her links with Egypt. A boundary dispute between Olous and Lato was referred to the Knossians for arbitration (117-116/116-115 B.C.); continuing wrangles led to Roman intervention and confirmation by the Senate of the Knossians' decision on the boundary line (ca. 113; see Sta Lenika).
Coins of ca. 330-280 B.C. are known, depicting in particular the heads of Britomartis and Zeus Tallaios. The
latter was clearly the chief deity of Olous, in whose temple many inscriptions were displayed; for the same reason
the cult of Asklepios must also have been important.
) mentions a statue of Britomartis by
Daidalos at Olous. None of their temples at Olous has been found.
There is clear evidence that the site has been submerged by at least 2 m since antiquity, probably mainly
as a result of land movements: by the actual isthmus
some remains of houses are visible in shallow water. The
channel at the isthmus was dug for the local fishermen
by French sailors who occupied the area in 1897; their
finds included the large stele now in the Louvre. The
only ruins still clearly visible E of the isthmus are those
of an Early Christian basilica with a mosaic in the nave.
Few remains of the archaic and Classical periods have
been found, but part of the massive E wall of the city
still stood 6 courses high in the 19th c. Graeco-Roman
sherds have been found at Kolokythia Bay on the E side
of the peninsula, and at the N end of Spinalonga is an
islet fortified by the Venetians; no earlier remains are
visible. There are many rock inscriptions around the
West of the isthmus a few walls have been found, but
the area served mainly as a cemetery. Graves with coffins or pithoi of the LM IIIB period have been found,
and the Hellenistic necropolis with funerary inscriptions.
Just to the N lies a significant Middle Minoan settlement, and a few Early Minoan pots have been found.
Just within the territory of Olous, to the SW, a prominent hilltop bears remains of a fort of uncertain (ancient) date (Mt. Oxa). Farther N another fort at Stis Pines guarded the road to Dreros. Just S of Mt. Oxa lies
the site of Sta Lenika in Latian territory.
T.A.B. Spratt, Travels and Researches
; A. Mariani, MonAnt
248-49; M. Guarducci, ICr
I (1935) 243ff; J.D.S.
Pendlebury, The Archaeology of Crete
Kirsten, “Olur (2),” RE
17,2 (1937) 2504-8; H. van
Effenterre, La Crète et le monde grec de Platon à Polybe
(1948) esp. 226-34; id., Nécropoles du Mirabello
; id., “Fortins crétois,” Mél. Charles Picard
II (1949) 1033-46I
; A. Orlandos, Praktika
(1960) 308-16; id., Kret. Chron
. 15-16,1 (1961-62) 230-40; C.
Tiré & H. van Effenterre, Guide des fouilles françaises
XXIII (1968) Nos. 546-55.
D. J. BLACKMAN