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LEBENA (Lendas) Kainourgiou, Crete.

On the Libyan Sea, a small Hellenistic and Roman settlement centered around the medicinal springs. The settlement was founded in the 4th c. B.C. probably as a spa, but during the Roman period it grew and prospered as one of the two harbors of Gortyn. It was probably not abandoned until the 9th c., some time after the building of a Byzantine basilica which was later covered by the church of Haghios Joannis.

Several of the principal buildings of the settlement can still be seen, most of them directly connected with its function as a spa. Overlooking the center of the harbor is a close-set complex of buildings dominated by the Temple of Asklepios. The cella, with a floor of marble slabs and mosaic panels, retains its altar and the two columns which stand immediately before it. North of the temple is the building known as the Treasury, built in the 2d or 1st c. B.C., and fronted by a monumental marble staircase. At right angles to the staircase and the temple was a long abaton, at the E of which was situated the Temple of the Nymphs. The temple complex formed an angle around the source of the healing waters while S of the complex were two basins for medicinal bathing.

Closer to the shore, traces of other buildings can be seen. The largest is a long, narrow building which seems to have been subdivided into many small rooms, each with an apse overlooking the harbor. This seems likely to have been the main hostel for visitors to the spa. Whether or not the large building to the S also served as a hostel is less certain. Walls belonging to much smaller buildings situated on the opposite, E, side of the harbor are identified as the remains of domestic houses.

A number of inscriptions from the site, mainly relating to the cures obtained there, are kept in the Herakleion museum together with the rich array of Early Bronze Age material recovered from five circular communal tombs excavated in the vicinity of Lebena.


F. Halbherr & I. Piginoni, Rendiconti dell' Academia Lincei (1901) 291ff; G. Gerola, Le Antiche chiese di Lebena a Creta (1915); L. Pernier & L. Banti, Guida degli Scavi Italiano in Creta (1947) 67-75MP.


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