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ITANOS (Eremoupolis) Greece.

Town in Sitia province, E Crete; on a now deserted bay just S of the NE point of Crete, Cape Sidhero (ancient Samonion) and N of Palaikastro and Cape Plaka (ancient Cape Itanon). Traces of Minoan occupation have been found, and at Vaï 1.6 km to the S an LM IA building has been excavated. Much more evidence has been found of occupation in succeeding periods: Protogeometric (?), Geometric, and archaic sherds from unstratified deposits, and many Classical and Hellenistic sherds. But the visible remains are mostly of Roman or Byzantine date.

Apart from the archaeological evidence little is known of the city's history before the 3d c. B.C. The traditional founder was Itanos, a son of Phoinix or bastard son of one of the Kouretes (Steph. Byz. s.v.). This and the possibly Semitic origin of the name have been adduced as evidence of Phoenician links or even settlement, but concrete evidence is lacking. The Theran colonists of Kyrene (Hdt. 4.151) were guided by an Itanian purplefisherman, Korobios (possibly to be identified with the marine deity on some Itanian coins). Itanos was one of the first Cretan cities to strike coins, in the 5th c.

Much of the detail of its history in the 3d and 2d c. comes from inscriptions. In the early 3d c. an oath of loyalty was imposed on all citizens, a probable indication of internal political instability and the threat of revolution, clearly arrested (perhaps by reforms leading to a moderate democracy). In the 260s Itanos sought Ptolemaic help against its aggressive neighbor Praisos (perhaps also against the threat of revolution). An Egyptian garrison was established, maintained until about the end of the 3d c., and renewed briefly in the mid 2d. This led to increasing Egyptian influence in Cretan politics and provided a base for recruiting mercenaries. When Hierapytna destroyed Praisos (145-140), she became a neighbor of Itanos, and the two cities, though formerly allies, came into conflict over Hierapytnian control of the Sanctuary of Dictaean Zeus (at Palaikastro) and Leuke island (Kouphonisi). The dispute was finally settled in 112-111. The later history of Itanos is obscure; it was not a bishop's see and is not listed by Hierokles. Coins, inscriptions, and ruins indicate continued occupation in Roman times, and many Byzantine remains survive, including two churches and baptisteries. The date of final abandonment is uncertain.

In the 19th c. the site was first thought to be Hetera, but later correctly identified. In the center of a small bay, protected from the N and NW winds, a low hill forms the ancient acropolis. On its W side is a large church, on the S traces of a circuit wall with towers, and on the summit remains of small late buildings; sherds, however, go back to the Geometric period. Inland to the W, on a second hill, stands a fine Hellenistic terrace wall, but few other remains. On low ground between the hills are large domestic buildings of Byzantine date overlying earlier levels. To the N is the necropolis, to the W ancient quarries, and on the S edge of the city a circuit wall surrounds a hill, perhaps for the Ptolemaic garrison. Part of the ancient city may now lie under water; this coast has been submerged by some 2 m since antiquity. Ancient remains have been found on the offshore island of Elasa (ancient Onysia), still an anchorage.


T.A.B. Spratt, Travels and Researches in Crete (1865) 193-205I; F. Halbherr, Antiquary 24 (1891) 202-3, 241-45; L. Mariani, MonAnt 6 (1895) 312-18; A. J. Reinach, “Inscriptions d'Itanos,” REG 24 (1911) 377-425; Bürchner, “Itanos,” RE IX, 2 (1916) 2286-88; J.D.S. Pendlebury et al., BSA 33 (1932-33) 97-98M; M. Guarducci, ICr in (1942) 5-17, 75-130; H. van Effenterre, La Crète et le monde grec de Platon à Polybe (1948); C. Tiré & id., Guide des fouilles françaises en Crète (1966) 93-94; H. Gallet de Santerre, “Recherches archéologiques dans la région d'Itanos,” RA 38 (1951) 134-46MI; J. Deshayes, “Tessons géometriques et archaïques d'Itanos,” BCH 75 (1951) 201-9 (cf. 190-98); Brit. Adm. Chart 1677 (1969)M; S. Spyridakis, Ptolemaic Itanos and Hellenistic Crete (1970).


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