Hellenistic city a little
over 10 km S of Sitia. The two hills occupied by the
Hellenistic city have yielded no traces of earlier occupation, although S of the city a third hill was the site of a
sanctuary from the 8th to the 5th c. B.C., and S of this
sanctuary two Late Bronze Age tholoi have been discovered. The Late Bronze Age settlement may have been
another km to the S, where remains of well-built houses
have been observed. The Hellenistic city was founded
in the 4th c. and destroyed about the middle of the 2d
c. B.C. by Hierapetra.
The Hellenistic city was situated on two hills and a
low saddle between them, the whole area being flanked on
E and W by streams and their respective valleys. Traces
of the defense wall have been recognized, mainly on
the E and S sides, and they, together with the general
spread of debris, suggest that the walled city occupied
an area of more than 10 hectares. Within this area, the
higher of the two hills seems to have been fortified as
a citadel and to have formed the center of the city as a
whole. On the peak of this hill, remains of a major temple
have been recognized.
On the slopes of both hills terrace walls can be traced,
and on the S side of the lower hill rectangular cuttings
in the rock are thought to represent the remains of houses
cut back into the slope here. Narrow, stepped streets ran
up the slopes and were flanked by built houses, only
one of which was ever extensively excavated. This proved
to be a fine house of ashlar, with six or seven downstairs
rooms and traces of stairs leading to an upper floor. The
whole building had a tiled roof, and was occupied from
the 3d c. until the mid 2d B.C. The saddle between the
two hills is thought to have been the site of the agora,
and from it were recovered several architectural fragments, including part of a Doric frieze and a fragment from an Ionic capital. A paved road led from this area up toward the summit of the lower hill.
The third hill, beyond the city walls to the S, was
found to have first been used as a sanctuary in the
Geometric period. To it belonged a thick deposit of soil
containing many votive terracottas and miniature bronze
pieces of armor. At the close of the 5th c. the whole hill
summit was enclosed by a temenos wall, except where
the hillside was particularly steep. An entrance in the SE
corner of this wall led into an enclosure where there was
an altar, a long building probably used as a repository
for gifts, and probably a temple. No trace of the temple
was found on the summit, but a leveled rectangular area
of rock, 13 x 9 m, probably indicates its situation. From
the fields immediately below the cliff traces of ashlar
blocks and columns may well belong to this temple, presumably completely destroyed in the mid 2d c. B.C.
The city was supplied with water from a source more
than 3 km to the S, where a small temple stood above
the spring. Cemeteries were situated on the E, S, and
probably W of the city, while some 400 m NW of the
lower hill quarries used during the building of the city
are still visible.
L. Mariani, “Antichità Cretesi,” MonAnt
6 (1895) 283-348; F. Halbherr, “Report on the Researches at Praesos,” AJA
5 (1901) 371-92M
; E. S.
Forster, “Praesos. The Terracottas,” BSA
8 (1902) 271-81I
; R. C. Bosanquet, “Excavations at Praesos I,” BSA
8 (1902) 231-70MPI
; R. S. Conway, “Prehellenic Inscriptions of Praesos,” BSA
8 (1902) 125-56; F. H.
Marshall, “Tombs of Hellenic Date at Praisos,” BSA
(1906) 53-70; G. Daux, “Chroniques des Fouilles en
83 (1959) 733.