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KYDONIA (Khania) Crete.

On the gulf of the same name in the W part of the island, it is one of the three greatest and most famous cities of Crete. It is mentioned in many ancient sources (Scylax 47; Strab. 10.4.7-8, 11-13; Pompon. Mela 2.113; Plin. HN 4.12.59; Ptol. 3.15.5;Stad. 343-44; Tab. Peut. 8.5; Rav. Cosm. 5.21). It had a good harbor and controlled a fertile plain. Founded traditionally by Minos or Kydon (Marmor Parium 21f; Diod. 5.78.2; Paus. 8.53.4), it was the principal site in the territory of the Kydones. Herodotos (3.59) tells of its foundation or refoundation in 524 by Samian exiles, who built the temples visible in the 5th c.; they were defeated and enslaved by Aeginetans (with Cretan support), who then settled there (Strab. 8.6.16) and remained a significant part of the population. The city was attacked unsuccessfully by an Athenian force in answer to an appeal from its small neighbor Polichna in 429 B.C. (Thuc. 2.85) and by Phalaikos the Phokian mercenary commander in 343 B.C. (Diod. 16.63; Paus. 10.2.7.).

It had good relations with Athens and probably with Macedon in the later 4th and 3d c. It was allied with Knossos in mid 3d c., but forced to abandon this alliance in 220 by Polyrrhenia (Polyb. 4.55.4). Increasing prosperity from the 4th c. made Kydonia predominant in W Crete by the 2d c.; it subjected Phalasarna, but was forced by Ap. Claudius to restore its freedom (Polyb. 22.15) in 184 B.C. It stayed out of the Cretan League and the alliance with Eumenes II (183 B.C.), but made a separate alliance with him, invoked in 170 or 169 when Gortyn threatened it, counterattacking in reprisal for the city's atrocities against Apollonia (destroyed 171; Polyb. 28.14-15; Diod. 30.13). For long periods it controlled the Diktynnaion. It led Cretan resistance to Rome in the 1st c. B.C., supported Octavian against Antony, and was rewarded with freedom (30 B.C.; Dio Cass. 51.2). It was prosperous under the Empire and one of the few Cretan cities then issuing its own coinage, which had begun in the early 5th c. B.C. The seat of a bishop, the settlement continued until the Arab Conquest in the early 9th c.

Recent excavations on Kastelli Hill by the harbor have revealed a very important Minoan settlement, mainly MM-LM (esp. LM III), but with also EM and post-Minoan sherds (esp. Geometric). From the Bronze Age onwards this was clearly the main settlement in the area; theories that Kydonia or early Kydonia lay W or SW of Khania must be rejected. Of the post-Minoan city very little has been found, but it probably occupied Kastelli Hill (presumably the acropolis) and the area below to the S. Remains of buildings with mosaics of the Roman period (mainly 2d c. A.D.) have been found just S of the Cathedral (Metropolis; two rooms of bath complex and part of hypocaust); by Venizelos Sq. S of the Market; and in Nea Katastimata to the SW (mosaic depicting Poseidon and Amymone). Tombs of MM, LM, archaic, Classical, Hellenistic, and Roman date (the Minoan mainly chamber tombs and the later mainly cist graves or hypogaea) have been found in the E and SE of the city: in the area of the Public Park, Stadium, Law Courts (Mazali), Bolaris and Khalepa. Minoan remains have also been found to the SW. The ancient harbor (closable according to Skylax; with reefs at entrance according to the Stad.) was below Kastelli to the N, the harbor used later by the Venetians, whose mole along the reef probably covers an ancient mole. Belli saw remains of the theater (being demolished in 1585 by the Venetians for improvements to their fortifications), an aqueduct, and a temple with a Doric portico. The Venetian walls clearly contain much ancient material and provide the main reason for the lack of visible ancient remains.


R. Pashley, Travels in Crete I (1837; repr. 1970) 11-17M; T.A.B. Spratt, Travels and Researches in Crete II (1865) 137-42I; J.-N. Svoronos, Numismatique de la Créte ancienne (1890; repr. 1972) 96-119; L. Mariani,MonAnt 6 (1895) 170, 201-7; Bürchner, “Kydonia (1),” RE XI (1922) 2306-7; 5. Paraskevaidis,Deltion 10 (1926), Parartima 44-48P; M. Guarducci,ICr II (1939) 104-27; V. D. Theophanidis, ArchEph 84-85 (1945-47) 37-46; id. 86-87 (1948-49), Parartima 12-19P; H. van Effenterre, La Crète et le monde grec de Platon à Polybe (1948); U. Jantzen, “Die spätminoische Nekropole von Kydonia,” in F. Matz (ed.), Forschungen auf Kreta, 1942 (1951) 72-81; id., “Protogeometrisches aus Westkreta,” Festschr. E. von Mercklin (1964) 60-62; N. Platon,KretChron 13 (1959) 392; R. F. Willetts, Aristocratic Society in Ancient Crete (1955); id., Cretan Cults and Festivals (1962); P. Faure, Fonctions des cavernes créoises (1964); M.S.F. Hood, BSA 60 (1965) 109-10; S. G. Spanakis,Kriti II (n.d.) 231-36, 396-416 (in Greek) n.d.M;Deltion, 20ff (1965ff) esp.Chronika 21, 428; 22, 497-98; 25, 465-67; BCH 94 (1970) 1156; 95 (1971) 1063, 1067; 96 (1972) 805; 97 (1973) 409ff;AAA 3 (1970) 100-2; 4 (1971) 223-24; 5 (1972) 387-91; 6 (1973) 430-48.


hide References (7 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (7):
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 16.63
    • Herodotus, Histories, 3.59
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.2.7
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 8.53.4
    • Strabo, Geography, 8.6.16
    • Thucydides, Histories, 2.85
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 5.78.2
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