or Lissos Greece.
A small city on S
coast of W Crete, on a remote bay named after the
chapel of Ag. Kyrkos, Selino district; it is E of Kastelli
Selinou and W of Souyia. Its early history is unknown.
In the early 3d c. B.C. it had a coinage alliance with its
neighbors Elyros, Hyrtakina, and Tarrha. By the mid 3d
c. it was a member of the league of People of the Mountains (Oreioi) and probably the chief city; the league
lasted until the late 3d or early 2d c. The city is mentioned in ancient coastal pilots ([Skylax] 47; Stadiasmus
332f) and geographies (Ptol. 3.15.3; Tab. Peut
Geogr. Rav. 5.21); later sources show it was a bishop's
seat until the 9th c. (Hierokles 650.16; Not. gr. episc
8.239; 9.148). Coins of the 4th-3d c. and the treaty of
the Oreioi with King Magas of Kyrene indicate that the
main divinity of Lisos was Dictynna, but excavation has
now revealed an important Sanctuary of Asklepios.
Lisos was once thought to lie at Kastelli Selinou, but
the correct site was identified in the 19th c., and proved by
discovery in the wall of the chapel of Agios Kyrkos of a
stone inscribed with the treaty between the Oreioi and
Magas. On the slopes W of the stream that crosses the
small coastal plain are remains of the necropolis, including many freestanding barrel-vaulted built tombs; E of
the stream are the ruins of the city, which was inhabited
from at least the Classical to the First Byzantine period,
but apparently not reoccupied after the Arab conquest.
In antiquity the relative sea level was probably some 7.8
m higher; there would then have been the natural harbor
attested by Skylax, which could have served as one of the
ports of inland Elyros (the main one being Syia).
Remains have been found of an aqueduct, a theater
only 23.4 m in diameter, and a large Roman bath building near the chapel of Agios Kyrkos at the back of the
plain. Under this chapel and that of the Panagia near the
shore are the remains of Early Christian basilicas. The
city was small; it had little cultivable land and was barely
approachable except by sea.
The Sanctuary of Asklepios, however, which arose because of a spring of curative water, is strikingly large.
It was rediscovered after the unearthing of votive statues
near the chapel of Agios Kyrkos, and is the only area of
the city to be systematically excavated. The temple is a
small, simple Doric temple with walls of well-dressed
polygonal masonry below and pseudo-isodomic above. It
has no pronaos, and the cella, paved with a fine polychrome mosaic, has a marble podium at its rear for the
cult statues. The water from the spring ran under the
paving to a fountain in the cella. In front of the building
is a forecourt, and on the W side an entrance portico
from which steps led up to the temple. The building
seems to have been destroyed in an earthquake; parts of
its superstructure were found widely scattered. Nearby
was a building used by priests or visitors. The spring
itself was approached by steps from the terrace; beside
it was a large cistern.
This site has produced more sculpture than any in
Crete except Gortyn. Many of the heads of statues and
statuettes were found in a heap some distance away from
the torsos; most of them represent Asklepios or Hygieia,
or girls and boys (presumably consecrated to the god).
They are of Hellenistic and Roman date, but the types
are mostly Classical. A number of statue bases bear dedications to Asklepios and Hygieia. The finds are in the
Chania and Herakleion museums.
R. Pashley, Travels in Crete
repr. 1970) 88-97; T.A.B. Spratt, Travels and Researches
II (1865) 240-41; L. Savignoni, MonAnt
; G. de Sanctis, ibid. 509-10; Bürchner,
XIII, 1 (1926) 730; M. Guarducci, ICr
(1939) 210-15; E. Kirsten, “Orioi,” RE
XVIII, 1 (1942)
1063-65; H. van Effenterre, La Crète et le monde grec
de Platon à Polybe
(1948) 120-26; KretChron
336-37; 12 (1958) 465-67; 13 (1959) 376-78; 14 (1960)
82 (1958) 799; 83 (1959) 753-54; 84 (1960)
852-53; R. F. Willetts, Cretan Cults and Festivals
191-92; S. G. Spanakis, Kriti
II (n.d.) 247-50.
D. J. BLACKMAN