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RHITHYMNA (Rhethymno) Crete.

An ancient city in W central Crete ca. 40 km E-SE from Khania. Little is known of its history. It is mentioned mainly by geographers (Plin. HN 4.12.59; Ptol. 3.15.5; cf. also Lycoph. Alex. 76; Steph. Byz. s.v.). If the emendation ‘Rhithymna’ is correct in Aelian (NA 14.20), there was a temple of Artemis Rhokkaia at or near the site, at that time (early 3d c. A.D.) a mere village. It is not mentioned in Hierokles or the Notitiae. The city itself is not mentioned in inscriptions (e.g. the mid 3d c. agreements with Miletos or the treaty with Eumenes, 183), but only individual citizens. It probably developed links with the Ptolemies in the 3d c., and seems to have been refounded as Arsinoe, probably in the late 3d c.; the old name was in use again by the early 2d c. (Le Rider). Coinage started in the 4th c. Athena seems to have been the chief deity. Inscriptions in Rhethymno Museum (mostly gravestones of the Roman and Early Christian periods) are from Rhethymno province, and few of them certainly from Rhethymno.

The site was settled before the end of the Bronze Age (LM III tombs from SE suburb of Mastaba). Very iew remains of the ancient city have been found: part of a Late Roman house with columns was found under Kiouloubasi Square; mosaics found during construction of the Customs House (1931) were lost without study. The acropolis must have been on the high promontory (Fortetsa) where the Venetian fort was later built; here Belli (late 16th c.) claims he saw remains of a temple. The city and harbor lay below to the SE; SW of Fortetsa on the shore are remains of rock-cut slipways, probably ancient, and a fish-tank now barely awash (only a slight change in sea level is apparent here).


T.A.B. Spratt, Travels and Researches in Crete II (1865) 111-13; J.-N. Svornonos, Numismatique de la Crète ancienne (1890; repr. 1972) 309-12; Bürchner, “Rhithymna,” RE I A1 (1914) 923-24; M. Guarducci, ICr II (1939) 268-77; K. D. Kalokyris, I arkhaia Rhithymna (1950)MI; KretChron 7 (1953) 490; G. Le Rider, Monnaies crétoises du Ve au Ier siècle av. J.C. (1966) 242-45I; S. G. Spanakis, Kriti II (n.d.) 314-25 (in Greek)M; D. J. Blackman, BSA forthcoming (slipways at Rhithymna).


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