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LEMNOS Island of the NE Aegean, Greece.

About 475 sq. km in area, rugged, and of volcanic origin. The main sites have been excavated. The two principal Classical cities are Hephaistia and Myrina, on its N and W coasts respectively. It contains several important Bronze Age sites, notably Poliochni (on the E coast), whose culture is closely related to that of Troy. The pre-Classical inhabitants were described as Tyrsenoi, associated by ancient writers with the Etruscans of Italy. The Athenian Miltiades took the island at the end of the 6th c. B.C. After brief occupation by the Persians it remained Athenian throughout antiquity, receiving cleruchs from Athens ca. 450 B.C. and with intermittent occupation by Hellenistic kings.

Hephaistia, the main city, occupies a peninsula site beside an almost wholly landlocked harbor. The only above-ground remains explored are of a Graeco-Roman theater, with its stage buildings and some houses of late antiquity, but the excavations have recovered much of its pre-Greek “Tyrsenian” period. This includes a large cremation cemetery, which is succeeded by Classical Greek burials in the 5th and 4th c. B.C. and votive deposits from a pre-Greek sanctuary including terracottas in a partly Hellenized style.

Myrina occupies a rocky peninsula site, with good harbors. There are traces of its Classical fortifications, an archaic and Classical cemetery, and inscriptions indicate a Sanctuary of Artemis.

Northeast of Hephaistia, at modern Chloe, a Sanctuary to the Kabeiroi has been discovered, with inscriptions ranging in date from the 5th c. B.C. to the 3d A.D. The sanctuary occupies two semicircular terraces within a circuit wall. On the S terrace a three-roomed building is identified as the early telesterion, with a structure in the central room surrounded by offering bases, probably intended for the display of sacred objects to initiates. The upper terrace is mainly filled by a large Hellenistic building, probably the later telesterion, with a 12-column Doric facade, faced by a monumental stoa. Southwest of Hephaistia, at Mosychlos, were the sources of Lemnian earth.

At Kaminia in the SE part of the island was found a stele (now in the National Museum of Athens) inscribed in the Lemnian language, related by some to Etruscan. At Komi, inland in the E half of the island, are remains of a Temple of Herakles, referred to in an inscription.

The finds from Lemnos are in the National Museum of Athens and the museum at Kastro (Myrina).


C. Fredrich, “Lemnos,” AthMitt 31 (1906); IG XII8 & XII, Suppl.; F.L.W. Sealy, “Lemnos,” BSA 23 (1918-19); Annuaria d. Scuola archeologica di Atene X-XII (1931); XIII-XIV (1933); XV-XVI (1942PI [Hephaistia]); XVII-XVIII (1942 [Hephaistia theater, Chloe]); L. Bernabò-Brea, EAA III (1960), s.v. Efestia; IV (1961), s.v. LemnoMI.


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