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SAMOS Greece.

One of the Sporades Islands, 2.35 km from the coast of Asia Minor, to which it is geographically and geologically linked. According to Strabo (14.637) the island's earliest inhabitants would have been Carians, who called it Parthenia, but Samos is also an Asian word. From the 3d millennium B.C. the island was inhabited by a population of Anatolian culture, until, at the beginning of the 1st millennium, it was occupied by Ionian colonists. It knew its maximum splendor during the reign of Polykrates (ca. 538 B.C.), to whom is owed a period of intensive building and a vast territorial expansion (Hdt. 34154ff). Samos participated in turn in the Persian wars and in the wars between Athens and Sparta, and in 365 B.C. it became an Athenian colony. After the battle of Magnesia in 190 B.C. Samos was ceded by the Romans to Eumenes II of Pergamon; from 129 B.C., when the reign of Pergamon fell, it became part of the Roman province in Asia. The first archaeological expedition to Samos was undertaken in 1764. Systematic excavation was initiated in 1910, and continues today.

The ancient city occupied the site of the modern village of Tigani, and was enclosed together with the port by a 6th c. wall with a perimeter of 6.7 km, of square and polygonal masonry, provided with gates and with circular and rectangular towers. On the acropolis (Astypaleia) rose the fortified palace of Polykrates, of which no trace remains. The port was bound by two piers which enclosed military and commercial activities in a single basin. A part turned back towards land in such a way as to form a shelter for the ships, and probably reflects in its originality Polykrates' new ideas about naval engineering (Hdt. 3.45; Plin. HN 7.209). Water from the Agiades fountain reached the port by means of a tunnel 1 km long and 1.75 m high dug into the mountain, an admirable work of Eupalinos of Megara. Near the port was the Hellenistic agora, and on the slope of the hillside are the remains of a small theater. The Roman habitation site was to the SW, while on the castro of Tigani the prehistoric remains are overlapped by a Hellenistic-Roman villa where a statue of Trajan was found, and by an Early Christian basilica. The necropoleis were situated immediately adjacent to the walls.

About 6 km W of the city, at the mouth of the Imbrasos river, was the Sanctuary of Hera. A very ancient cult place, it was probably originally dedicated to a local divinity, mother of nature, trees, and marshes. Greek mythology said that here, near a sacred bush, occurred the birth and matrimony of Hera. There, at the beginning of the 1st millennium, was miraculously found an aniconic wooden image of the goddess, which was still extant at the time of Pausanias in the 2d c. A.D. Every year a festival celebrated the sacred marriage there of Hera and Zeus (ἱερὸς γάμος). One of the rites consisted in a purificatory bath of the cult effigy, which was then wound with foliage of the sacred lygos tree to restore to the deity her virginity until the day of the wedding. Subsequently she was redressed in a gown sewn every year by the women of Samos. There followed a procession of armed men that departed from the city. Polykrates and his brothers profited from the occasion by taking possession of the entire island.

On the site of the Heraion the remains of prehistoric settlements from eight successive periods have been recognized. The earliest corresponds to the first Trojan age (2500 B.C.), while the most recent is of the Late Mycenaean and Geometric ages. These communities are characterized by houses with a megaron plan and encircling walls. Belonging to the last phase is a Mycenaean tumulus with a diameter of 6 m and four bothroi filled with fragments of pottery, figurines in terracotta and alabaster, Egyptian statuettes, and Oriental objects. Among the most precious finds is an ivory representing a kneeling youth from mid 7th c. B.C. The earliest architectural complex of the sanctuary dates from the 9th-8th c. B.C. and includes a paved square with traces of ashes, an altar, and a hekatompedon temple. It is ca. 33 x 6.50 m, divided into two aisles, with the entrance to the E. On a socle of small limestone blocks were placed walls of crude bricks. In the middle of the 8th c. the temple was surrounded by a colonnade of wooden pillars that supported the roof, and on the earlier foundations were constructed the walls of the cella. A century later, following a flood, this, the earliest example of a large peripteral temple in the Greek world, was replaced by an analogous temple, also peripteral with a single nave and a pronaos decorated by an incised and painted frieze of a procession of warriors. In the cella was kept the ancient aniconic image, which was later replaced by a statue by Skelmis or Smilis (the sources are not agreed on the name), whose image perhaps was reproduced on coins. Before the temple at the front was the altar. The earliest altar, from mid 10th c., was succeeded by seven more by the end of the 7th c., each overlying the preceding altar until a large rectangle was formed. For this reason the altars are exceptional with respect to the axis of the temple.

To the S of the temple and contemporary with its 7th c. addition, is a portico with two aisles, 70 m long, and open to the E. This was built on the original bed of the river, whose course was changed at that time. Also nearby was the sacred pool, fed by the waters of the Imbrasos and connected with the sea, which was used for ritual baths of the goddess's image. Later other pools were added. At the end of the 7th c. an enclosing wall was built, opening to the N with a large gate, earlier considered a propylaeum. Naiskoi and votive statues, whose bases remain in place, lined the square and the sides of the sacred ways leading to the city and to the port. The most conspicuous is that bearing the signature of the sculptor Geneleos, on which there were six marble statues datable to the middle of the 6th c. Three of these are preserved in the museum at Vathy.

A little before the middle of the 6th c. a period of intense building activity transformed the sanctuary. The construction of the new Temple of Hera was entrusted to Roikos and Theodoros, two names which tradition also links with the invention of sculpture by the lost wax process. It was a colossal building in poros, measuring 51 x 102 m, with a double colonnade of two rows of 8 columns each on the front, 21 on the long sides, and 10 on the back. On the interior two rows of columns, S in the pronaos and 10 m the cella, supported the roof. On the front the intercolumnal spaces appeared to vary from the center to the sides. The forest of columns that resulted have earned this temple the epithet of labyrinth. The columns had a characteristic type of Ionic capital, with lotus flowers around the collar, and without an abacus. Before the temple, and on an axis with it, rose a new altar measuring 36.57 x 16.58 m, preceded by a flight of stairs. This was also Ionic in type, the first in this style. In Roman times it was first restored and then replaced by a precise copy in marble in the 1st c. In place of the S portico Roikos constructed another structure, the so-called S building, provided with a peristyle and a row of columns on an axis with the cella. In this building has been recognized a Temple of Aphrodite and Hermes, two divinities honored in the sanctuary since the end of the Geometric period, as is known from the sources and from numerous inscriptions. Perhaps two other small temples were also dedicated to them. The temple of Roikos and Theodoros was soon destroyed by fire. According to Pausanias this would have happened at the time of the Persian conquest of the island in 530 B.C. Its reconstruction, initiated by Polykrates, was conceived on such a grandiose scale that it was never completed. The Ionic temple, measuring 52.40 x 108.70 m, rose on a high platform. It had a double colonnade of 24 columns on the sides, and three rows of columns on the ends (8 on the E and 9 on the W). The pronaos was divided into three aisles by two rows of 5 columns each. The columns differ in diameter and material (poros and marble) according to the period in which they were erected. They bear a capital characteristic of the Samos-Ionic style. The pronaos and the cella were decorated by a frieze in poros that was never finished. Construction continued until the Roman epoch, when the hope of ever completing such a gigantic work was abandoned.

In the 2d c. A.D. two modest little temples rose beside the altar. An Ionic peripteral temple and other minor buildings belong to the age of Polykrates. Among the marvels of the Heraion Strabo (14.1-14) mentions an art gallery with works of Timantes, Parrhasios, and Apelles, and three statues by Miron representing Zeus, Athena, and Herakles, whose bases have been found. The Zeus statue was probably transported to the Campidoglio in Rome by Augustus. Besides the two little temples near the altar, other remains from the Roman epoch include other temples; naiskoi; votive offerings; an exedra; private houses, some with two stories from the 2d c. A.D.; an honorific monument of the family of Cicero; baths; a new network of canals; and a wide paved road toward the city from the 3d c. A.D. In 260 the sanctuary suffered violent destruction by the Herulians. Towards the end of the 5th c. there rose a basilica measuring 18 x 30 m, with three naves, testifying to a considerable Christian community.

The material from the early explorations of the city and especially from the Heraion, which includes monumental sculpture, ceramics, and objects in bronze, wood, and ivory are preserved in various museums of the world, including those in Berlin, Paris, and Athens. Finds from more recent excavation are in the local museum at Vathy. These have permitted a reconstruction of the stylistic features of the Samos school, and give an idea of the ample communication network during the archaic period, linking the island to the great Mediterranean and Anatolian centers of Cyprus, Egypt, Assyria, Syria, and others. With the decline of political power at the end of the 7th c., the artistic activity of Samos also declined, and the importation of foreign goods ceased. Pythagoras, the last of the great sculptors originally from Samos, recorded by the sources, and active around the beginning of the 5th c., emigrated to Reggio in Magna Graecia.


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