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LASAIA (Chrysostomos) Kainourgiou, Crete.

An extensive Graeco-Roman city 8 km W of Lebena. The earliest remains in the vicinity are two Early Minoan tholos cemeteries and an Early Minoan settlement, but there are no other remains earlier than the late 5th c., at which time the city appears to have been founded. The site was then occupied continuously as a harbor and city until at least the late Roman period, and was at its most prosperous and extensive during the period of the Roman occupation.

The site is a small headland, opposite the offshore island of Nissos Traphos, flanked by two small bays with sandy beaches. An ancient mole, possibly of Roman date, which runs from the foot of the headland almost to Traphos ensured calm water in either one of the bays, depending on the direction of the wind.

The late 5th and 4th c. occupation of the site seems to have been concentrated on the slopes and the flat summit of the low hill which rises immediately behind the headland. Buildings on the summit include one with foundations entirely of white blocks, situated right on the seaward edge of the hilltop, overlooking the whole site. In later periods occupation spread over the whole of the headland, and along the steep slopes overlooking the bay to the W. Further buildings were erected to the E of the headland. Over the whole of this area the remains of the city are still clearly visible, both as a dense spread of broken pottery and as a mass of stone walls, built of red, green, white, and brown blocks used haphazardly.

On the headland three buildings of some importance can be traced. In the center of the headland are the remains of a substantial building whose main feature is an oblong court measuring 27 x 10 m. On the N side it is flanked by a long narrow hall or corridor 5 m wide, and on the S by a corridor 3 m wide, which continues along the E and possibly the W sides of the court also. At either end of the S corridor, against the courtyard wall, is a built altar or statue base. Beyond the S corridor are suites of almost square rooms. The building seems likely to have fulfilled a public rather than a private function but its precise identity is uncertain.

Southwest of the building described the headland has been terraced to form a natural podium for a temple. A flight of six steps, 10 m wide, survive, flanked by massive side walls. Set back 3 m from the top of the steps are two square altar bases, one on either side of the entrance to the cella. Two walls of the cella survive and show it to have been approximately 5 x 8 m.

Toward the S tip of the headland are the remains of a Christian church, one corner of which has been lost by erosion of the cliff edge. At the N end of the building is an apse 8 m in diameter. The nave is of a similar width, and flanking it are two narrow aisles. Beyond the nave and aisles there may have been a narrow narthex.

The city was supplied with water by a built aqueduct which ran across the hill slopes to the E to reach a spring source about a km away. On the NE extremity of the city the aqueduct appears to have emptied into a large built cistern with plastered walls. The city's cemeteries lay to the W of the settlement. In the late Classical and Hellenistic periods burials were in dug graves and cists on a small headland. Roman burials were in built barrelvaulted tombs a little farther W.


T. B. Spratt, Travels and Researches in Crete (1865) II 8; D. J. Blackman & K. Branigan, “An Archaeological Survey on the South Coast of Crete,” BSA 70 (1975)PI.


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