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CIMO´LUS (Κίμωλος), a small island in the Aegaean sea, one of the Cyclades, lying between Siphnos and Melos, and separated from the latter by a narrow strait only half a mile in breadth. The extreme length of the island is 5 miles, and its breadth 3 1/2 miles. Pliny relates (4.12. s. 23) that Cimolus was also called Echinusa, a name which is not derived from Echidna, viper, as most modern writers have supposed, but from Echinus, the seaurchin, of which there are several fossil specimens on the west coast, and which are not found in any other of the Cyclades or Sporades, except on the opposite coast of Melos. Cimolus is not mentioned in political history, and appears to have followed the fate of the neighbouring island of Melos; but it was celebrated in antiquity on account of its earth or chalk ( Κιμώλια γῆ, Cimolia Creta), which was used by fullers in washing clothes. This chalk was also employed in medicine. (Strab. x. p.484; Eustath. ad Dionys. 530; Schol. ad Aristoph. Ran. 713; Plin. Nat. 4.12. s. 23, 35.17. s. 57; Cels. 2.33.) This Cimolian earth is described by Tournefort as a white chalk, very heavy, without any taste, and which melts away when it is put into water. The island is covered with this white chalk, whence Ovid (Ov. Met. 7.463) speaks of “cretosa rura Cimoli.” The figs of Cimolus were celebrated by the comic poet Amphis (Athen. 1.30b); and though the soil is barren, figs are still produced in the vallies. Another writer (quoted by Athenaeus, iii. p. 123d) speaks of certain caves of the island, in which water being placed became as cold as snow, though warm before.

Cimolus contained 1200 inhabitants when it. was visited by Ross in 1843. The modern town is in the SE. of the island, about a quarter of an hour from the harbour, which is both small and insecure. In the middle of the west coast there is a Paleokastron, situated upon a steep rock about 1000 feet in height; but it appears only to have been built as a place of refuge to be used in times of danger. The ancient town was situated at Daskaliò, also called St. Andrew, on the S. coast, opposite Melos. Daskaliò, or St. Andrew, is the name given to a rock, distant at present about 200 paces from the island, to which, however, it was originally united. The whole rock is covered with the remains of houses, among which Ross noticed a draped female figure of white marble, of good workmanship, but without head and hands. As long as the rock was united to the island by an isthmus, there was a good, though small harbour, on the eastern side of the rock. Around this harbour was the burial-place of the town; and [p. 1.625]several of the sepulchral chambers situated above the water were opened at the end of the last and the beginning of the present centuries, and were found to contain painted vases and golden ornaments, while above them were stelae with reliefs and inscriptions; but at present nothing of the kind is discovered. The strip of coast containing the tombs is called Helleniká. To the E. of Daskalió on the S. coast there is a small rock, containing a ruined tower, called Pyrgos; and N. of the present town, there is upon the east coast a good harbour. called Prása, where there are said to be some Hellenic sepulchral chambers. This harbour, and the one at Daskalió, are probably the two, which Dicaearchus assigns to Cimolos (Descript. Graec. 138, p. 463, ed. Fuhr):

Ἔπειτα Σίφνος καὶ Κίμωλος ἐχομένη,

Ἔχουσα λιμένας δύο.
The Greeks still call the island Cimoli; but it is also called Argentièra, because a silver mine is said to have been discovered here. Others suppose, however, that this name may have been given to it even by the ancients from its white cliffs. (Tournefort, Travels, &c. vol. i. p. 111, seq., transl.; Fiedler, Reise durch Griechenland, vol. ii. p. 344, seq.; Ross, Reisen auf den Griech. Inseln, vol. iii. p. 22, seq.)

hide References (4 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (4):
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 7.463
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 4.12
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 4.35
    • Athenaeus, of Naucratis, Deipnosophistae, 1
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