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PRAISOS Sitia, Crete.

Hellenistic city a little over 10 km S of Sitia. The two hills occupied by the Hellenistic city have yielded no traces of earlier occupation, although S of the city a third hill was the site of a sanctuary from the 8th to the 5th c. B.C., and S of this sanctuary two Late Bronze Age tholoi have been discovered. The Late Bronze Age settlement may have been another km to the S, where remains of well-built houses have been observed. The Hellenistic city was founded in the 4th c. and destroyed about the middle of the 2d c. B.C. by Hierapetra.

The Hellenistic city was situated on two hills and a low saddle between them, the whole area being flanked on E and W by streams and their respective valleys. Traces of the defense wall have been recognized, mainly on the E and S sides, and they, together with the general spread of debris, suggest that the walled city occupied an area of more than 10 hectares. Within this area, the higher of the two hills seems to have been fortified as a citadel and to have formed the center of the city as a whole. On the peak of this hill, remains of a major temple have been recognized.

On the slopes of both hills terrace walls can be traced, and on the S side of the lower hill rectangular cuttings in the rock are thought to represent the remains of houses cut back into the slope here. Narrow, stepped streets ran up the slopes and were flanked by built houses, only one of which was ever extensively excavated. This proved to be a fine house of ashlar, with six or seven downstairs rooms and traces of stairs leading to an upper floor. The whole building had a tiled roof, and was occupied from the 3d c. until the mid 2d B.C. The saddle between the two hills is thought to have been the site of the agora, and from it were recovered several architectural fragments, including part of a Doric frieze and a fragment from an Ionic capital. A paved road led from this area up toward the summit of the lower hill.

The third hill, beyond the city walls to the S, was found to have first been used as a sanctuary in the Geometric period. To it belonged a thick deposit of soil containing many votive terracottas and miniature bronze pieces of armor. At the close of the 5th c. the whole hill summit was enclosed by a temenos wall, except where the hillside was particularly steep. An entrance in the SE corner of this wall led into an enclosure where there was an altar, a long building probably used as a repository for gifts, and probably a temple. No trace of the temple was found on the summit, but a leveled rectangular area of rock, 13 x 9 m, probably indicates its situation. From the fields immediately below the cliff traces of ashlar blocks and columns may well belong to this temple, presumably completely destroyed in the mid 2d c. B.C.

The city was supplied with water from a source more than 3 km to the S, where a small temple stood above the spring. Cemeteries were situated on the E, S, and probably W of the city, while some 400 m NW of the lower hill quarries used during the building of the city are still visible.


L. Mariani, “Antichità Cretesi,” MonAnt 6 (1895) 283-348; F. Halbherr, “Report on the Researches at Praesos,” AJA 5 (1901) 371-92M; E. S. Forster, “Praesos. The Terracottas,” BSA 8 (1902) 271-81I; R. C. Bosanquet, “Excavations at Praesos I,” BSA 8 (1902) 231-70MPI; R. S. Conway, “Prehellenic Inscriptions of Praesos,” BSA 8 (1902) 125-56; F. H. Marshall, “Tombs of Hellenic Date at Praisos,” BSA 12 (1906) 53-70; G. Daux, “Chroniques des Fouilles en 1958,” BCH 83 (1959) 733.


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