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SYBRITA or Sybritos (Thronos) Amari district, Crete.

On a hill (Kephala, 618 m) dominating the watershed at the NW end of the enclosed and fertile Asomatos valley. Although remote, the city controlled the main route W of Mt. Ida from the S coast and Mesara plain to the N coast. First settled before the end of the Minoan period, it survived into the first Byzantine period. It was more important than the sparse literary and epigraphic references (mostly ca. 200 B.C.) indicate. Little is known of its history, but it was one of the early Cretan cities to strike coins (5th c. on), and was prosperous in the late archaic-Classical period; archaeological evidence shows that it flourished in the Hellenistic period and the 3d c. A.D. (in each case because of its position, during periods of flourishing trade). The city had a port on the S coast only (Soulia). Its fine coins portray Dionysos and Hermes (apparently the main deities), also Zeus and Apollo (?). To the city may belong the cult of Hermes Kranaios in a cave near Patsos to the W (dedications of LM III to the Roman period, but not all periods represented). Coins show that it was then, as now, a wine-producing area.

The summit of Kephala formed the acropolis, and its lower terraces (mainly on the SW) the city area; some stretches of fine isodomic ashlar and a gate belonging to the city wall circuit (probably Hellenistic) have been found on the E side, but the line on the W is not certain though the location of an ancient necropolis at Yenna defines its maximum extent. Geometric sherds, archaic sherds and figurines, and Classical bronzeware and figurines have been found, but no related structures. On the slopes of Kephala are a number of terrace walls of uncertain date, and on the main SW terrace (Sta Marmara) are houses of the 3d-2d c. B.C. and a Late Roman house with mosaic. A number of large Roman buildings lie under the village of Thronos on the S terrace of Kephala, and the Early Christian basilica (probably 5th c.) with mosaics lies under the modern church and square. The temple of Dionysos may have been just SW of the summit of Kephala; on its W slope a terrace (Ellinika) has remains of houses, and higher up is the only spring on the acropolis slope itself. There was apparently a sanctuary at Ayia Photini near the watershed. The ancient necropoleis lay at Yenna to the SW, where most of the surviving gravestones were found, and at Sta Pelekita near Klisidi to the NE. In the Roman period settlement was less concentrated within the city area, and by late antiquity some of that area was no longer occupied for graves have been found inside the E wall. Besides the basilica, a number of remains of late brick and stone buildings survive W of Thronos.


T.A.B. Spratt, Travels and Researches in Crete II (1865) 102-9; J.-N. Svoronos, Numismatique de la Crète ancienne (1890; repr. 1972) 313-16 & Suppl. p. 375; L. Mariani, MonAnt 6 (1895) 215-17I; F. Halbherr, AJA 1st ser. 11 (1896) 589ff; R. Paribeni, MonAnt 18 (1907) 374-76; Honigmann, “Sybrita,” RE IV A1 (1931) 1012; M. Guarducci, ICr II (1939) 289-98; T. J. Dunbabin, “Antiquities of Amari,” BSA 42 (1947) 184-90; E. Kirsten, “Siedlungsgeschichtliche Forschungen in West-Kreta,” in F. Matz (ed.), Forschungen auf Kreta, 1942 (1951) 118-52MI; K. D. Kalokyris, KretChron 13 (1959) 7-38PI; S. Hood et al., BSA 59 (1964) 71-72; G. Le Rider, Monnaies Crétoises (Études Crétoises 15: 1966).


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