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Information about the place (4)
The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites
On the W side of the Gulf of Mirabello, just N of Ag. Nikolnos, N
coast of Crete. The remains of the ancient city lie on both sides of the isthmus
which joins the peninsula of Spinalonga to the mainland; the area of the site
is known as Poros.
Ancient literary sources merely locate the site. In late sources (e.g.
Notitiae) the name has been corrupted to Alyngos. Most of our knowledge of the
city's history is derived from inscriptions of the Hellenistic period. In one
of post 260 B.C. Olous appears as a subordinate ally of Knossos. A number of 3d
and 2d c. inscriptions show the city's close relations with Rhodes; in particular,
parts of a treaty between Rhodes and Olous dating from 201-200 have been discovered
in recent years, by which Rhodes secured a great measure of control over Olous
and her ports and anchorages, as she did over those of Hierapytna in the same
year. Ptolemaic admirals had been honored at Olous at about the time of the Chremonidean
war in the 260s. Olous does not appear among the cities of the Cretan koinon in
the treaty with Eumenes II in 183, either because she was then subject to her
neighbor Lato or because of her links with Egypt. A boundary dispute between Olous
and Lato was referred to the Knossians for arbitration (117-116/116-115 B.C.);
continuing wrangles led to Roman intervention and confirmation by the Senate of
the Knossians' decision on the boundary line (ca. 113; see Sta Lenika).
Coins of ca. 330-280 B.C. are known, depicting in particular the heads
of Britomartis and Zeus Tallaios. The latter was clearly the chief deity of Olous,
in whose temple many inscriptions were displayed; for the same reason the cult
of Asklepios must also have been important. Pausanias (9.40.3) mentions a statue
of Britomartis by Daidalos at Olous. None of their temples at Olous has been found.
There is clear evidence that the site has been submerged by at least
2 m since antiquity, probably mainly as a result of land movements: by the actual
isthmus some remains of houses are visible in shallow water. The channel at the
isthmus was dug for the local fishermen by French sailors who occupied the area
in 1897; their finds included the large stele now in the Louvre. The only ruins
still clearly visible E of the isthmus are those of an Early Christian basilica
with a mosaic in the nave.
Few remains of the archaic and Classical periods have been found,
but part of the massive E wall of the city still stood 6 courses high in the 19th
c. Graeco-Roman sherds have been found at Kolokythia Bay on the E side of the
peninsula, and at the N end of Spinalonga is an islet fortified by the Venetians;
no earlier remains are visible. There are many rock inscriptions around the peninsula.
West of the isthmus a few walls have been found, but the area served
mainly as a cemetery. Graves with coffins or pithoi of the LM IIIB period have
been found, and the Hellenistic necropolis with funerary inscriptions. Just to
the N lies a significant Middle Minoan settlement, and a few Early Minoan pots
have been found.
Just within the territory of Olous, to the SW, a prominent hilltop
bears remains of a fort of uncertain (ancient) date (Mt. Oxa). Farther N another
fort at Stis Pines guarded the road to Dreros. Just S of Mt. Oxa lies the site
of Sta Lenika in Latian territory.
D. J. Blackman, ed.
This text is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites,
Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Nov 2002 from
Perseus Project URL below, which contains bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.
Ancient Site of Olous
From Elounda a causeway leads to the island of Spinalonga and the
sunken city of Olous. Olous was built on the neck of the land that joins Crete
with the peninsula of Spinalonga. Olous was an ancient Greek town in which the
statue of Vritomartis once stood. When the weather is calm the remains of Olous
can be seen on the sea bottom. Archaeologists have done very little excavating
here but an inscription from the second century B.C. was found referring to an
alliance between Olous, Lato, and Knossos indicating the importance of this ancient
city. Another inscription of the same era refers to a treaty of Olous with Rhodes.
Other finds in the area include rock tombs with funerary objects which are on
display in the Agios Nikolaos Museum.
This text is cited Feb 2003 from the Crete TOURnet URL below, which contains images.
- Olus, Olous: Perseus Lookup Tool, text search
Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)
Olous, Oloulis, Eth. Oloutioi, Olouti. A town of Crete, the citizens
of which had entered into a treaty with those of Lato. (Bockh, Inscr. vol. ii.
No. 2554.) There was a temple to Britomartis in this city, a wooden statue of
whom was erected by Daedalus, the mythical ancestor of the Daedalidae, and father
of Cretan art. (Pausan. ix. 40. § 3.) Her effigy is represented on the coins of
Olus. (Eckhel, vol. ii. p. 316; Mionnet, Descr. vol. ii. p. 289; Combe, Mus. Hunter.)
There is considerable difficulty in making out the position of this town; but
the site may probably be represented by Aliedha near Spina Longa, where there
are ruins. Mr. Pashley's map erroneously identifies these with Naxos.
This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited June 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
- Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD)
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