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Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)


ALASSARNA (Ancient city) KOS
  Halisarna (Halisarna or Halasarne), a town on the south coast on the island of Cos, near Cape Laceterium. (Strab. xiv. p. 657; comp. Ross, Reisen auf den Griech. Inseln, vol. iii. p. 136, and iv. p. 22.)


  Cos (Kos, Koos; Cos, P. Mela; Cous, Liv., Tac.; Cea, Plin.: Eth. Koos (Kotes in modern Greek): Stanko, or Stanchio, a corruption of es tan Ko), an island in the Myrtoan sea, one of the most renowned of that beautiful chain, which covers the western shore of Asia Minor. One of its earlier names was Meropis (Thuc. viii. 41), another was Nymphaea (Plin. v. 31. s. 36). It appears from an inscription mentioned by Ross, that it was called Lango in the time of the Knights. Its situation is nearly opposite the gulf of Halicarnassus, and it is separated by a narrow strait from Cnidus and the Triopian promontory. Its length lies NE. and SW. Strabo gives the names of three promontories, Scandarium on the NE., Lacter on the S. (with the town of Halisarna near it), and Drecanon on the W. (near the town of Stomalimne). Its principal city, bearing the name of the island, was near the first of these promontories, in lat. 36° 53' and long. 27° 17'. The circumference of the island, according to Strabo (xiv. p. 657), was 550 stadia, and according to Pliny 100 Roman miles; but neither of these dimensions is correct: the true circumference is about 65 geographical miles, and the length about 23. The relation of Cos to the neighbouring coast and islands is vividly illustrated by such voyages as those which are described in Liv. xxxvii. 16; Lucan viii.244-250; Act. Apost. xx. xxi.
  Tradition connects the earliest Greek inhabitants of Cos with a migration from Epidaurus; and the common worship of Aesculapius seems to have maintained a link between the two down to a late period. (Paus, iii. 23. § 4; Muller, Dor. bk. i. ch. 6.) In Homer we find the people of the island fighting against the Carians. (Il. ii. 677, 867.) As we approach the period of distinct history, the city of Cos appears as a member of the Dorian Pentapolis, whose sanctuary was on the Triopian promontory. (Herod. i. 144.) Under the Athenian rule it had no walls, and it was first fortified by Alcibiades at the close of the Peloponnesian War. (Thuc. viii. 108) In subsequent times it shared the general fate of the neighbouring coasts and islands. For its relations with Rhodes in the wars against Antiochus and the Romans, see Polyb. xxx. 7; and Livy, l. c. The emperor Claudius bestowed upon it the privileges of a free state (Tac. Ann. xii. 61), and Antoninus Pius rebuilt the city, after it had been destoyed by an earthquake. (Paus. viii. 43). The ancient constitution of the island seems to have been monarchical, and traces of its continuance are observed in an inscription as late as Vespasian. It was illustrious as the birthplace of Ptolemy Philadelphus (Theoc. xvii. 57), and of the painter Apelles, and the physician Hippocrates. An interesting inscription (Beckh, No. 2502) associates it with Herod the tetrarch, whose father had conferred many favours on Cos, as we learn from Josephus (B. J. i. 21. § 11).
  The present mixed population of Greeks and Turks amounts to about 8000. The island still gives proof of the natural productiveness which was celebrated by Strabo. It was known in the old world for its ointment and purple dye, but especially for its wines (Hor. Sat. ii. 4, 29; Pers. Sat. v. 135), and the light transparent dresses called Coae vestes. (Tibull. ii. 3. 53; Propert. i. 2.) The island is generally mountainous, especially on the south and west: but there is a large tract of level and fruitful ground towards the north and east.
  The most ancient capital was called Astypalaea, the position of which is extremely doubtful. The city of Cos itself has continued to our own times. An unhealthy lagoon, on the north of the modern town, marks the position of the ancient harbour. Close to it is the Turkish castle, which Christian travellers are not allowed to enter. In its walls are some elaborate sculptures, which may perhaps have belonged to the Aslepieium or temple of Aesculapius. This sanctuary was anciently the object of greatest interest in the island. A school of physicians was attached to it, and its great collection of votive models made it almost a museum of anatomy and pathology. Strabo describes the temple as standing in a suburb of the town: but the site has not been yet positively identified.
  An account of Cos will be found in Clarke's Travels, vol. ii. pt. i. pp. 196-213, and vol. ii. pt. ii. pp. 321-333. But the best description is in Ross, Reisen nach Kos, Halicarsnassos, u. s. w. (Halle, 1852), with which his Reisen auf den Griech. Inseln should be compared, vol. ii. pp. 86-92, vol. iii. pp. 126-139. There is a monograph on the island by Kuster (De Co Insula, Halle, 1833), and a very useful paper on the subject by Col. Leake (in the Trans. of the Royal Soc. of Literature, vol. i., second series). Both Leake and Ross give a map of Cos, reduced from the recent survey.

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited August 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities


   An island of the Aegean, one of the Sporades, west of the promontory of Doris. Its more ancient names were Cea, Staphylus, Nymphaea, and Meropis, of which the last was the most common. The colonizing of this island must have taken place at a very early date, since Homer makes mention of it as a populous settlement The inhabitants were of Dorian origin, and closely connected with the Doric colonies on the mainland. Its chief city was Cos, anciently called Astypalaea. Strabo remarks that the city of Cos was not large, but very populous, and seen to great advantage by those who came thither by sea. Without the walls was a celebrated temple of Aesculapius, enriched with many admirable works of art, and among others, two famous paintings of Apelles, the Antigonus and Aphrodite Anadyomene. The latter painting was so much admired that Augustus removed it to Rome and consecrated it to Iulius Caesar; and in consideration of the loss thus inflicted on the Coans, he is said to have remitted a tribute of one hundred talents which had been laid on them. Besides the great painter just mentioned, Cos could boast of ranking among her sons the first physician of antiquity, Hippocrates. The soil of the island was very productive, especially in wine, which vied with those of Chios and Lesbos. It was also celebrated for its purple dye, and for its manufacture of a species of transparent silk stuff.

This text is cited Oct 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

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Municipality of Dikeon

DIKEOS (Municipality) KOS

Municipality of Kos


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  Second largest of the Dodecanese Island, off the southwestern coast of Asia Minor, at the entrance of the Gulf of Cos, and its main city, at its northeastern end.
  Cos was one of six cities of Dorian origin in that part of Caria called Doris that had gathered in a confederacy having its common sanctuary, a temple to Apollo, on the promontory on which Cnidus was located, named the Triopion. Together they formed what used to be called the Hexapolis (in Greek, “the six cities”) until Halicarnassus was excluded and they became the Pentapolis (in Greek, “the five cities”).
  Cos was the birthplace of Hippocrates, the founder of a famous school of medicine, and the site of a famed sanctuary of Asclepius, the God of medicine.

Bernard Suzanne (page last updated 1998), ed.
This text is cited July 2003 from the Plato and his dialogues URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks.

Perseus Encyclopedia Site Text


Kos is the second largest island in the Dodecanese group after Rhodes, measuring 43 km in length and between 2 and 11 km in width. The northeastern tip of Kos comes within 4 km of the Halicarnassus peninsula in Turkey while the eastern part of the island is hilly and rises to its height on Mt. Oromedon (846 km). The most fertile land on Kos is on the northern slopes of Mt. Oromedon and in the plain around the capital city, Kos. Kos is famous for the Asklepieion, a sanctuary of Asclepius, which lies 6 km from the main town. The island was renowned for its physicians in antiquity.

Perseus Project

Cos, Kos, Meropian

Present location

Stambalia, Palatia

ASTYPALEA (Ancient city) KOS

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites


  An island of the S Sporades group. The Iliad (2.676) speaks of the participation of Kos in the Trojan War under the leadership of the Heraclidae Phidippos and Antiphos; they are to have succeeded the first dynasty of the island, which was Thessalian. In archaic times Kos was a Doric oligarchy; it became part of the political and religious union that included Lindos, Kamiros, Ialysos, Knidos, and Halikarnassos. At the end of the 6th c. B.C. Kos fell under Persian domination, but rebelled after the Greek victory at Cape Mykale in 479 B.C. In 477 the island entered the Delio-Attic League, and during the Peloponnesian war it participated in the expedition to Sicily as an ally of Athens. In 410 B.C. Alkibiades left an Athenian garrison on the island, and it was subsequently occupied by the Spartans under Lysander. Only after Knidos had done so did Kos become re-allied with Athens in 394 B.C., and the island was also a member of the Second Maritime League.
  Following a synoecism, probably promoted by the family of the Asklepiads of Isthmos in the W part of the island, the capital was transferred from Astypalaia to the site of the modern city (Diod. 15.762; Strab. 14.657). In 357 B.C. the island fought against Athens in the social war, and passed under the control of Mausolos, King of Caria. After the victory of Alexander the Great at Halikarnassos in 334 B.C., Kos became part of the Macedonian domain. After 309 B.C. Kos was linked to the dynasty of the Lagidi until the naval battle of 260 B.C. in which the Ptolemies were defeated by Antigonos Gonatas, King of Macedonia. Later the island came under the influence of Rhodes, but from the beginning of the 2d c. B.C. entered into the Roman orbit. Kos was occupied and sacked by Mithridates in 88 B.C., but continued to have good relations with Rome and was a civitas libera of the province of Asia. In A.D. 53, under Claudius, the island was declared immunis. Antoninus Pius aided in its recovery after the terrible earthquake in 142. In the time of Diocletian Kos was part of the Provincia insularum, and later was annexed to the Eastern Empire. In this period the island suffered two violent earthquakes, in A.D. 469 and 554. The latter destroyed the city.
  Excavations in the city and elsewhere on the island were begun in 1900-1904 and continued in 1922-43. The site of the modern city was occupied in very ancient times. In the zone called the Seraglio in the S central part of the city a habitation site from the Bronze Age has been explored, in which the earliest identifiable strata belong to the Middle Bronze Age and the most recent to the end of the Late Bronze Age. Related to this habitation site are the necropoleis of Eleona and Langada SW of the modern city, which were excavated in 1935 and 1940. Material from the three phases of Late Bronze Age III included imported Mycenaean pottery and locally made imitations.
  Above the Mycenaean habitation site is a protogeometric necropolis, but the settlement has not been found. The latest tombs in the necropolis date from the end of the 8th c. B.C. Later finds are scarce and sporadic, and apparently the site was not reoccupied until 366 B.C. when the city was founded after the synoecism. On the other hand, the sources (Thuc. 8.41.2; Diod. 13.42.3) speak of Kos Meropis during the Classical period, a city which must have been situated on the sea near the new Kos of 366, but which was probably not a center of major importance. The new city of 366 B.C., with a geometric plan following the principles of Hippodamos was enclosed by a wall of volcanic stone, of which several sections have been found. Its perimeter is calculated as 3-4 km. The port was left outside the wall to the N, but was protected by two sections of wall that were detached on the E and W from the principal wall. In the 2d c. B.C., in connection with a general restoration of buildings in the city for which white marble from local quarries was freely used, the wall was restored with limestone worked in boss-like projections.
  Some interesting monuments have been brought to light in the port area, including a shrine from the 2d c. B.C. with a rectangular plan. A few courses of the marble superstructure survive, on an earthen foundation that seems to be older; it is surrounded by a 3d c. A.D. building with a series of rooms on four sides. There are also remains of a travertine stoa, built in the 4th-3d c. B.C. and remodeled in the 3d c. A.D., which are visible between the foundation walls of a basilica built above it in the 5th c. A.D. The basilica had three aisles preceded by an atrium and a narthex, and a square baptistery. The principal monument in this area is a sanctuary, of which the foundations remain: a Doric quadriporticus on a high podium with two propylaea in front, and an internal esplanade with two matching tetrastyle temples which have high flights of steps in front. The sanctuary, attributed to Aphrodite Pandemos and Pontia, was erected in the 2d c. B.C. and must have been the first monumental structure seen by those arriving by sea. At the extreme NW of the port area a bath building from the 3d c. A.D. has been found.
  The agora, ca. 82 m wide, was built against the N side of the N city wall, extending out from its E part. It was enclosed by its own wall on the other three sides, and a section of the W side, built in the 4th-3d c. B.C., remains. A road circled the wall on the outside. The inside of the walls formed the backs of wide porticos which were reconstructed in marble in the 2d c. B.C., with Doric columns fluted for two-thirds of their height. The pavement, remade in the 2d c. B.C., was of regular slabs of marble. The S side, recently excavated, extended as far as the altar of Dionysos and a Doric temple in antis, both of the 2d c. B.C. In the Roman period the walls on the N side, which had fallen in the earthquake during the reign of Antoninus Pius, were rebuilt with a monumental entrance. The opening had three large arches, which on the interior corresponded to rooms with barrel vaults decorated with plaster. In front of the arches a grand marble staircase descended to the area of the port.
  In the N part of the W zone of the city are the badly damaged remains of large bath buildings datable to the 3d c. A.D. There is also a stadium built against the E slope of a small hill. Its original plan, with simple benches in travertine, is attributable to the first phase of the city. The aphesis, of which the stylobate and several bases of semi-columns in marble built against pilasters survive, belongs to the 2d c. B.C. The W tribune dates to the Roman age, the 3d c. A.D. Farther S, but still in the W section, is a monumental complex including a gymnasium of the 2d c. B.C., the xyston of which has been partly restored; E of the gymnasium were large baths. After the earthquake of A.D. 469, which destroyed the baths, the frigidarium and several other rooms were transformed into a basilica. Mosaic pavements in ornate geometric designs have been found. Another church with a baptistery was built in the caldarium.
  On the E the baths were bounded by the cardo maximus, and its paving of large irregular slabs, of the 3d c. A.D., is preserved under the level corresponding to the Early Christian basilicas. Part of a travertine portico of the 4th-3d c. B.C. survives E of the cardo, and S of the portico is a public latrine, also contemporary with the baths, which has been entirely reconstructed. It has a square plan with an interior gallery on three sides; the sewer ran along the back wall. The gallery consists of Ionic columns surmounted by arches in brick with vaults. On the fourth side of the latrine is a fountain with three niches and basins, and behind that an access corridor with the entrance to the cardo. Farther S the cardo intersects the decumanus, 150 m of which have been brought to light towards the W. It is ca. 10.5 m wide, including the sidewalks, had porticos on both sides, and also dates from the 3d c. A.D.
  Near the intersection of cardo and decumanus is the Odeion, with rectilinear walls enclosing the cavea, which is supported by two semicircular vaulted galleries. The circular orchestra was decorated in opus-sectile with a design of intertwined squares. Three open doorways in the scena lead to a room behind. A loggia probably ran above the summa cavea. A last large public building, not yet completely excavated, is the theater, dating like the Odeion from the 3d c. A.D. Near the S walls of the city, it has a semicircular orchestra and cavea with the marble tiers built against a hillside. Especially to N and S of the decumanus there are interesting private houses, arranged in regular city blocks.
  At the corner of the decumanus and the cardo is the House of the Mosaic of Europa, which constitutes an entire block. The house has a trapezoidal plan and a central porticoed courtyard, from which open various rooms. Another block S of the decumanus is occupied by a large socalled Roman house, with two peristyles and a courtyard with windows. Many mosaics have been found in the houses, featuring figured scenes and geometric designs. In the House of the Mosaic of Silenus, for example, mosaics of a boar hunt and of a battle between gladiators, datable to the 2d-3d c. A.D., have been found, in addition to the mosaic for which it is named. A nearby house has mosaics of the 3d-4th c. A.D., showing the Muses and Eros depicted as a fisherman. Among mosaics worth mentioning from the W zone of the city are Orpheus and the animals, Hunting and Fishing, and The Judgment of Paris, of the early 3d c. A.D.
  Near the city of Kos is the sanctuary of Asklepios. The healing god was venerated from the earliest times on the island, which was also the home of Hippokrates, the most famous physician of antiquity. In the beginning the sanctuary had only an altar in the place which had originally been the sanctuary of Apollo Kyparissios. Only after the death of Hippokrates, about the middle of the 4th c. B.C., was the construction of the Asklepieion begun, and its completion and embellishment took a long time. The first plan consisted of the temple of the god with the altar decorated by the sons of Praxiteles, and of the abaton, the room in which the sick awaited the god. The sanctuary, excavated in 1901, in its final form consisted of four terraces joined by stairways, with heavy foundation walls. In the lower quarter is a small Roman bath building, from which one may ascend to the large baths added in the 3d c. A.D. to the E part of the third terrace, with an apsidal basilica and frigidarium. The principal access to the third terrace, enclosed by porticos on three sides, was by a Doric propylaion; its foundations and a wide stairway are preserved. From the porticos opened various rooms for the sick. At the center of the second terrace the foundation of the altar of Asklepios is visible. To the right is the Ionic temple of the god, of the early 3d c. B.C., in which votive offerings were deposited. To the left is another temple of the Imperial age. Nearby are the remains of a lesche with a portico. An exedra and a building to house the priests, of which little remain, were located at the foot of the stairway to the terrace above. The uppermost terrace was constructed during an enlargement of the complex in the 2d c. B.C. It contains the six-columned Doric peripteral temple of the god, enclosed by porticos.
  In the S part of the island not far from the village of Kephalos, on an upland near the church of the Panaghia Palatiane, are the remains of polygonal walls. These belong to the site of ancient Astypalaia, the principal city of the island before the synoecism, which was probably founded after the Doric invasion. Ceramic material from the 9th c. B.C. found at the site support the identification. Near Kephalos there are two small Doric temples in antis and a Hellenistic theater with a semicircular orchestra and seats of trachyte. Not far away, near the SE coast, excavations in the grotto of Aspripetra have brought to light a cult place active from the Neolithic period until the 4th-3d c. B.C., when Pan and the Nymphs were venerated there. A Hellenistic theater built against a hill has been excavated near Kardamena; the cavea is preserved to the height of three tiers of seats. In the same area inscriptions attest that ruins near the church of Haghia Theotes belonged to a sanctuary of Apollo. In the center of the island, at Pyli, a vaulted hypogeum in which are incorporated elements of Doric entablature from the Hellenistic age has been found under a village church. It is popularly identified as the Heroon of Charmylos, a local mythological hero. There is a tract of Cyclopean wall near the abandoned medieval fortress of Palaio Pyli, and Mycenaean pottery fragments from the area may indicate a Bronze Age settlement. Between Pyli and Asfendiu is a sanctuary of Demeter and Kore, with a little Hellenistic temple in which marble votive statues were found.
  Both in the city of Kos and elsewhere on the island are interesting Early Christian basilicas, with splendid mosaics, that date from the period between the earthquakes of A.D. 469 and 554. The sculpture and ceramics from the excavations are preserved in the archaeological museum at Kos.

M. G. Picozzi, 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.

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