A glance into myth, history and the food of Lemnos
Dora Kitinas-Gogos takes a historical look into Lemnos and the food of the mythical region
During one of those formidable arguments between Hera and Zeus - where their son Hephaestus took his mother's side - Zeus, unable to control his temper, picked up his son and threw him from Mount Olympus. He fell on Mount Mosichlos on Lemnos breaking his leg and permanently making him lame. This became his home and the smoke was from the god's furnace.
There he was cared for by the Sintians, a Thracian tribe who are said to have been the first inhabitants of Lemnos, as he was the god of fire, volcanoes, technology, blacksmiths, craftsmen, artisans, sculptors, metals and metallurgy; he gave them the knowledge. Lemnos became a very important part of the myth and legend of Greece and through the millenniums has been conquered many times. The last time it saw foreign invaders was during WWII, the Nazis had their Eastern Mediterranean headquarters there with 12,000 troops and played an extremely important role in WWI for the ANZACS.
Pre-history tells us that the island had two volcanoes. They have been extinct for a long time, but the landscape has clues of the existence of a volcanic presence. This makes the soil very arable and the majority of it is flat except of the northwest, which is mountainous and was the home of the fire god.
If you happen to be a legend and history buff like I am, Lemnos is a must. But as we know, myth and legend become interwoven with history.
The first King of Lemnos was said to have been Thoa. Thoa, was the son of Dionysus and Ariadi, he married Myrina from Iolkos (Media's home) and had a daughter Ypsipili. During this time the women of Lemnos neglected the worship of Aphrodite, (she was Hephaestus wife and drove him crazy with her infidelity), so the goddess punished them by giving them a bad body odour. The husbands then imported concubines from Thrace. But, never cross a Lemnian woman: the men were thrown off the cliff at the Peninsular of Petasos. In time Aphrodite's anger subsided and Jason and the Argonauts arrived on the island. Queen Ipsipili welcomed the Argonauts on Anemoesa (Ανεμόεσσα) another name for Lemnos meaning, wind blown. Ipsipili married Jason, they had a son called Eunios (Εύνηος) the Homeric Lemnian King of Troy.
Lemnos is a north Aegena Island and its geographical position established its history from the mythological period to today. The name Lemnos (Λήμνος) is thought to be pre-history and means "white" (Λευκή) maybe because of its low lying lands and the white vision it presents as seen from the sea. The first time the name Lemnos (Λήμνος) appeared was on the tablets of Pylons (1,200 BC).
Amongst many conquerors the ones that stand out are the Etrusco-Pelasgians, the Cretans at the peak of their power, the Phoenicians, the Athenians, the Persians, Alexander's armies, Venetians, Genoese, Ottomans and the Germens in the 20th century.
The ruins of the oldest human settlement in the Aegean have been unearthed on Lemnos by a team of Greek, Italian and American archaeologists on the coast of Fyssini in the Moudros Municipality. The excavation began in June 2009 and finds brought to light consist mainly of high quality stone tools indicating the Epipaleolithic Period and pointing to a settlement of hunters and gathers and fishermen of the 12 millennium BC.
The island is an archaeological dream. In 1926, members of the Italian School of Archaeology began to excavate on Lemnos, the original purpose being to reveal the island's Etruscan civilization. These excavations were conducted close to the site of the ancient city of Hpheastia where the Pelasgians, according to Herodotus, surrendered to Miltiades of Athens.
They are still digging, but now it's a European Union endeavour and going at a faster pace. When I was living in Greece and visited Lemnos (almost every summer) I used to go and watch the Italians dig and wished I could be doing it with them.
For me the most fascinating excavation on Lemnos is the city of Poliochni dating back 4000BC, which is thought to be the oldest urban settlement in Europe. Many layers have been excavated the last one being 1600 BC which is thought to have been demolished by the volcanic eruption on Santorini. The buildings indicate an advanced civilization with a parliament.
Moving on into more recent ages, the island was a Byzantine province till the Franks arrived and changed rulers between the Franks and the Byzantine many times from 1205 to the 1500s. The fortress in Myrina (the capital and largest town on the island) is said to be the largest in Greece and arguably one of the largest in the Eastern Mediterranean. The version we see today is a combination of a Frankish and Ottoman fortress, but it is built on the foundation of an ancient one.
Lemnos joined the Greek kingdom after the Balkan Wars (1912-13). From Moudros Bay in 1915 the Allies launched their unsuccessful invasion of the Dardanelles; in the same bay, the Allied armistice with Turkey was concluded in 1918. Many ANZACS are buried there. In WWII Lemnos saw the horror of the Nazis who established it as their headquarters for that part of the world and I have heard many stories from my father who, as a very young man, was involved in the resistance. He was caught and was about to be executed, but escaped and continued to create havoc for them.
It is an island with countless beaches, 30 that are accessible from land but many more by boat, so many that you can claim your own personal one without seeing another soul. I have done it often and once my car broke down in the middle of the summer heat, but there is always someone you can ring to help and I was soon home. It has sand dunes, wetlands that are protected for the migrating birds. The commercial beaches have cafes, taverns, beach lounges and all the comforts for a day on the beach when you are done exploring.
- Register Now
- Hawke labels Coalition's parental leave plan 'poor policy'
- Kewell dumped by Al Gharafa
- Eurovision 2013: The kitsch and the high notes
- AEK set for liquidation and third tier
- Ancient Greek should be funded by community
- Greece issues fines of 170 million euros in April for tax evasion
- Greeks abroad may help Greece and Cyprus recovery
- Raptis disputes $21m tax debt
- Thanasi you're a scholar!
- 8 May 2013 | 12 Votes
- 19 Apr 2013 | 9 Votes
- 8 May 2013 | 8 Votes
- 3 May 2013 | 8 Votes
- 15 May 2013 | 8 Votes
- 13 May 2013 | 7 Votes
Mum's the word for a special comedy event for the Pansamian House
Award winning Melbourne photographer Bill Gekas talks about his muse, 5-year-old daughter Athena, and pushing boundaries with portrait photography
AEK Athens said it was preparing to declare bankruptcy and seek relegation to the third division
Greece will get 86 million euros for curbing illegal immigration
Is Greek Easter the only time young Greek Australians make it to church? Neos Kosmos investigates what draws young parishioners.
Moyne mayor Jim Doukas says the State government has unfairly dumped permit approval on Councils
With aid clinched, Greek government shifts to reforms
The government issued civil mobilisation papers to some 88,000 teachers who face arrest and possible dismissal if they fail to turn up for work this week
Panathinaikos finishes sixth after downing Xanthi 3-0 in playoff
Asteras Tripolis sees off PAOK to face Olympiakos in Cup final
The schemes allowing the owners of properties that breached building regulations to protect their homes from demolition are illegal says the Council of State
The plight of migrants in the fields of Greece
NSW is Australia's first state to recognise the genocides and hopes are that other states will follow
Gillard reaffirms Australia's commitment to Greek issues
The FFA has been very cautious in selecting who will be part of the A-League, fearing soccer will become a race-driven game again
Sunk in recession for the past six years and struggling to steer its economy through painful austerity cuts, Greece now faces a fertility crisis as well.
Urban guerrilla group Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire and a string of armed robberies remain in custody
An iconography exhibition promising to inspire and uplift all those who are artistically inclined will be held during the Orthodox Holy Week.