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Koufonisia
Category: Island
Prefecture: Lassithi
Address: Crete
Telephone:
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Koufonisia


The most important monuments of the area are:

The Theatre.

At the northeastern end of Kouphonesi, opposite the Marmara islet, and at a small distance from the beach, excavations have brought to light a well preserved stone-built theatre; the cavea had twelve rows of seats and a capacity of c. 1000 persons. Part of the cavea and the stone seats are not preserved today. The orchestra, almost semicircular in shape, was paved with clay slabs. The stage building (measuring 20 x 19 m.) is destroyed in the western part, but the eastern part, the paraskenion, the logeion, the hyposkenion and the east parodos, which had a tholos roof are preserved. It seems that the theatre was severely looted and destroyed by fanatic Christians in the 4th century A.D.

The Public Baths (Balineae).

The second important building of the settlement was in use from the 1st until the 4th century A.D. This bath complex, a typical Roman edifice, includes all rooms which were in use in such a building: a garden (for the rest of the customers and visitors) around which are arranged rooms; the central space - with walls preserved to a height of 4 m. - two hypocausts, saunas and changing rooms.

The Settlement.

It extends to the SE of the theatre. Very characteristic is a villa with eight rooms preserved; it has an imposing propylon, kitchens, and a domestic workshop for the working of murex shells. Two of its rooms have floors lined with black and white tesserae, forming geometric patterns.

The Temple.

It lies in the southern part of the island, and measures 18 x 15.70 m. It is preserved to the height of the crepis, and has a central entrance on the narrow east side, and a second, stepped entrance on the north. The temple is largely destroyed as its stones were used as building material for the construction of the light-house. Two large pieces of a colossal cult statue (more than 2.5 m. high) representing an enthroned deity were found near the NW corner of the temple.

Cisterns.

Very impressive are a series of spacious tholos cisterns which provided water carried from sources with built pipes.

Caves on the west coast.

They have been used as chapels and preserve engraved representations of saints, and Latin inscriptions (one recording the year 1638).

Because Lefki was an important station of sponge fishing and purple processing (shells from which the valuable and very expensive deep red colour was obtained) and because its position was of strategic importance, mainly for the anchoring of ships in the southeastern coasts, it was the apple of discord between the two cities and finally Itanos won.

Habitation on the island was continuous from the Early Minoan times (3000-2200 B.C.) to the Paleochristian times and was deserted int he 4th century A.D. The few interventions (mainly farming and livestock farming) provide the opportunity to preserve the antiquities as the island remained uninhabited, despite the largest part of its surface being covered with sand. 

At the northeastern edge of Koufonissi, opposite the isle Marmara and at a small distance from the beach, the excavations brought to light a well preserved stone theatre; ; the cavea had twelve rows of seats and a capacity of c. 1000 persons. Part of the cavea and the stone seats are not preserved today. The orchestra, almost semicircular in shape, was paved with clay slabs. The stage building (measuring 20 x 19 m.) is destroyed in the western part, but the eastern part, the paraskenion, the logeion, the hyposkenion and the east parodos, which had a tholos roof are preserved. It seems that the theatre was severely looted and destroyed by fanatic Christians in the 4th century A.D.

The second important building of the settlement was the public bath (Balineae), was in use from the 1st until the 4th century A.D. This bath complex, a typical Roman edifice, includes all rooms which were in use in such a building: a garden (for the rest of the customers and visitors) around which are arranged rooms; the central space - with walls preserved to a height of 4 m. - two hypocausts, saunas and changing rooms.

The Settlement extends to the SE of the theatre. Very characteristic is a villa, with eight rooms preserved; it has an imposing propylon, kitchens, and a domestic workshop for the working of murex shells. . Two of its rooms have floors lined with black and white tesserae, forming geometric patterns.  In the southern part of the island there is a temple with dimensions 18 x 15.70 m. It is preserved to the height of the crepis, and has a central entrance on the narrow east side, and a second, stepped entrance on the north. The temple is largely destroyed as its stones were used as building material for the construction of the light-house. Two large pieces of a colossal cult statue (more than 2.5 m. high) representing an enthroned deity were found near the NW corner of the temple.

Very impressive is a series of spacious "tholos" cisterns which provided water carried from sources with built pipes. . In the west coast, caves have been used as chapels and preserve engraved representations of saints, and Latin inscriptions (one recording the year 1638).

The English admiral Th. Spratt was the first to visit the island in the middle of the past century and described the ruins he spotted in detail: A temple in the south with pieces of a marble statue, a settlement in the north of the island and water cisterns in its centre. 

In 1903 the British archeologists R. C. Bosanquet and Ct. Curelly visited the site to confirm what Spratt had reported, and in 1971 Α. Leonard (Junior) made a more careful surface research. In 1976 a systematic excavation was started by N. Papadakis of the 24th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities and it is continued to the present day.

Places near Koufonisia


ancient theater
ancient theater 346 hits

At the northeastern end of Kouphonesi, opposite the Marmara islet, and at a small distance from the beach, excavations have brought to light a well preserved stone-built theatre; the cavea had twelve rows of seats and a capacity of c. 1000 persons. Part of the cavea and the stone seats are not preserved today. The orchestra, almost semicircular in shape, was paved with clay slabs. The stage building (measuring 20 x 19 m.) is destroyed in the western part, but the eastern part, the paraskenion, the logeion, the hyposkenion and the east parodos, which had a tholos roof are preserved. It seems that the theatre was severely looted and destroyed by fanatic Christians in the 4th century A.D.

Ancient Ruins
Ancient Ruins 345 hits
The island of Leuke is mentioned by Pliny. A special mention is also made in the inscription known as the "Diaitesia (arbitration) of the Magnetes", built in the facade of the catholicon (main church) of the Toplou Monastery. The inscription refers to the conflict between Itanos and Ierapytna. Leuke was an important station of sponge collecting and mainly, of the working of murex shells, from which the famous, precious and expensive purple dye was extracted; moreover, its position was strategic mainly for the ships that stopped on the south-east coasts, and as a result became a reason of conflict between the two cities. Itanos was justified in the end. 

Leuke was continuously inhabited from the Early Minoan (3000-2200 B.C.) until the Early Christian period and was finally abandoned in the 4th century A.D. The very restricted human presence on the island thereafter (it was used only for cultivation and stock-breeding) greatly contributed to the preservation of the antiquities as it actually remained uninhabited, although the largest part of its surface was covered with sand. 

The English admiral Th. Spratt was the first who visited the island in the middle of the 19th century and made detailed descriptions of the ancient remains he managed to locate: a temple in the south, with fragments of a marble statue, a settlement in the northern part of the island, and water cisterns in the centre. In 1903, the English archaeologists R.C. Bosanquet and Ct. Curelly conducted a survey to locate the ruins mentioned by Spratt, while in 1971 A. Leonard Jr. carried out a more thorough investigation. Systematic excavation started in 1976 by N. Papadakis of the 24th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities and is still in progress.
The most important monuments of the area are: 

The Theatre. At the north-east end of Kouphonesi, opposite the Marmara islet, and at a small distance from the beach, excavations have brought to light a well preserved stone-built theatre; the cavea had twelve rows of seats and a capacity of c. 1000 persons. Part of the cavea and the stone seats are not preserved today. The orchestra, almost semicircular in shape, was paved with clay slabs. The stage building (measuring 20 x 19 m.) is destroyed in the western part, but the eastern part, the paraskenion, the logeion, the hyposkenion and the east parodos, which had a tholos roof are preserved. It seems that the theatre was severely looted and destroyed by fanatic Christians in the 4th century A.D. 

The Public Baths (Balineae). The second important building of the settlement was in use from the 1st until the 4th century A.D. This bath complex, a typical Roman edifice, includes all rooms which were in use in such a building: a garden (for the rest of the customers and visitors) around which are arranged rooms; the central space - with walls preserved to a height of 4 m. - two hypocausts, saunas and changing rooms. 

The Settlement. It extends to the SE of the theatre. Very characteristic is a villa with eight rooms preserved; it has an imposing propylon, kitchens, and a domestic workshop for the working of murex shells. Two of its rooms have floors lined with black and white tesserae, forming geometric patterns. 

The Temple. It lies in the southern part of the island, and measures 18 x 15.70 m. It is preserved to the height of the crepis, and has a central entrance on the narrow east side, and a second, stepped entrance on the north. The temple is largely destroyed as its stones were used as building material for the construction of the light-house. Two large pieces of a colossal cult statue (more than 2.5 m. high) representing an enthroned deity were found near the NW corner of the temple. 

Cisterns. Very impressive are a series of spacious tholos cisterns which provided water carried from sources with built pipes. 

Caves on the west coast. They have been used as chapels and preserve engraved representations of saints, and Latin inscriptions (one recording the year 1638).