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The acropolis of Lindos

According to the myths, the acropolis of ancient Lindos is the birth place of the cult of a pre-hellenic deity, which later on became Athena Lindia (Minerva). However, so far, the tradition has not been confirmed by archaeological evidence. Only sporadic finds have been brought to light from prehistoric times and from the Mycenaean period. In fact, the history of the sanctuary seems to begin in the Geometric period, during the 9 th century b.C. Later on, in the Archaic period, the cult was revived, thanks to Cleobulus, the tyrant of Lindos, who had constructed a big temple, probably on the place of an earlier one. This new temple had the same Doric tetrastyle amphiprostyle plan as the subsequent one. The temple of the Archaic period was destroyed by fire in 342 b.C. and on its place a new one was constructed, the temple that we see today, with propylaea and a monumental staircase. Later on, in the Hellenistic period a portico was added to the building. During all this period of time, Athena is worshipped in the acropolis, but in the 3rd century it had also been introduced the cult of Zeus Polieus. In the Roman period a priest of the temple, named Aghlohartos , planted olive trees on the spot and, according to an inscription, later on, in the 2nd century A.D. it was built the Sanctuary of Psithyros, close to the Temple of Athena.

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Today, the following monuments, belonging to the sanctuary of Athena Lindia, can be seen on the acropolis:

The temple of Athena Lindia, a Doric tetrastyle, amphiprostyle temple with a pronaos, a nave and an opisthodomos. It is dated in late 4th century b.C. The table of offerings and the base of the statue are preserved inside the temple. The columns of the opisthodomos are closed off by a balustrade, and the place would have served as a treasury chamber for safeguarding the money of the temple and the sacred vessels. The walls of the temple were of porous stone, which was plastered. The architrave and the cornice of the upper part were painted with fleurons and meanders.

The Hellenistic portico, dated in late 3 rd century b.C., is some 87 meters long, it is made up of 42 columns and has lateral projecting wings with tetrastyle façades. The wall of the portico was not continuous; it was interrupted in the middle by a space of ten columns, so that the staircase of the Propylaea could be seen. Later on, in the 1st century b.C., a terrace was made in front of the portico, and two underground cisterns were constructed, in order to collect the rainwater that flowed from the roof of the portico and from the staircase of the Propylaea. The square so formed, was supported on arched constructions, still visible today.

At the foot of the staircase leading to the acropolis, a relief, presenting a Rhodian ship( “tiemiolia”) , is carved on the rock. According to the inscription, on the bow stood a statue of General Hagesander Mikkion, the work of the sculptor Pythokritos, who carved the Winged Victory of Samothrace (now in the Louvre Museum). Traces of painting are visible on the ship. The relief is dated in 180- 170 b.C. and it is protected by a barrier.

Beside the medieval staircase, leading to the Governor’s Palace, the visitor may see the ruins of a staircase, also leading to the Acropolis, which is dated in the Hellenistic period.

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The Propylaea of the temple were constructed in late 4th century b.C. The building is made of the usual porous stone and the upper part preserves traces of colors. A monumental staircase leads to a Π- shaped portico and to a wall with five doors. The lateral wings of the portico had hexastyle (i.e. with six columns) prostyle façades topped by a pedimental roof. A room opened behind each wing of the portico. The western room was followed by three other rooms, while the eastern one had only one extra room. These rooms were used for the deposition of the votive offerings. All the rooms led to a peristyle atrium, with porticos in three sides. The sanctuary of the goddess was probably placed here. Later on, in circa 200 b.C. a fourth portico in Ionian style was added to the open side.

In front of the vaulted constructions the visitor may see the remains of a Roman temple in antis, without opisthodomos. The temple, constructed in circa 300A.D., faced the acropolis and was intended to an imperial cult.

An inscribed semi-circular dais made of rosso antico served as the basis of the bronze statue of Pamphylidas, a priest of the goddess. The statue was accompanied by three smaller ones. The dais was constructed in the end of the 3rd century b.C. Two centuries later, in the 1st century b.C., statues of members of the priest’s family were placed on the dais.

In various spots of the area of the sanctuary there are bases and dais for statues, as it happens at the sanctuary beside the staircase. Such are the bases of the statues of Archocrates, Lysistates and Pythagoras, all of them brothers and priests of the goddess in the period of 168-156 b.C. There are also pedestals for the statues of the Roman imperial family dated in the period 14 to 19 A.D. Inscriptions indicate that there were statues of Tiberius, Drusus the Younger, Augustus and Germanicus.

The acropolis was surrounded by a strong wall, constructed during the Hellenistic times, at the same period as the Propylaea and the monumental staircase leading to the entrance of the acropolis. It is a carefully built ashlar construction with vertical and horizontal joints. Below this wall there are traces of the earlier one that probably existed before the Persian Wars. According to a Roman inscription, the wall and the square towers were repaired in the 2nd century A.D, at the expenses of P. Aelius Hagetor, the priest of Athena.

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Of course, the castle continued to be in use during the Byzantine period. Few traces of the Byzantine fortifications survive up to now, most of them incorporated in the later constructions of the Knights’ period, dated at the beginning of the 14th century. The Knights in fact remodelled the castle and made several changes and improvements, according to the technique of the period. The towers of the castle are few and follow the natural shape of the cliff. A pentagonal tower on the South was constructed, to guard the harbor , the settlement and the road leading to the town of Rhodes. Another tower, round this time, was placed at the East, to overlook the sea. Two additional towers, one round and the other on a corner, were found at the northeastern end of the fortress. Today only two of the towers survive: one at the southwestern corner and the other western to the Governor’s Palace. In 1522 the castle surrendered to the Ottomans, who, during the 16th and the 17th century modified the castle again, so that it complied with the innovations introduced in warfare, especially the use of cannons during the sieges. Thus, the Ottomans added some bastions at the three corners of the castle. The castle was in use until 1844, when it has been abandoned.

A large medieval staircase leads to the Governor’s Palace at the West. What we see today of the Palace, are two separate buildings, but originally it consisted of three. The Palace was restored by Danish archaeologists and, later on by the Italians, on the purpose to become a Museum.

On the terrace of the big portico, upon the cisterns it is situated the church of Aghios Ioannis. The church is of the inscribed cruciform type and probably was constructed in the period between the 11th and the 14th century, on the ruins of an earlier one, as it is evidenced by the architectural fragments embodied in the masonry of the actual church. Judging from these fragments, archaeologists suggest that the construction of this church goes back to the 6th century A.D.

Excavations at Lindos were carried out at the beginning of the 20th century and in 1952 by the Danish Archaeological Institute. During the first period, the whole site was excavated and all the monuments we see today were brought to light , whereas after the World War II, in 1952, the Danish archaeologists made an extensive and careful study of the monuments already revealed.

During the period of Italian domination, 1912-1943, there were carried out surveys on the site and extensive restore works. However, today it is thought that much of the restoration work was done arbitrarily; so, in recent times, a more careful study of the conservation and restoration is being carried out by the archaeological Ephorate in charge.
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