Lemnos n : a Greek island in the northern Aegean Sea; famous for a reddish-brown clay that has medicinal properties [syn: Limnos]
Lemnos () is an island in the northern part of the Aegean Sea. It is part of the Greek prefecture of Lesbos and has a considerable area, about 477 km². Lemnos is mostly flat (hence its 30+ sandbeaches), but the west, and especially the north-west part, is rough and mountainous (highest elevation: Mount Vigla, 470 m.). The chief towns are Myrina, on the western coast, and Moudros on the eastern shore of a large bay in the middle of the island. Myrina (aka Kastro, meaning Castle) possesses a good harbour, which is in the process of being upgraded through construction of a west-facing sea wall. It is the seat of all trade carried on with the mainland. The hillsides afford pasture for sheep, and Lemnos has a strong husbandry tradition, being famous for its feta and melipasto cheeses, and for its yoghurt. Fruit and vegetables that grow on the island include almonds, figs, melons, watermelons, tomatoes, pumpkins and olives. The main crops are wheat, barley, sesame; in fact Lemnos was Constantinople's granary during Byzantine times. Lemnos also produces what is probably the best honey in the world (from thyme-fed bees), but, as is the case with most products of a local nature in Greece, the produced quantities are little more than simply sufficient for the local market. Muscat grapes are grown widely, and are used to produce an unusual table wine that is dry yet has a strong Muscat flavor. Since 1985 the variety and quality of Lemnos wines has increased impressively. The island has an excellent airport, possessing a very long runway, capable of supporting Antonov carriers.
For ancient Greeks, the island was sacred to Hephaestus, god of metallurgy, who— as he tells himself in Iliad I.590ff— fell on Lemnos when his father Zeus hurled him headlong out of Olympus. There, he was cared for by the Sinties, according to Iliad or by Thetis (Apollodorus, Bibliotheke I:3.5), and there with a Thracian nymph Cabiro (a daughter of Proteus) he fathered a tribe called the Cabiroides. Sacred rites dedicated to them were performed in the island.
Hephaestus' forge, which was located on Lemnos, as well as the name Aethaleia, sometimes applied to it, points to its volcanic character. It is said that fire occasionally blazed forth from Mosychlos, one of its mountains. The ancient geographer Pausanias relates that a small island called Chryse, off the Lemnian coast, was swallowed up by the sea. All volcanic action is now extinct.
The name of "Lemnos" is said by Hecataeus to have been a title of Cybele among the Thracians, and the earliest inhabitants are said to have been a Thracian tribe, whom the Greeks called Sintians, "the robbers".
Apollodorus (Epitome I:9) records that when Dionysus found Ariadne abandoned on Naxos, he brought her to Lemnos and there fathered Thoas, Staphylus, Oenopion, and Peparethus. Pliny the Elder in his Natural History (xxxvi. 13) speaks of a remarkable labyrinth in Lemnos, which has not been identified in modern times.
According to a Hellenic legend, the women were all deserted by their husbands for Thracian women, and in revenge they murdered every man on the island. From this barbarous act, the expression Lemnian deeds became proverbial among the Hellenes. The Argonauts landing soon after found only women in the island, ruled by Hypsipyle, daughter of the old king Thoas. From the Argonauts and the Lemnian women were descended the race called Minyae, whose king Euneus, son of Jason and Hypsipyle, sent wine and provisions to the Achaeans at Troy. The Minyae were expelled by a Pelasgian tribe who came from Attica.
The historical element underlying these traditions is probably that the original Thracian people were gradually brought into communication with the Greeks as navigation began to unite the scattered islands of the Aegean; the Thracian inhabitants were technologically primitive in comparison with the Greek mariners.
The worship of Cybele was characteristic of Thrace, where it had spread from Asia Minor at a very early period. Hypsipyle and Myrina (the name of one of the chief towns) are Amazon names, which are always connected with Asiatic Cybele-worship.
In another legend, Philoctetes was left on Lemnos by the Greeks on their way to Troy; and there he suffered ten years' agony from his wounded foot, until Odysseus and Neoptolemus induced him to accompany them to Troy. According to Sophocles, he lived beside Mount Hermaeus, which Aeschylus makes one of the beacon points to flash the news of Troy's downfall home to Argos.
A rectangular building with a double row of stepped seats on the long sides, at the southwest side of the hill of Poliochni. It dates back to the Early Bronze Age and was possibly used as a kind of Bouleuterion.
In August and September of 1926, members of the Italian School of Archaeology conducted trial excavations on the island of Lemnos. A short account of their excavations appeared in the Messager d'Athénes for January 3, 1927. The overall purpose of the excavations was to shed light on the island's "Etrusco-Pelasgian" civilization. The excavations were conducted on the site of the city of Hephaisteia (i.e. Palaiopolis) where the Pelasgians, according to Herodotus, surrendered to Miltiades of Athens. There, a necropolis (ca. 9th-8th centuries BC) was discovered revealing bronze objects, pots, and over 130 ossuaries. The ossuaries contained distinctly male and female funeral ornaments. Male ossuaries contained knives and axes whereas female ossuaries contained earrings, bronze pins, necklaces, gold-diadems, and bracelets. The decorations on some of the gold objects contained spirals of Mycenean origin, but had no Geometric forms. According to their ornamentation, the pots discovered at the site were from the Geometric period. However, the pots also preserved spirals indicative of Mycenean art. The results of the excavations indicate that the Early Iron Age inhabitants of Lemnos were a remnant of a Mycenean population. Professor Della Seta reports:
The lack of weapons of bronze, the abundance of weapons of iron, and the type of the pots and the pins gives the impression that the necropolis belongs to the ninth or eighth century B.C. That it did not belong to a Greek population, but to a population which, in the eyes of the Hellenes, appeared barbarous, is shown by the weapons. The Greek weapon, dagger or spear, is lacking: the weapons of the barbarians, the axe and the knife, are common. Since, however, this population . . . preserves so many elements of Mycenaean art, the Tyrrhenians or Pelasgians of Lemnos may be recognized as a remnant of a Mycenaean population.
AntiquityHomer speaks as if there were one town in the island called Lemnos, but in historical times there was no such place. There were two towns, Myrina (also called Kastro), and Hephaestia which was the chief town. Coins from Hephaestia are found in considerable number, and various types including the goddess Athena with her owl, native religious symbols, the caps of the Dioscuri, Apollo, etc. Few coins of Myrina are known. They belong to the period of Attic occupation, and bear Athenian types. A few coins are also known which bear the name of the whole island, rather than of either city.
A trace of the pre-Greek Lemnian language is found on a 6th century inscription on a funerary stele, the Lemnos stele.
Coming down to a better authenticated period, we find that Lemnos was conquered by Otanes, a general of Darius Hystaspis. But soon (510 BC) it was reconquered by Miltiades the Younger, the tyrant of the Thracian Chersonese. Miltiades later returned to Athens, and Lemnos was an Athenian possession until the Macedonian empire absorbed it.
In 197 BC, the Romans declared it free, but in 166 BC gave it over to Athens which retained nominal possession of it until the whole of Greece was made a province of the Roman Empire in 146 BC. After the division of the empire, Lemnos passed to the Byzantine Empire.
Early Modern periodLike other eastern provinces, its possession changed between Greeks, Italians and Turks. In 1476 the Venetians and Greek Byzantines successfully defended Kotschinos against a Turkish siege. But in 1657 Kastro was captured by the Turks after a siege of 36 days. In 1770, Kastro was besieged by Count Orlov.
Modern periodDuring the Russo-Turkish War, 1806-1812, Admiral Senyavin won the naval Battle of Lemnos off the coast. In 1912, Lemnos became part of Greece during the First Balkan War.
Today the island of Lemnos or Limnos has about 30 villages and settlements. The province includes the island of Agios Efstratios to the southwest which has some exceptional beaches and the only desert in Europe.
Lemnos is a military base of Greece as it stands on a strategically important part of the Aegean Sea. During the First Balkan War, the Naval Battle of Lemnos took place here on January 18, 1913, in which the Ottoman navy sought to thwart Greece's capture of Aegean islands. The Greek fleet under Admiral Pavlos Kountouriotis was in the port at Moudros when they received signals that the Turkish fleet was approaching. The Greek fleet decisively defeated the Turkish fleet, which retreated to the Dardanelles and did not go out again throughout the war. The Greek battleship Lemnos was named after this battle.
During World War I, the Allies in early 1915 used the island to try to capture the Dardanelles Straits, some 50km away. This was done chiefly by the British and largely through the enthusiasm of Winston Churchill. The harbour at Moudros was put under the control of British Admiral Rosslyn Wemyss, who was ordered to prepare the then largely unused harbour for operations against the Dardanelles.
The harbour was broad enough for British and French warships, but lacked suitable military facilities, which was recognized early on. Troops intended for Gallipoli had to train in Egypt; and the port found it difficult to cope with casualties of the ill-starred Gallipoli campaign. The campaign was called off in evident failure at the close of 1915. Moudros' importance receded, although it remained the Allied base for the blockade of the Dardanelles during the war.
After the Red Army victory in the Russian Civil War, many Kuban Cossacks, fled the country to avoid persecution from the Bolsheviks. A notable eviction point was the Greek island of Lemnos where 18 thousand Kuban Cossacks have landed, though many would die of starvation and disease. Most left the island after a year.
The climate at Lemnos is mainly Mediterranean. Winters are generally mild, but there will be a snowfall occasionally. Strong winds are a feature of the island, especially in August and in winter time, hence its nickname "the wind-ridden one" (in Greek, Ανεμόεσσα). The temperature is typically 2 to 5 degrees Celsius less than in Athens, especially in summertime.
CommunitiesLemnos has the following communities:
- Agios Demetrios
- Agios Efstratios
- Lychna, Moudros
- Myrina (the capital)
In 2001 the island had 12,116 regular dwellings, of which 65% were stone-built, and 90.2% had pitched roofs made of red tiles (source: 18.3.2001 Census, National Statistical Service of Greece).
The island's economically active population in 2001 was 6,602. Of them, 12% were employers, 20.5% self-employed, 55.3% wage-earners, 7.1% unpaid, auxiliary family members, and 5.1% did not declare line of occupation. Of the economically active population, 17.9% worked in agriculture, 5.3% in light manufacturing, 11% in construction, 6.7% in hotels & restaurants, and the rest in other lines of business (source: 2001 Census, National Statistical Service of Greece).
- Alcamenes (5th century BC); sculptor
- Maroula Comnenou (15th century BC); daughter of Isidoros Comnenos, defender of the Kotsina (or Kotzinas, or Kotzinos, or Kokkinos) fort in Lemnos. In 1475 the Turks besieged the fort; when Isidoros fell, Maroula took up his sword, encouraged the defenders, and led them to victory
- Ralles Copsides Copsides, Ralles (20th-21st century); painter, writer
- Elias Eliou (20th century); politician, leader of EDA [in Greek: ΕΔΑ = Ενιαία Δημοκρατική Αριστερά] (United Democratic Left)
- George Kotsalis (20th-21st century); surgeon, politician (with the Left Coalition)
- Elias Kotsalis (20th-21st century); journalist & broadcaster
- Maria Lampadaridou-Pothou (20th-21st century); writer
- Nicholas Nanopoulos (20th-21st century); managing director of Eurobank
- John Paleologos (20th century); founder, owner, manager of Hellenobritannica Insurance Company
- Ducas Paleologos (20th-21st century); son of John, once managing director of Hellenobritannica Insurance Company, then of Alpha Asphalistike, currently of Ethnike Asphalistike; once head of Union of Insurance Companies of Greece
- John Psarras (20th-21st century); poet
- Hippocrates Savvouras (20th-21st century); politician (once an MP with the New Democracy party), writer, boxer, veterinary doctor
- Michael Vardas (20th-21st century); politician with LAOS (in Greek, ΛΑΟΣ = Λαϊκός Ορθόδοξος Συναγερμός)
- Themis A. Vassiliadis (Vassiliadis, Themis A.) (20th-21st century); mystic and poet
lemnos in Bulgarian: Лемнос
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lemnos in Modern Greek (1453-): Λήμνος
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lemnos in Icelandic: Lemney
lemnos in Italian: Lemno
lemnos in Hebrew: למנוס
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lemnos in Japanese: リムノス島
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lemnos in Norwegian Nynorsk: Límnos
lemnos in Polish: Lemnos
lemnos in Portuguese: Lemnos
lemnos in Romanian: Lemnos
lemnos in Russian: Лемнос
lemnos in Serbian: Лимнос
lemnos in Swedish: Lemnos
lemnos in Turkish: Limni