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Ancient Olous

  • Ancient Olous


About Ancient Olous

Aptera is a highly significant archaeological site in West Crete. Established in the 8th century BC, the ancient city of Aptera was strategically located to control Souda Bay and prospered during the Hellenistic period. However, it was abandoned during the Arab years due to pirate attacks. The city relied on the ports of Marathi and Kalives, which made Aptera one of Crete’s most important commercial centers, if not the most important one.

Tradition has it that the city was named after the Sirens who lost their wings in a musical contest against the muses, rendering them wingless (aptera in Greek). However, it seems that the name actually comes from Aptera Artemis (wingless Artemis), who was worshipped in the area, as evidenced by the city’s coins.

Aptera was fortified with a strong wall, of which a large part (4km) still stands today. Within the city, one can find a sanctuary from the 5th-4th century BC, enormous Roman vaulted cisterns, a carved-in-ground theater, a “parliament,” and a nearby necropolis. Various artifacts have been discovered, including vases, coins, figurines, inscriptions, and sculptures.

The city of Aptera was renowned for its skilled archers who served as mercenaries in various areas outside Crete, bringing wealth back to their homeland. The valuable silver they introduced enabled the city to mint its own coins. These intricate coins typically featured the goddess Artemis on one side and the city’s founder King Apteras on the other. Other designs depicted Apollo or Hera and a torch, bee, or bow.

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  • Archaeological Sites

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