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date: 31 March 2023



  • D. Graham J. Shipley


Lesbos (now Lesvos or Mytilini), the third largest *Aegean island (1,630 sq. km.: 629 sq. mi.) after *Crete and *Euboea, 10 km. (6 mi.) from NW *Asia Minor. It is divided into three lobes on the south side by the long, narrow-mouthed gulfs of Kalloni and Gera. The volcanic western and northern mountains rise to 968 m. (3,176 ft.); the south-eastern hills are greener and more fertile. Alluvium (partly marshy) occurs around the gulfs and in the east, where Thermi (an important bronze age site) has hot springs.Lesbos was usually divided between five competing poleis: *Mytilene (the most powerful), *Methymna, *Pyrrha, *Antissa, and *Eresus. A sixth, *Arisbe (2) (near Kalloni), was absorbed by Methymna in the Archaic period. Some of the towns had land in Asia Minor. Settlement is relatively dispersed: there are important rural sanctuaries at Klopedi (temple of *Apollo), Mesa, and elsewhere, and the frequent rural towers and enclosures may be further evidence of inter-polis rivalry.


  • Ancient Geography

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