"Λήμνος γαιάων πολύ φιλτάτη απασέων"Limnos the most friendly land of all lands.  
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LIMNOS IN the MYTHS AND the HISTORY

Limnos was born of volcanic eruptions deep within the Aegean Sea. The towering flames, volcanic ash and lava spread, formed and reformed. Centuries went by and the volcanic action ceased. What remained when the last lava flows set in place and the smoke cleared was an island with a rather strange shape. The land appeared arid, as if thirsty for water. Today, with the exception of some strange, grey rocks, there is little to remind us of its origins. These huge, jagged rocks on the western coast of the island stand menacingly over sandy white beaches and the azure sea as proof of the volcanic activity that once existed in this region. In ancient times, Limnos was the worshipping site of fire and earth. According to mythology, Hephaestus, the god of fire and iron, fell onto Mount Mosichlos where he lived in exile after his father Zeus cast him out of the gods' residence on Mount Olympus. There he built his workshop and taught his art to the Sinties, the island's first inhabitants. There are other myths connected to the history of Limnos, such as the story of King Thoa. This myth recounts the history of Limnos when it was settled by the Minoans. Thoa, King of Limnos and son of the god Dionysos and Ariadne, married Myrina and had a daughter called Ipsipili. During his rule, the native women of Limnos shunned from worshipping Aphrodite, who was married to Hephaestus against her will. The irked goddess punished them by making their bodies emit a foul odour.Their husbands, not bearing to come near them anymore, wedded women of Limnos became so angry that they killed both their husbands and sons and threw their bodies into the sea. It is said that this horrible crime took place in the region of Petassos. Another part of the island connected to mythology is the site of Kaviria, on the northern side of Hefestia's bay. The Kavirous, the three sons and three daughters of Hephaestus and Kaviria, were worshipped on the island as gods. These fire spirits were believed to be the ancestors of the human race. Secret rites celebrating the birth of life and man were performed in their honour. According to Philostratos' descriptions, these rites usually took place at night in a forest near the temple of Hephaestus. Once a year, the residents of Limnos extinguished all fires on the island and sent a boat to Delos to bring back a new light from the island's sacred source. The islanders welcomed the return of the boat with festivals,which symbolized life renewal. The rites were performed in a mysterious language, and only the initiates, who wore a wreath of olive branches on their heads and a red ribbon to give them courage to fight dangers were allowed to participate. Near the sanctuary of Kaviria is a cave associated with Philoctetes, a Greek archer from Melissoi. According to mythology, Philoctetes wished to receive the blessing of the goddess Hera to help the Achaeans in their siege of Troy. He therefore made a stop at Limnos to offer her a sacrifice.While there, he was bitten in the leg by the sacred serpent, guardian of the sanctuary. His wound was so deep and his pain so unbearable that his companions left him on the island. Ten years after the siege of Troy, the oracle Elenos predicted that Troy would succumb to the Achaeans only if Philoctetes fought in the war with Hercules weapons.Soon afterward, Neoptolemus and Odysseus went to Limnos to convince him to come to Troy. He eventually joined the war, fighting with Hercules' weapons, who had agreed to lend them to him and killed dozens of Trojans, among them Paris, the son of Priam. The great
Greek tragedian Sophocles recounts the story in his play "Philoctetes."
The first inhabitants
Limnos was a way station for prehistoric peoples travelling from Asia to Europe. The first humans inhabited the island in the Mid Stone or Neolithic Age, around the fifth millenium BC. It is believed that they came from Asia Minor and settled the entire island. Many neolithic settlements have been found in different parts of the island, mainly in Axia, Hefestia, Komi, Koukonissi, etc. But the most sophisticated urban settlement was established in Poliochni, on the coast near Kaminia. Excavations there uncovered an incredible civilisation, which flourished for more than 1,500 years. Poliochni started as a small neolithic town and developed into a fortified city, which suddenly disappeared around 1,300 BC, probably as a result of a major earthquake.
Neolithic Poliochni
The inhabitants of Poliochni dominated the whole island, as well as the sea around them, controlling commerce in the Aegean sea. However, neither Homer nor the classic Greeks mention anything about Poliochni. Thus, there was no information about the settlement until it was discovered, in a random excavation, by the Italian Archaeological School in 1930 recently it was credited with having the oldest parliament in Europe. It was a unique form of civilisation that developed in the north-eastern Aegean. Poliochni prospered because its inhabitants took maximum advantage of their settlement's location, one which combined a wealth of raw materials with farm production and commercial activity.
These conditions favoured the creation of a rich and civilised community. Poliochni was inhabited by people of different cultures who had one common characteristic: working with copper, which became an art form that was developed to perfection. The town was dominated periodically by warring tribes such as the Pelasgians, the Minoans, the Minoits, the Achaeans, the Mycenaeans. According to Homer, the oldest inhabitants of Limnos were the Sinties. This was the war tribe which brought the secrets of ironwork to Limnos, as well as to the rest of the Hellenes.
The years of the Trojan War

During the Trojan War (12-13th century BC), Limnos was dominated by the Minoans with Evino as their king. Their capital was Myrina, and from there they traded with the Achaeans, the conquerors of Troy, trading their wine in exchange for copper. In the 11th century, the island was conquered by the Pelasgians who fled from Attica. As mentioned by Thoukudidis, the Pelasgians were the forefathers of the Achaeans. They were a great maritime nation who, after settling the island, built a powerful fleet. During the Persian Wars, they sided against the Persian emperor, Darius. The Pelasgians settled the whole island and wrote their language with Greek characters as established by the well-known inscription of Kaminia. It is a paving-stone depicting a warrior with a shield and spear. Many archaeologists and linguists have tried to decipher this important column. The inscriptions are written with letters of the Greek alphabet, indicating that the Pelasgian language was related to the old languages of the Hellenic region where modern Greek later emerged.

Ancient Hefestia
The Pelasgians' capital was Hefestia, which was excavated by the Italian Archaeological School after 1926. Hefestia flourished from 1000 BC to 12 00 AD. The archaeological site incorporates a huge complex spread over 2.5 acres, recognizable by large constructions which
include an ancient theatre and the temple of Hefestia. Some magnificent works of art and a complete series of pottery statues representing sirens and sphinxes were discovered in three connected chambers of the temple. To the south-west of the town, archaeologists discovered the necropolis of Hefestia, rich in antiquities, and near it three more burial grounds from later times. Hefestia was burned to the ground by the Persians in 511 BC, but the Athenians rebuilt the city and it remained the capital of the island until the Middle Ages. During the same period, the temple of Kaviria was actively used, in the area of Chloe facing Hefestia. After the Persian Wars, Limnos fell under the control of the Athenians around 479 BC. The island was occupied by the Athenian settlers and Guard. Some of the local inhabitants, mainly the Myrinians who strongly resisted the occupation, left the island. The Hefestians stayed and came to accept Athenian rule. The inhabitants of Limnos soon combined with the Athenian settlers. From the fourth century BC onward, the island had a parliament, a senate and were active in political life, similar to that of the city of Athens.
Dipolis: The other name
During Athenian rule, the island was known under the name Dipolis, which originated from the existence of two major towns, Hefestia and Myrina. The Athenians fortified Myrina, repairing its old Pelasgian castle, and created a prosperous city with great edifices, temples, etc., which dominated the western part of the island. From 454 BC onward, Myri-na and Hefestia paid taxes to the Athenians. During these centuries, the island witnessed many temporary invasions and raids which caused a lot of destruction. Among the invaders were Lyssandros the Spartan, Philip the Second and the Macedonians, Antigonos, Cassandros, Lyssimachos and others. The major events which left their mark on the island's history were two natural disasters. A famine in 430 BC devastated the inhabitants, while a powerful earthquake in 330 BC almost completely destroyed the islet of Chrissi and part of eastern Limnos. After the Romeikos conquest (166 BC), Limnos went through a period of peace and political rise, culminating in the appearance of the Filostratos family of sophists, rhetoricians and teachers in the second and third centuries AD. The most distinguished were Antilochos the sophist, in the fifth century AD, Apolodoros the writer, who lived in the third century AD, and the renowned Flavios Filostratos. Neither did the island lack in artistic achievements. The sculptor Glavcos, who invented the technique for soldering is originally from Limnos, so is the famous sculptor Agamenis. A student of Feidia, son of an Athenian settler, gained fame in Athens by creating some of the most beautiful sculptures of the Classical period. His most acclaimed work is a statue of Aphrodite (Venus) which is now found in the Louvre national museum in Paris. He is also believed to have sculpted the western pediment of the temple of Zeus in ancient Olympia, the statue of Aris, the golden elephant statue of Dionysis and many others.
The Byzantine years
Little is known about life in Limnos during the Byzantine years. The island's role during this period of time was to control the maritime route between the Aegean and the Hellespont.In the mid-Byzantine era it fell under the control of Greece, later of the Aegean, and finally came under Thessaloniki's rule. The Byzantine supremacy was interrupted many times by overzealous competitors who tried to dominate the Aegean region. Thus Limnos was seized periodically by the Saracens, who pillaged the island and sold its inhabitants to slave merchants, also by the Venetian family of Navigayiozzi, who forced the islanders into lavery, the Gatelouzzi Genoans and again the Venetians. In the first century AD, tranquillity fell over the island. During these years, Limnos was cultivated from shore to shore and was overpopulated. In its ports were anchored caiques, frigates and sailing vessels, which in addition to passengers, also carried merchandise: metals, oil, wood, marble, wine flour, leather, pottery, wool and grain. In subsequent years, the island was never actually invaded by Turks. Whenever they attempted to invade they were met with heroic resistance from the residents. Their first appearance was recorded in 1442 when the Turkish fleet besieged the island. Five years later, they re-attacked Kotsina, which was valiantly defended by Greeks and Venetians. The peak of the battle was the appearance of heroic Maroula. When the young woman saw her father, General Isidores, killed by the sword of a fanatic Moslem while Isidores was grabbed the sword and attacked the enemy. The defenders of the fortress took courage from her bravery and succeeded in driving the invaders back to the port. From then on, Maroula became a legend and a symbol of freedom-fighting in the whole of Limnos. A statue of her can be seen today in Kotsina.
In the hands of the Turks The Venetians ceded the island to the Turks in a treaty signed on January 25, 1479. Kastro became the capital of Limnos. The Turks, both soldiers and civilians, lived inside the fortress, while the Greeks lived outside. During this period, many islanders, realising that life on Limnos had no prospects, became merchants or sailors. Afterward a large number left the island and went on creating Lemnian communities in the large urban centres of the Mediterranean and the Euxine, such as Smyrna, Alexandria, Syros, Odessa and others. In 1821, because of its proximity to the City (Constantinople), Limnos was one of the few islands not to rebel. But the passion for independence never ceased to burn in the hearts of the Limnians. Their attempt to gain their independence in 1854, during the Crimean War, was proof of this desire. After 1821, rebellion became more intense. A large number of the islanders fled to Alexandria, where a large community was established. Independence on October 6 1912 saw the island rich with schools, churches and mansions were built by the Egyptian Limnians. From the beginning of our century During WWII and, more specifically, after 1915, Limnos sheltered many Allied camps,mainly the English, who used the safe port of Moudros as a naval dockyard. During this time, the island went through a phenomenal economic boom, a legacy of the foreignarmies. Over 500 ships were anchored in Moudros Bay while the island's camps housed more than 30,000 soldiers. What remains are mainly the Allied cemeteries in the regions of Moudros and Portianou. ln 1922, more than 45,000 refugees from Asia Minor settled onthe island. The German occupation began on on April 25, 1941, when the German army invaded the island and ended on October 16,1944, with their departure. In the years of civil strife in Greece immediately following WWII, Limnos became a place of exile for the leftists.On the other hand, the immigration of the young population to urban centres reached dramatic proportions. A large number of young islanders moved to Athens and Thessaloniki, while others left to go abroad, mainly to Australia, Canada, USA, Germany and African countries. Thus, the island's
population began to decrease.

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