Acropolis of Lindos

By the Editors of the Madain Project

The Acropolis of Lindos (Lindus, Greek: Λίνδος) is a natural citadel located on a rocky outcrop which rises above the modern town. It was fortified successively by the Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Knights of St John and the Ottomans. Lindus or Lindos was one of the most important towns in ancient Rhodes. It was situated on the eastern coast, a little to the north of a promontory bearing the same name.


Principallandmark of Lindos (ancient Lindus) and cult center over the centuries was the rock of the acropolis. The few sporadic finds bear witness to human occupation of the site already in the Neolithic and the Bronze Age (circa fourth to second millennia BCE).

The founding of the sanctuary of Athena Lindia on the acropolis is dated to the geometric times (circa 9th century BCE). However, many scholars maintain that an earlier cult existed here, going hack to Mycenaean times, of a prehellenic female deity, Lindia, who was associated with nature and fertility. This view is supported also by the myth of Danaos, who together with his daughters are accredited with founding the sanctuary, on their return from Egypt.

The first arrandement of the space took place in the time ofthe tyrant Kleoboulos, in the mid sixth century BCE. It was then that the first stone temple was built at the highest point of the acropolis, which waspossibly surrounded by a fortification wall. A staircase led from the entrance to the temple, which was enclosed by an enceinte (peribolos). No major changes to this arrangement appear to have been made in the next two centuries.

In the Lindian Chronocle there is reference to a fire, dated to the year 392 BCE, which caused damage to the temple, necessitating its reconstruction. Recent research has shown that the new temple was built around 300 BCE and was part of an overall plan for the monumental rearrangement of the sanctuary, which was implemented in stages in the Hellenistic period.

In the first half of the third century BCE, the propylaea and the monumental staircase leading to them and to the temple were built. At the end of the third century BCE the large stoa (portico) was constructed. These buildings gave the acropolis a terraced theatrical aspect, constituting a model for public architecture in Hellenistic times. Later, in the first century BCE, the terrace of the stoa was extended by constructing a series of vaults and cisterns.

The acropolis continued to befortified during the Byzantine, Medieval and Ottoman periods as well. The residence of the Byzantine garrison commander was probably located here. The Knights of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem captured the castle in October 1307 CE. Construction of the Hospitaller fortress commenced in the fourteenth century CE and was completed in the fifteenth century CE, under the Grand Masters of the Order Antoine Fluvian and Pierre D'Aubusson. Seat of the commander was the building at the top of today's stepped ascent. Its entrance was protected by a machicolation. The headquarters wes probably built by Grand Master Foulques de Villaret, who sought refuge in the citadel in 1317 CE, after an internal dispute in the Order and the attempted assassication.

On 30th October 1522 CE the garrison of Lindos surrendered the keys of the castle to the Ottoman Turks. A small Turkish garrison remained until 1844 CE. In the period 1902-1905 CE, the Danish Archaeological Mission conducted excavations on the acropolis; during the Italian occupation, restoration intervations were carried out.

Archaeological Remains

circa 380 BCE

Temple of Athena Lindia
The core of the sanctuary of Athena Lindia was the temple dedicated to the goddess, built on the highest point of the rock of the acropolis. Worship of Athena possible replaced an earlier cult of an unknown deity, in the cave opening directly under the temple. The cave continued to be a place of worship in later times, as the chape of the Virgin Spiliotissa. The architectural remains belong to a temple built in the late fourth century BCE, after the destruction of the earlier temple by fire in 392 BCE. The temple is in the Doric style-order, amphiprostyle and ofapproximate dimensions are 22x8 meters. It comprises a pronaos, a cella and an opisthodomos. Preserved in situ are the crepis in the opisthodomos, a large part of the west wall and a small part of the east one.

In the cella there was a low parapet, behind which stood the table for offerings and the statue of the goddess Athena. Visible in the walls are grooves to receive wooden supports and nail holes for holding the revetments that covered the temple interior. On either side of the doorwar was probably placed the "list of the priests", a very important inscription in which the names of thepriests from 406 BCE until 28 CE are written. Parts of it were used to pave the floor of an early christian basilica on the site of the tetrastoon, in the settlement. The temple was constructed of local sandstone (poros), which was coated with stucco, as were the other buildings on the acropolis.

In the period circa 1936-40 CE, the two colonnades of the prostaseis were restored and parts of the side walls of the temple were completed. During the recent restorations (2000-2005 CE), all the earlier completions were removed and replaced with new building material. Concurrently, errors in the previous intervention were corrected, the column height was recalculated and certain ancient stone blocks were repositioned. Fragments of the ancient threshold were identified, completed with new material and set back in their original place.

circa 1200/1300 CE

Church of Saint John
The Church of Saint John (Ayios Ioannis) was built in the 12th or 13th century CE, possible on the site of an earlier Christian basilica from the sixth century CE, as the surviving architectural elements attest. It is one of the architectural type of the cross-in-church. Two rows of pollars divide the church in to three aisles, which terminate in three apses at the east end. The three-sided apse at the center projects from the external wall.

Later on "knights' headquarters" was built to the north of the church, and was connected to via a single door opening in to the wall of the narthex. During the period of Orroman rule the Byzantine church was converted in to a mosque.Traces of the mihrab or prayer niche are visible in the central apse. Most of the pillars and of the south wall of the church no longer exist. They were dismantled in the course of the excavations, in order to remove ancient inscriptions built in to their fabric. The existence of the Christian church bears witness to the continuity of worship activity on the acropolis.

circa 50 BCE

Hellenistic Stoa
The stoa, in the Doric style and open colonnades plan, consists of two roofed wings, symmetrically arranged on both sides of the grand staircase of the propylaea. Unity of the construction, which is about 89 meters long, was ensured by continuing the alignment of the wings' columns along the front of the staircase.

Built in the first century BCE, the terrace was extended in front of the stoa, by the construction of fourteen vaults (inspect). In the middle of the terrace was a staircase (inspect), replacing he previous one, which led to the stoa. Part of the earlier staircase is now visible in the first vault to the west. Beneath the terrace there are two complexes of five cisterns, in which rainwater was collected from the roofs of the stoa and the propylaea. Their overall capacity is estimated at 300 cubit meters. The wellheads of the cisters are visible.

Excavations have revealed the foundation of the stoa,parts of the walls and seven columns up to a low height. In the period circa 1936-1940 CE, 21 of the 42 columns of the stoa were restored, the walls were partially completed and the terace and the east vaults were reconstructed. In the recent intervations, 26 columns of the stoa were restored, along with the corresponding parts of the crepis, entablature and the west wall of the eastern wing.

circa 200 CE

Stoa of Psithyros
The Stoa of Psithyros was constructed during the Roman period in the second century CE along side the temple of Athena Lindia. The Roman-era stoa (portico) was dedicated to the oracular demon Psithyros. It defined the southern edge of the courtyard located in the upper terrace of the acropolis between the propylaea and the temple. The stoa is in the ionic style-order, 4-4.6 meters wide and had a colonnade at its facade, consisting of five or seven columns with a probably height of 4.26 meters.

Its identity is based on an inscribed stone-base dating back to circa 200 CE. It refers to Seleukos who built a temple in honour of Psithyros and suggested that the god should not be honoured with an offering of less than one drachma.

The excavations by the Danish archaeological mission brought to light five sections of the colonnade's stylobate and a certain number of drums were attributed to the monument. As part of the restoration interventions funded by the NSRF, a column with its capital was restored to a complete height. The stylobate and sections of other columns were also restored, using mainly ancient material.

circa 180 BCE

Votive Semicircular Exedra
The semicircular rock-cut exedra served as the base of a statue set up in the alcove visible above its back-rest. At the same time it was a comfortable seat where pilgrims to the sanctuary could rest awhile. In front of the exedra, carved in the rock, is a low rectangular base for an altar.

Later, during the third or fourth century CE, a metrical inscription was incised on the back of the exedra; it refers to Aglochartos, one of the last priests of Athena Lindia, and extols his activity in planting olive trees on the acropolis. This kind of freestandng exedrae were quite common in ancient sanctuaries.

circa 432 BCE

The high, precipitous crag of Lindos, atop of which is the acropolis, was a natural fortress and safe haven for the city's inhabitants in the all historical periods.

The first fortified enceinte was built by the tyrant Kleoboulos in the mid sixth century BCE. A wall reinforced with rectangular towerswas constructed on the same site in the Hellensitic period, circa third century BCE. Today, small parts of the fortifications and the foundations of two towers on the north side of the acropolis are still visible.

The fortified character of the castle was maintained in Byzantine times. The ramparts of the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem were built on top of the Byzantine wall, making the castle of Lindos one of the mightiest accordance with the decree of Grand Master Orsisi (circa 1474 CE). The wall was reinforced with towers, the oneat the south-west corner of the castle and a second, west of the headquarters, surviving until today.

During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Ottomans constructed bastions at the three corners of the castle, in order to confront effectively the ballistic capability of cannon.


circa 180 BCE

Stern of a Warship (triemiolia)
The relief served as the base of a bronze portrait statue of Hagesandros son of Mikion, whom the Lindians honoured on the occassion of a naval vistory of the Rhodians. The stern of the warship (triemolia), which preserves traces of red pigment, is rendred in detail, with the aphlaston at the right end and the richly bedecked captain's seat in the form of a bird's wing. Discernible on the back of the base, within a small temple (naiskos), is a standing female figure with Kalathos on the head. Preserved on the rock in front of the relief is a row of holes, in which were set the iron railings that protected the monument. It was cut into the rock at the foot of the steps leading to the acropolis.

According to the inscription on the hull of the ship, the work was created by the renowned Rhodian sculptor Pythokritos son of Timocharis. The Rhodians' preference for representations of ships in art was closely linked with their maritime tradition and their confidence in themartial ability of their ships.

Interventions and Restoration Efforts

circa 1985-2008 CE

Despite the positive aesthetic result that the Italian restoration works achieved on the Acropolis of Lindos, it soon became apparent that it was catastrophic for the ancient monuments. Thepoor quality of the new building material used, the reinforced concrete in the joints between architectural elements, the corrosion of the ion reinforcement, as well as the erroneous placements of ancient elements of one monument in another, are some of the more serious problems that demanded radical and immediate addressing.

The ministry of culture began systematic study and restoration of the ancient site in 1985 CE, by including the project in a jointly-funded program of the European Union, implementation of which was undertaken by the committee for the consolidation, restoration of the monuments on the acropolis of Lindos.

The project included restoration works on the Hellenistic stoa and the temple of Athena Lindia, where the most serious static problems had been noted. the method of dismantling the monuments in parts was applied, in order to avoid major disruption at the archaeological site and to preserve the Italian intervation as part of the history of the site. Concurrently, however, earlier errors were corrected.

After dismantling the columns, the ancient architectural elements were cleaned and conserved, and the possibility of reusing them in their original location or position was assessed. Unfortunately, their condition proved to be much worse than was initially estimated. The ixidation of the iron elements, the reinforced concrete in the joints and the rapid rate of erosion of the added building material had resulted in the fragmentation not only of column members, which did not even retain their original colume, were removed of necessity, because they were no longer capable of bearing loads. In the end, only a small percentage of the ancient material was reused.

The materials used in the restoration works are sandstone (poros) for the new architectural elements, titanium for the dowels and the empolia (elements for connecting the drums) and special mortars for joints or completions. FOr the joints between the architectural members, the ancient method of free-bedding of the elements was repeated, not only for didactic reasons but also to secure anti-earthquake protection and reversibility of the architectural solution applied.

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