Samikon/Samia (Eleia) 60 Kato Samiko - Σαμικόν

Σαμικόν - Samikon/Samia, Classical to Roman settlement near Kato Samikon in Eleia Peloponnese

Modern description Odysseus

The archaeological site at Kato Samiko, north of Lake Kaiafa, has been tentatively identified as the ancient city that was successively named Macistus, Arene, and, finally, Samia, or Samikon, or Samos. Its strategic location controlled both the fertile plain of Samiko and the road connecting Pisatis with Triphylia and western Messenia. The city had two citadels: the prehistoric acropolis on the rocky crag of Kleidi and the Classical acropolis to its east.

Cyclopean walls protected the prehistoric acropolis, whose remains date from the Middle Helladic and Late Helladic periods. A large cemetery of Middle Helladic tumuli and a tumulus with many graves and a wealth of important grave gifts of the Middle Helladic - Late Helladic III periods were discovered in this area. Late Helladic III pottery was also found on the Classical acropolis, where a guard-tower for the prehistoric settlement at Kleidi was probably located.

The Classical acropolis is located on Elliniko hill, on the west slopes of the Lapitha mountain range. Part of the lower city probably stretched northwest of the acropolis, in the area of Lake Agoulinitsa, which is now drained. Moveable archaeological finds date the site's occupation from the fourth century BC until the Roman period. By Strabo's time, the fourth-century fortification walls, known under the name of 'Samikon', were the city's only standing structure. The site can also be identified as ancient Macistus, which, according to Herodotus, was part of the Dorian Hexapolis founded by the Minyans in Elis Triphylia. Herodotus mentions the Samian Poseidion, a sacred wood dedicated to Poseidon, which archaeologists have looked for on the beach. In Strabo's day, it was the citizens of Macistus who tended the Samian Poseidion.

A Roman bathhouse and an Early Christian church are located north of the Classical acropolis. Medieval remains suggest that Kleidi was fortified during the Middle Ages, probably because of its strategic location.
The archaeological site at Kato Samiko comprises the prehistoric acropolis at Kleidi and the acropolis of the historical period at Elliniko, east of Kleidi, on the west slopes of Mount Lapitha. The former can be tentatively identified as the Homeric city of Arene and the latter as Samia, Samikon, or Samos.

The rocky hill of Kleidi controlled the north-south maritime and land routes. Cyclopean walls surround the prehistoric acropolis and extend all the way across to the hill opposite, where the Classical acropolis was later established. This second hill was also occupied in prehistoric times by a possible tower or guard-post. Middle and Late Helladic pottery and the remains of a Mycenaean building were identified on the prehistoric acropolis, whereas a tumulus with multiple burials and important finds dating from the Middle Helladic until the Late Mycenaean period was excavated northeast of Kleidi. A large cemetery of the end of the Middle Helladic period, with cist-graves and one tholos tomb, all covered by tumuli, was revealed at the hill's east foot.

The strategically located, naturally fortified hill of Elliniko oversees the only passage from Elis into Messenia and lies close to the low fertile valleys in the north and northeast. The trapezoidal enceinte, which surrounded the hill's highest terraces, is preserved on the east and northeast sides to a height of five to twelve courses. Built of pseudo-polygonal masonry, it had square towers and several large and smaller gates. The enceinte probably dates from the fourth century BC or the Hellenistic period, whereas the smaller inner enclosure probably dates from the sixth century BC. The building stones came from a nearby quarry, east of the city. Within the enceinte are the recently excavated remains of terrace walls and buildings, including a public building with portico, reservoirs, and a group of rooms. A number of cist and tile graves, a Roman bathhouse, and an Early Christian church were investigated to the north and northeast of this acropolis.


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