Ancient Kameiros

This archaeological site contains ruins of the Hellenistic and Roman city of Kameiros together with the neighboring necropolis, which although first discovered in 1859 was mainly excavated during the Italian occupation of the island (1912-1943). Of the classical city, only the façade of a late classical fountain and some walls from the agora (market) remain.

The settlement was constructed on three separate levels of the hill. At the bottom was the first terrace with public buildings, market and temples, then on the second terrace was the main settlement and finally in a dominant position at the top of the hill was the acropolis with the Temple of Athena Kameirados (6th century BC), a reminder of the former wealth and historic significance of this ancient city.

Homer lists ancient Kameiros as one of the three city-states founded by the Dorians, the other two being Ialyssos and Lindos. It was an important commercial centre from the Archaic to the Hellenistic era. In this latter period new cemeteries appeared, the most important of which are Fikeloura and Makry Langoni, where the stele of Krito and Timarista, one of the most important pieces of Rhodian sculpture from the Hellenistic period, was found.

Findings from the cemeteries and votive offerings from the Temple of Athena reveal that the wealth of ancient Kameiros was derived from agricultural, artisanal and commercial activity. It is believed that the city maintained trading relations with mainland Greece, Asia Minor and the south eastern Mediterranean.

Among the important remains of ancient Kameiros are those of a large rectangular cistern for drinking water, whose interior was lined plaster making it watertight. At the bottom were two openings covered with stone lids through which water was distributed to the settlement through a system of clay pipes to meet the daily needs of the population. It is estimated that it could hold more than 600 cubic metres of water, an amount experts believe was sufficient for between 300 to 400 families. Built into the sides of the cistern’s walls were steps and it is believed to have been covered by a structure that has not survived. Constructed between the 6th and 5th centuries BC, it was knocked down during the Hellenistic period after an earthquake in 226 BC and replaced by a stoa which incorporated the city’s water supply system.

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