Limnos Archaeology

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October 13th 2016
Published: October 13th 2016
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Day 19 - Mon. Oct. 10 - Port of call: Myrina, Greece. Weather: Sunny with scattered clouds, temperatures of 79°F/26°C

Today our port of call is Myrina, the capital of the island of Limnos. The island lies approximately 40 km from Turkey and southwest of the Dardanelles where the Gallipoli Campaign took place in 1915 during the First World War. The island was a staging area for the British and French naval and army expeditionary forces.

The port facilities at Myrina are small and there is no pier large enough to accommodate even a small cruise ship like the Prinsendam so we had to use the tenders. I must say the tenders that are on board are much roomier with wider hatches, making them easier to board and debark.

Sitting offshore we could clearly see the imposing castle and walls that overlook the harbour entrance and divides the city into two distinct areas, north and south. The north portion features the city’s main public beach Romaikos Yialos, pubs, restaurants & cafes where much of the town’s nightlife occurs. The harbour beach, archaeological museum and commercial port, where we landed, occupy the southern portion of the town.

Our shore excursion for the day included a visit to the Archaeological Museum of Limnos where our tour guide provided us with an historical overview of the history of the island as presented by the archaeological finds from the site at Poliochnis. There were a great number of artifacts discovered at the site by Italian archaeologists who uncovered seven distinct layers of civilization, stacked one upon the other. The oldest inhabitants were from the Neolithic period and predated the Egyptian dynasties. The next major layer was from 2,000 BC and at this level some of the oldest baths in the Aegean area were discovered. The third layer represented the Copper Age while the top layer revealed a Bronze Age city that was contemporary with the Mycenaeans.

The Island of Limnos and its inhabitants played a part in the legend of Jason and the Argonauts. When their ship arrived at the island they found that only women inhabited the city of Poliochnis. This was apparently a matriarchal society, reminiscent of the Amazon legend.

After visiting the museum we were driven over to the actual archaeological dig site where we had an opportunity to walk among the building foundation walls.

Following our exploration of the site we were taken for a brief visit to the British Cemetery and World War I Memorial where some of the wounded from the Dardanelles Campaign are buried. It is a small cemetery, considering the number of men killed and wounded during that battle. We found out that the individuals interred here died in the hospital set up on the island to treat them. Though Canadian military units did not directly participate in this campaign I found several grave stones for members from the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. We were also informed that a number of Canadian women were Nursing Sisters stationed at the military hospital on the island at the time.

Our last stop on the tour was at the large well-protected habour where the British and French naval forces assembled before they headed to the Dardanelles.

Back at the ship we continued our relaxed ways with a leisurely late lunch, reading, etc.

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