Koukonissi

The isle

The Isle of Koukonissi

In the area of Mudros, habitation starts in the prehistoric times, with the city, built on the islet Koukounissi, being its centre. The excavations reveal an important prehistoric center, equivalent Poliochni and modern with some phases.

The excavations were started by a Lemnian archaeologist called Christos Boulotis.
Koukonissi or little Island or, as they usually call Moudrinoi, is a small oval isle located NE of Mudros, with an area of 140 acres and an altitude of about 10 m
From the old days shells were found, in the islands interior, of archaeological interest. In 1986-1987, Mudros High-School students collected a number of such shells, which they delivered to the Archaeological Museum. Also, at the lowest peak of the island called Koukonos, the farmer’s plough often dug up stones from the buried ruins.

According to a local legend, those were inhabited by Koukones, who were Huge and wild and lived isolated on the islet, without having any relations with the other inhabitants of Lemnos. At some point, they decided to barricade their homes and not come out again. Thus they disappeared. The legend is interesting when combined with Cicones, people of Thrace, mentioned by Homer as allies of the Trojans and Herodotus as the first viticulturists of Thrace. Their founding father was considered to be Cicon, son of Apollo and Rhodope.

Excavations

From the excavations up until now, it appears that on Koukounissi a thriving village was developed, with a long, continuous occupation from the Early to the Late Bronze Age. A Mycenaean presence has also been found, which proves the presence of the Greek people in Lemnos. Following the period of decline of Poliochni, a growth phase with better quality ceramics is observed in Koukonissi, which bear various and original decorative motifs and originate from local workshops. Also vases from the middle Bronze Age have been found, which originate from the mainland of Greece, probably from Thessaly, demonstrating contacts with the proto-Hellenic tribe of Minion, verifying related myths.

The residents were mainly settled at the highest point of the islet, called Koukonos, obviously because they considered it safer. When the houses got old, new ones were built on the same foundations. So there are successive building phases located around a narrow main road, with a length of 11 m, which divides the village into a northern and southern district.

Apart from agricultural and livestock activity of its residents, the findings indicate that home-based and crafting activities had developed at Koukonissi, such as processing wool, weaving, cloth dyeing, stone carving, pottery and copper art.
The residents had commercial contacts with the Cyclades (obsidian import), Minoan Crete (flask-like pottery), Thessaly (large amphorae) and other areas, as proved by weights found similar to those in Minor Asia and the South Aegean.

Summarizing, we can say that when the decline of Poliochni begins and possibly that of Myrina too, from which we have no findings of the Middle Bronze Age, Koukonissi begins to flourish. It emerges as the most important centre of Lemnos, of this period and it develops, concentrating population (craftsmen, traders, etc) from the two other towns on the island. Towards the end of this period, around 1600-1500 BC, it is the most important location of permanent establishment of the Mycenaeans in Lemnos, according to religious clay figurines that have been found. During this period, the Mycenaeans create commercial stations in various parts of Limnos (Hephaestia, Poliochni), but it seems that they choose Koukounissi, as the safest for permanent settlement. It is possible that Koukonissi was the base of Evnios, who reigned on the island when the Trojan War was going on.
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