Hepheastia , built in the bay Pournias, on the northeast side of the island, was one of the two city-states of ancient Lemnos and according to the archaeological and historical data, its heyday lasted from the 7th to the 1st century BC.
It was the base of the ancient religion on the island. Patron of the city was the god Hephaestus, to which it owes its name. Coins which were found here and depict a lit torch on one side, prove that celebrations were held in honour of the god Hephaestus, called “Hephaesteia”.
The ancient city occupied the entire peninsula of Palaiopolis, in the Bay of Pournias. It was an important port, built from the Pelasgians over a peninsula that is bordered all around from sea, forming two natural harbours, which were used depending on the weather.
After the conquest of the island by the Athenians, the population decreased, according to Herodotus. Indeed, there are numerous tombs with vases from Attica and the oldest is calculated to be from the first half of the 5th century. There are other graves, built later on, which are dated up to until the Roman era.
Among the Greek buildings we note the theatre, made initially, possibly in the Hellenistic period and modified during the Roman period.
Other buildings that were found, such as churches and houses, show the importance of this city during the Byzantine period. From the 4th century AD it is the seat of a bishop. The bishop of Hephaistia of Lemnos, Strategios participated in the first Ecumenical Synod of Nice.
Two reasons contributed to the decline and total abandonment of Hephaestia: First, the physical destruction of the harbour, due to successive overflowing of rainwater and secondly the establishment of Christianity around the 2nd to 3rd century. Christians, unable to comfortably follow their religion, sought new a new base in Kotzinos, the rise of which accelerated the depopulation Hephaestia.


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