Abstract: This study assembles an island-wide context for the dossier of inscriptions revealed by excavations at the temple of Asklepios at Lissos in southwestern Crete, by examining the nature of the dossiers attested at and for sites sacred to Asklepios across the island. Such groups of inscriptions should be called “dossiers” rather than “archives,” given their subjective and selective nature; they were chosen to project the way a city and region represented itself rather than to preserve a complete epigraphic record (Cooley 2012b, 222). The ultimate goal is to determine just how characteristic or distinctive the dossier of Lissos is – geographically, chronologically, and by epigraphic genre – within Crete, where Lebena has long dominated the record.
Key words: Crete, Lissos, Asklepieion, inscriptions.
Introducing the dossier of the Asklepieion at Lissos
The Lissian dossier was completely unknown when Margarita Guarducci published the second volume of Inscriptiones Creticae in 1939. The nine inscriptions attributed to Lissos there came instead from the necropolis of Lissos, an ancient wall, the church of Ag. Kyrikos, and unknown locations at Ag. Kyrkos. In the absence of a documentary record the Asklepieion of Lissos had remained unknown until excavation in 1957‒1960 (Riethmüller 2005, 345, no. 162). In 1957 Nicholaos Platon discovered the temple northeast of the church of Ag. Kyrikos, after receiving word that antiquities had been found at Ag. Kyrkos by private individuals seeking water (Platon 1959c, 19). He went to investigate and found the source of these antiquities buried under massive rocks thrown down onto the site by an earthquake (Blackman 1976, 520). The rocks that had tumbled down from high above turned the small sacred building to ruins, thus sealing it and its contents for centuries. After three seasons of excavation between 1958 and 1960, Platon had unearthed not only a temple but its many inscriptions (Platon 1957, 1958b, 1959b, 1959c, 1960b, 1996).
Systematic study of these inscriptions is only now underway, despite discovery nearly 60 years ago. Platon's excavation diaries record the discovery of close to 40 inscriptions; additional inscriptions are not drawn in his diaries but stored in the Chania Museum.