The geography and early history
of the area


What is called the ‘Kambos Choras’ today is a wide and fertile, south-facing plain between the mountains and the shore. It is watered by the streams that run off from the mountains to the north (Mt. Ambelos, 1153m) and west (Mt. Bournias, 778m)—prin cipally the Imbrasos ‘river’ at the western end, and the Kalathi, to the east; today these are only seasonal streams, but in early Antiquity they probably flowed more constantly. The mountains protect the plain from the north winds and create a micro-climate ideal for cultivation. There were, in ancient times, two natural harbour-inlets at the far eastern end of the plain, one where the modern port of Pythagoreio is, the other—now a small lake called Glyphada— lies a little to its west (beside the Doryssa Bay Hotel). Between the two was a hill, usable as a low acropolis. There were several strong, fresh-water springs in the area, the most important at Aghiades, to the north of the area, and at Myli, to the west. In short: all the prerequisites for a successful urban settlement.

   Given this geography, it is not surprising to find evidence of very early settlement in the Kambos area. On the low hill between the two ancient harbours, where the castle of Lycourgos Logothetis now stands in Pythagoreio, was a Late Neolithic settlement of the 4th millennium bc, whose finds show affinities with contemporaneous Cycladic culture. This hill later became the earliest acropolis and nucleus of the sub sequent settlement of historic times. At the site of the Heraion itself, where remains of an Early Bronze Age fortified settlement to the north and east of the main temple have been found, and in the village of Myli (2km to its northwest) where a Mycenaean rock-cut tomb can still be seen (in the narrow space between the church of Aghios Charalambos and the school sports-field at Myli), there is clear evidence of a continuous, early habitation and settlement.

   But it is the cult of Hera, the queen of divinities, and of her earlier prehistoric forebears in the form of the ‘Mother Goddess’, that more than anything has determined the development of this auspicious and fertile plain. Since it long predates the evolution of the ancient city of Samos , this guide will begin first at the Sanctuary of Hera, or Heraion, and then go on to look at the remains of the city.

Samos Island is part of the Northern Aegean Island Group, Greece.

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