Samos - ANCIENT SAMOS - The tunnel oF Eupalinos (EUPALINEIO ORYGMA) - Aim and date

Aim and date

Good water is the primary requirement of any city. The quantity (17 cubic metres per hour) and quality of water rising year-round at the spring of Aghiades, 2.5km, as the crow flies, behind the mountain to the north of the city, made it the obvious source for Samos , which was fast growing into one of the largest cities in the Aegean in the 6th century bc. The water from the spring could have been channeled around the slopes of the hill and brought into the city from the west. But the fact that this was not done, and that the much more difficult task of bringing it directly through the mountain was chosen instead, indicates that an external aqueduct was possibly considered too vulnerable to attack by an enemy. It presupposes the existence of the enceinte of walls, to the inside of which the water needed to be safely brought: it also presupposes, as do the walls, an enemy or some imminent threat—most probably the increasing hostility of Persia in the period after 546 bc. This is the logical and accepted reasoning behind the tunnel. But the desire willfully to take on a challenge, or to show bravado in solving a daunting problem, is a fundamental element of the Early Greek character, and should not be excluded as a motivation for an enterprise of this complexity. The size of the giant Kouros and of the Temple of Hera, the boldness of the harbour mole, the journey of Colaios into the Atlantic Ocean—all enterprises of the Archaic era—suggest that there were other human impulses at work in the imagination of this extraordinary period, which go beyond a simple consideration of security for a water supply.

   Archaeological evidence (potsherds, and the style of masonry in the areas of reinforcement), as well as the testimony of Herodotus, suggest that the tunnel could well have been commissioned by Polycrates, in the same period as the first circuit of walls and the harbour mole(s), i.e after 540 bc—even though some important authorities (notably the archaeologist, Hermann Kienast) put the start of the tunnel around ten years earlier, before the rule of Polycrates. The nature of the threat to Samos was apparently urgent enough to necessitate the bold decision to begin the tunnel from both ends simultaneously, so as to halve the time to completion. It was with that decision that the most interesting problems were raised.

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


Samos Island, Greece.

By air: Domestic flights are frequent from Athens – four to five times daily with Olympic Air and twice a day in summer with Aegean Airlines.
There also direct flights by charter from destinations outside Greece.
By boat: Sea access to Samos is also plentiful, but a little confusing because it is split between three separate ports: Karlóvasi and Vathy, on the north coast, for the larger ferries plying the northern and western routes to Piraeus, Chios, Lesbos, Ikaria, Thessaloniki etc;
and Pythagóreio, on the south coast, for the Dodecanese and southern routes,
i.e. the F/B Nisos Kalymnos (4 days per week)
and hydrofoils (daily in summer) to Patmos, Lipsi, Leros, Kalymnos, Kos, and on to Rhodes , with the Nisos Kalymnos stopping at Agathonisi and Arki in addition, before calling at Patmos.
The summer hydrofoil service to Fourni and Ikaria (4 times weekly) also leaves from Pythagóreio. Crossings to Turkey (Kus¸adasi) run daily from Vathy, during the summer season only (Easter to mid October); thereafter more infrequently.

Samos Travel Guide


Samos Island, Greece.

In Vathy, Christos (two blocks in from the water-front, and north of the main square) serves Asia Minor specialties, interesting salads, and good, fragrant wine.
The village of Vourliotes has several tavernas offering good mountain food in its picturesque plateia: less contrived, and more popular with islanders, is Pera Vrysi, at the entrance to the village. On the shore below, at Avlákia, the Mezedopoleío "Doña Rosa" has a pleasing touch of eccentricity, but nonetheless prepares excellent Greek dishes with localredients and good presentation.
Further west at Palaio Karlóvasi, the Oinomageireío "Dryousa", in the plateia where the paved road ends, is family run, providing fresh, home cooking.
The last true tavernas in Pythagóreio closed some time ago; the best remaining eatery there, with a pleasant view from its position at the beginning of the harbour mole, is Varka. For sunset views, however, few can match Balkoni tou Aigaiou at the south end of Spatherei;
while the taverna at Koutsi, up and west from Pyrgos, though not remarkable for food, is an unforgettable and cool refuge on a hot day, beside a spring below plane trees in the hills of central Samos .
Pure comb honey of high quality can be found at Melissa – a small supply-shop, a few metres up the main street of Pythagóreio from the harbour.

Samos Travel Guide

further reading

Samos Island, Greece.

Graham Shipley, A History of Samos 800-188 BC (Oxford University Press, 1987); Hermann Kienast, The Aqueduct of Eupalinos (Greek Ministry of Culture, Athens, 2005).

Samos Travel Guide

practical info

Samos Island, Greece.

831 00 Samos & 832 00 (Karlóvasi): area 477 sq. km; perimeter 163 km; resident population 33,999; maximum altitude 1,434 m. Port Authority: T. 22730 27890, 27318 (Vathy); T. 22730 61225 (Pythagóreio); T. 22730 32343, 30888 (Karlóvasi). Travel and in formation: ; By Ship Travel, T. 22730 25065 (Vathy), 61061 (Pythagoreio), 92341 (Kok- kari), 37100 (Marathókambos) & 35252 (Karlóvasi).
Samos Travel Guide

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