Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Chryse Island

We begin our journey into the unknown with a mysterious island that disappeared in the 2nd century A.D. Called Chryse (cry-see), it was a small island off the coast of Lemnos that was said to have harboured an impressive temple dedicated to the deities Apollo and Chryse - the goddess Chryse is not mentioned anywhere else and her worship seems to have been confined to this island.

Our only sources of information on this island come from Sophocles (who very briefly mentions it in passing as the location where the mythical figure Philoctetes was bitten by a snake on his way to Troy) and Pausanias, an Ancient Greek explorer. Pausanias wrote that the island was destroyed by an earthquake and tsunami sometime before the 2nd century AD. Did this island ever exist? If it did, how come nobody else mentioned it? Many historians believe that Pausanias made it up and never visited many of the places he wrote about. Could Chryse be one of these fictionalised accounts?

However, there's just a little bit more. Some archaeologists believe that a sunken landmass off the coast of Lemnos, called Kharos Bank, may be the remains of this ancient island. However, investigations so far have proven inconclusive.

My verdict: I believe that Chryse Island never existed. It's most likely that Pausanias heard about it from some bloke down the pub and reported it as fact in his book. As far Kharos Bank, it just seems like a bunch of rocks at the bottom of the sea to me. But what do you think?

See also:
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