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LESBOS (Mytilene, Turk. Midullu)

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Originally appearing in Volume V16, Page 489 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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LESBOS (Mytilene, Turk. Midullu), an island in the Aegean sea, off the coast of Mysia, N. of the entrance of the Gulf of Smyrna, forming the main part of a sanjak in the archipelago vilayet of European Turkey. It is divided into three districts, Mytilene or Kastro in the E., Molyvo in the N., and Calloni in the W. Since the middle ages it has been known as Mytilene, from the name of its principal town. Strabo estimated the circumnference of the island at iloo stadia, or about 138 m., and Scylax reckoned it seventh in size of the islands of the Mediterranean. The width of the channel between it and the mainland varies from 7 to 10 M. The island is roughly triangular in shape; the three points are Argennum on the N.E., Sigrium (Sigri) on the W., and Malea (Maria) on the S.E. The Euripus Pyrrhaeus (Calloni) is a deep gulf on the west between Sigrium and 1Vlalea. The country though mountainous is very fertile, Lesbos being celebrated in ancient times for its wine, oil and grain. Homer refers to its wealth. Its chief produce now is olives, which also form its principal export. Soap, skins and valonea are also exported, and mules and cattle are extensively bred. The sardine fishery is an important trade, and antimony, marble and coal are found on the island. The surface is rugged and mountainous, the highest point, Mount Olympus (Hagios Elias) being 3080 ft. The island has suffered from periodical earthquakes. The roads were remade in 1889, and there is telegraphic communication on the island, and to the mainland by cable. The ports are Sigri and Mytilene. The Gulf of Calloni and Hiera or Olivieri can only be entered by vessels of small draught. The chief town, called Mytilene, is built in amphitheatre shape round a small hill crowned by remains of an ancient fortress. There are now 14 mosques and 7 churches, including a cathedral. It was originally built on an island close to the eastern coast of Lesbos, and afterwards when the town became too large for the island, it was joined to Lesbos by a causeway, and the city spread along the coast. There was a harbour on each side of the small island. Maloeis, by some surmised to be the northern of these, was not far away. Besides the five cities which gave the island the name of Pentapolis (Mytilene, Methymna, Antissa, Eresus, Pyrrha), there was a town called Arisba, destroyed by an earth-quake in the time of Herodotus. Professor Conze thinks that this is the site now called Palaikastro, N.E. of Calloni. Pyrrha lay S.E. of Calloni, and is now also called Palaikastro. Antissa was on the N. coast near Sigri. It was destroyed by the Romans in 168 B.C. Eresus was also near Sigri on the S. coast. Methymna was on the N. coast, on the site of Molyvo, still the second city of the island. The name Methymna is derived from the wine (Gr. pfOv) for which it was famous. Considerable remains of town walls and other buildings are to be seen on all these sites. (E. GR.) their administration Mytilene passed in 1462 under Turkish control, and has since had an uneventful history. The present population is about 130,000 of whom 13,000 are Turks and Moslems and 117,000 Greeks. See Strabo xiii. pp. 617-619; Herodotus ii. 178, Hi. 39, vi. 8, 14; Thucydides iii. 2-50; Xenophon, Hellenica, i., ii.; S. Plehn, Lesbiacorum Liber (Berlin, 1828) ; C. T. Newton, Travels and Discoveries in the Levant (London, 1865) ; B. V. Head, Historia Numorum (Oxford, 1887), pp. 487-488; E. L. Hicks and G. F. Hill, Greek Historical Inscriptions (Oxford, 1901), Nos. 61, 94, 101, 139, 164; Conz, Reise auf der Insel Lesbos (1865) ; Koldewey, Antike Baureste auf Lesbos (Berlin, 1890). (M. O. B. C.)
End of Article: LESBOS (Mytilene, Turk. Midullu)
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