Knidus/Cnidus/Tripion was an important harbor, and artistic center in antiquity. Knidus was part of the Dorian Hexapolis along with Lindos, Kamiros, Halikarnassos, Ialysos, and Kos. And, as such was host to the Dorian games every four years. It was described by Strabo as having two ports, one for the military and the other for mercantilism. It is effectively two cities joined together by a man-made sand isthmus. Knidus has a long and checkered past of being run by other nations. At one point they were part of the Dorian Hexapolis (6th and 7th centuries), then the Persian Kingdom (c. 546 BCE, and again in 386 BCE), at one point Sparta (412 BCE~386 BCE), and at another the Ptolemaic Kingdom (274 BCE). Interestingly enough it was also raided, captured and lost by the Macedonian empire, under the leadership of Alexander the Great and Philip V, during multiple and various times in its history. During all of the upheaval of antiquity Knidus still managed to thrive with art, religion, athletics,and a very lucrative wine business.
Fun Fact: Knidus was the location of the first medical school in antiquity.
Who You’ll Meet
Knidus was inhabited by people believed by Herodotus to be descended from Lacedaemonians, Megarians by Strabo, and Limodorians (Ravenous-Dorians) by Hesychius. Their most commonly accepted ancesestors are the Lacedaemonians led by Triopas, cited both by Herodotus and Pausanias.
Fun Fact: A short list of famous people of antiquity born in Knidus: Euryphon (Writer: Cnidian precepts) , Metrodorus (Husband of Pythias, Aristotle’s daughter), Ctesias (Doctor and recorder of a Persian history), Eodoxus(Mathematician and Astronomer) , and Agatharchides (Writer).
How You’ll Get There
According to the Orbis website if you were to travel from Rome it would take you approximately 14.1 days in March to travel to Knidus, much of which would be traveled by sea. Both coastal and open ocean. If you were to depart from say Athens, another Greek Polis, it would take about 2.7 days, all of which would be coastal sailing.
Fun Fact: Because of it easily accessible coastal region Knidus was one of the most raided polis of its time. At one time even being occupied by pirates.
Why You’d Go to Knidus
Two common reasons people would travel to Knidus were warfare and trade. Knidus was said to have had early trade routes to and from Egypt, and owned a treasury in Delphi. It is also noted that their dual port system was very attractive for naval warfare during antiquity. The island was the meeting place for the Dorian games every four years at their Triopian Apollo temple, and as thus brought both athletes (athletes participated in games in order to receive bronze tripods as prizes) and spectators to their island on a regular basis. Tourism plain and simple was a very viable reason for people to travel to Knidus during its height in antiquity. It was home to the Temple of Aphrodite Euploia (Which is where the Cnidian Aphrodite was held), a theater (built during the Hellenistic period), beautiful alters (depicting Nymphs), a number of Temples (unsure what they were used for, fertility deities have been suggested), the Temple of Kore and Demeter (which contained the temenos of Demeter), The Ionic Temple (possibly housed two statues of Apollo created by Scopas and Bryaxis), and other random alters and art pieces.
Fun Fact: When the necropolis of Knidus was excavated the “Lion Grave” was found. It is believed to be the shrine of the hero Antigonus, and weighs in at a whopping 11 tons.
What Knidus Was Like
Like most trading posts Knidus was a thriving community with many visitors, which created a melting-pot effect of sorts. This is evident in the art, pottery, and writing found in the Knidian ruins, which contain Roman and Dorian influences to name a few. This is also evident in the coinage system, which changed more than a couple of times as the Knidians adapted to other cultures. At one point they had silver coins following the Milesian weighing standard(late 6th century), then they adopted the Aeginetan weighing standard, from there they decided to use the drachma, and at another point the Rhodian weighing standard (4th century).
Religion was a huge part of living in Knidus, and Aphrodite was the main deity. This is also noted in the coinage system, in which most if not all of their coins had some form of Aphrodite present. According to Pausanias there were three temples to Aphrodite: In the oldest she was worshiped as Doritis, in another Archaea/Akraia, and in the third she was worshiped as Cnidia/Euploea (the goddess of mariners). It is also noted the worship of Demeter and Kore was important as well. Not only as fertility and/or agricultural deities, but also as bringers of justice. Dionysus and Dioscuri are also mentioned as deities worshiped in Knidus, which makes sense knowing that their main export was wine.
In typical Greek fashion Knidians were lovers of art, but in an atypical Greek fashion they didn’t actually produce any artists. They did however commission art to not only be placed in Knidus but in other places as well. The statue of Jupiter at Olympia and the statue of Triopas in Delphi are just a few examples of the artwork commissioned by the Knidians. To be in Knidus during antiquity, was to take part in a vibrant and flourishing society with strong ties to goddess worship, regular occurring sporting events, and fine wine.
Fun Fact: Amphorae that once contained Knidian wine represent 5.5% of 50, 000 amphorae dated back to the main part of the 1st century.
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