Elyros (Skylax 47) is built on the hill “Kefala”, 500 m. southwest of the village Rodovani and the province of Selino.
It is considered to have been the most important ancient city in south-western Crete in the Hellenistic and the Roman times. It was independent and autonomous and had minted its own coin. In the Hellenistic times it was a member of the “Federation of the Mountains”, along with the cities Hyrtakina, Lissos, Poikilassos and Tarra. Its harbours were the cities Lissos and Syia. It is referred to have been among the Cretan cities which signed an alliance treaty with Eumenes II of Pergamo in 183 B.C.
In Elyros people particularly honoured Apollo and the heroes Phylakides and Philandros, the son of Apollo and the nymph Akakallis. The people of Elyros sent a copper complex as an offer to Delphi, depicting a goat feeding the two heroes when they were toddlers. It is said that Elyros was the birthplace of the lyrical poet Thalitas (7th century B.C.).
Pashley, guided by the relevant quotes of ancient writers and inscriptions, was the first to identify its location near the modern village Rodovani (community of Kambanos, province of Selino). Theron examined the ruins more carefully and discovered an inscription with the words “the city of Elyros decided”, with which the opinion of Pashley was confirmed.
Elyros continued its activity in the 1st Byzantine period and was the seat of the Archbishop. The city was destroyed by the Saracens.
(Authors: Vanna Niniou – Kindeli, Aggeliki Tsingou, archaeologists)