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by Archaeology Newsroom

The Traditional Fountains of Lemnos

In the rich architectural polyptych of the island, the traditional fountains comprise an especially important chapter of the anonymous, in most cases, folk creation and serve as an indispensable vehicle of the local micro-history. The majority of the surviving fountains is dated from the second half of the nineteenth century to the beginning of the 1940’s, included. Some of them and a few older ones have occasionally, and for various reasons, attracted the interest of foreign travellers.

On the basis of the type of their roofing the fountains of Lemnos are divided in two groups: a. roofed fountains with supporting props and a free, functional space, similar to a vestibule, for weather protection of those waiting there for getting water, and especially of women while doing their laundry, b. unroofed fountains with a solid facade —from where the spout appears – in numerous morphical variations. Their sculptural decoration, mostly of symbolic character (cross, resettes, human and angelic heads, daemonic creatures, etc.) is sparing, although some examples exhibit a surprising sophisticated embellishment. Nevertheless, most fountains bear inlaid inscriptions referring to the year of their foundation and to the name of the sponsor, the latter being either the community or local benefactors or occasionally foreign dignitaries. The name of the craftsman, with a sole exception, is silenced; it has been entrusted to the oral tradition, which however is often forgerfull.