Tenos is dominated by Mount Xomborgo, which divides the island on two parts, the NE more rough than the SW. The first settlement, Vryokastro, was along the South West coast at Vryokastro. It is a typical site of the Early Bronze Age on a naturally fortified promontory 2km South of Chora. The settlement was inhabited until the Middle Bronze Age. A tholos tomb at Agia Thekla attests human occupation during the Mycenaean period, though the settlement associated with it has not been located yet (perhaps at Panormos or inside the `cyclopean` walls at Xobourgo).
A few Early Iron Age cemeteries are attested (i.e. Kardianni, Chtikado) but the main site developed just South of the Xobourgo peak reusing the partly preserved Mycenaean wall. Recent excavations here have uncovered a large cemetery that gradually became a place of ancestral cult, from the end of the Geometric period down to the Archaic. Here, major advances for our knowledge of the earlier stages of formation of the Cycladic sanctuaries have occurred thanks to the excavations of the University of Athens directed by Nota Kourou, following the footsteps of Nikolaos Kontoleon.
The past decade or so, an important cult place, allowing to observe the transition from an open air cult to a roofed temple has been revealed. The main element of the cult was the lighting of fire in pits in which offerings were thrown during a ritual. This open air cult was soon replaced by a probably roofed building (a “Sacred House”, as qualified by the excavator), decorated with the so far earliest known clay frieze with figured decoration. Not far away but extra muros was another cult place of the Archaic-Classical period, identified as a Thesmophorion.
The site of Xobourgo was occupied until the 4th century BC at least but the main urban centre of Classical times was under the present capital of Chora. The asty was fortified in the 4th century; an aqueduc brought water to the city from several kilometres away. Despite the fact that a few traces of walls are visible today, the plan of the city is mostly unknown. The location of the sanctuary of Dionysos known from the sources remains unknown.
The main sanctuary lies outside the walls, by the cocast at modern Kiona. It was dedicated to the sea deities Poseidon and Amphitrite. A sacred way, bordered by tombs, linked this sanctuary to city and with numerous tombs on the side. Tombs have also been excavated alongside the other roads which led to other smaller settlements, such as at Kokkina Petrradia and Ai Giorgis. Rural sanctuaries have also been identified, one dedicated to Gaia near Agia Thekla, and one of unknown deity just opposite Andros.
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