The Western Excavations




The Western Excavations


The Cardo to the Nymphaeum


The Nymphanean


The Gymnasium


The Abduction of Europa Mosaic


Mosaic Showing Named Gladiators


Roman Housing







Island Tour



The large archaeological site known as the Western Excavations is fortunate that it lies on the outskirts of the town and has therefore avoided being built on. Some of the islands oldest and most intriguing archaeological buildings are on this site.


After the 1933 earthquake the excavations by the Italians brought to light many findings the Mycenaean, Geometric and early Xtian eras. Many statues and mosaics had been transferred to the Castle of the Knights in Kos and also to decorate the Grand Masters Palace in Rhodes. Although some remarkable statues and mosaics are exhibited in the Kos Archaeological Museum, many were "removed" to Italy and Germany during World War II. During excavations an ancient graveyard containing the graves of 77 young children and infants was also found.


The site lies at the centre of the Roman towns grid pattern road system, where the main north to south road, the Cardo, crosses the main east to west road, the Decumanus Maximus.  The Cardo was paved, 33 foot wide with pavements and a complicated sewage and drainage system, lined with arcades.


Lying to the east of the Cardo is a large square unimpressive building which is the 3rd century BCE Roman Nymphaeum or Folica a sanctuary of the Nymphs.  Nymphaeums were generally buildings  used for leisure, where playing fountains cooled the air for the patrons. The interior is quite a contrast, a highly decorated cloister has eleven marble pillars, walls decorated in coloured marble and a mosaic patio. It has also been called a luxury public urinal? A staircase built against the outer wall leads up to the Acropolis.


To the west of the Cardo, on "Carved" Street, lies the Hellenistic Gymnasium, known as the Xysto, from the name xisoun which was the procedure of the athletes habit being scraped for hair removal and to clean it of the oil with which their bodies were anointed before they competed in their athletic events at the local Stadium.


The building still has an imposing colonade of seventeen restored columns. In the centre of the courtyard is a water tank, swimming pool, for washing their bodies, and there are also remains of a Thermes, bath house.


To the north east of the road junction lies several houses including the building known as the House of Europa because of a 3rd century mosaic in a small hallway, which depicts a naked Europa being abducted to Crete by Zeus in the form of a bull. Several more elaborate mosaics, and many statues, since removed, adorned this lavish household.


Lying to the south of the Western Excavations are the Odeum, the Casa Romana (a renovated Roman villa) facing which is the ruined altar and Temple of Dionysis, and to the west is the remains of the Stadium.