Olous or Olus is an ancient, sunken city situated at the present day town of Elounda.
This place was settled in an organized fashion from Minoan times. Olous was one of the most important of the hundreds of cities of ancient Crete with more than 30,000 inhabitants. It was located on the Isthmus where the island of Hersonissus, opposite, unites with the main land mass of Crete. During ancient times, the isthmus was wider and at a higher level. It was cut off during 1897-98 by the French during their command of Mirambello, shortly before Crete became self governed. The governmental system, or rules of law, of Olous, was a type of democracy. Here they worshiped the gods Tallaios, Zeus, Apollo and Vristomartis, the latter to whom a temple was dedicated. To honor them, they used to do the “talladutes” games in the nude, and also the “vristmatia” games. They also worshipped Hesculapius who had saved the town from an unknown disease that had plagued the Oloudians.
According to the narrations of various travelers of ancient times, we learn that the inhabitants had a social and professional level of development. From inscriptions that have been found, it is suggested that they were engaged in trade, with maritime affairs and in crushing shells to make colours and paints. They were also involved in the mining of whetting stones.
Olous disappeared either because of a landslide or as a result of the large earthquake of 780 A.D. Many ancient artifacts and inscriptions have been discovered from here, most of which are on display in the archaeological museum of Aghios Nikolaos, or at The Louvre.
Olous used to have its own currency. Sborous accounts for eleven different types of coins, most of them depicting Vritomaris Artemis on the one side, and Zeus as an eagle, dolphin or star on the other.
The prosperity of Olounda continued on until the first Byzantine period. This fact is revealed by the church at Poros, with its great mosaic, which can be visited today, and by the church of Kolokytha with its beautiful white marble.
At Leroklis, (the Book of Sinekdinos), you can find Olous under the name of Aligos. Darkness, however, shrouds the following years between the ninth and thirteenth centuries.