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date: 08 February 2023

Crete, Greek and Romanlocked

Crete, Greek and Romanlocked

  • William Allison Laidlaw,
  • Lucia F. Nixon
  •  and Simon Price


Evidence for the history of the island comes both from literary sources, inscriptions, and coins and from excavation and (increasingly) field survey. The transition from bronze to iron age is still not fully understood, but some sites go back into the Dark Ages (Dictaean cave; the Idaean cave—finds start in the 8th cent.; refuge sites, e.g. Karphi and Vrokastro), but in historical times the island was predominantly *Dorian (Eteocretan, a non-Greek language, was used in places in the Archaic period, and traces survived into the 2nd cent. bce). Cretans prided themselves that *Zeus was born on Crete (see cretan cults and myths), they developed a peculiar temple form, and also eschewed the *hero-cults found on the Greek mainland. Of Homer's ‘Crete of the hundred cities’ over 100 names survive, but there seem to have been in the Classical and Hellenistic periods only about 40 city-states: Archaic Dreros, Prinias, and Axos, and 5th–2nd-cent. Lato, are well known archaeologically; *Cnossus, *Gortyn, and Lyttus were initially the most important, along with Cydonia and Hierapytna.


  • Roman Myth and Religion

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