The prosperity of the Classical period led to a significant increase in the population, necessitating a means of population control. Aristotle claims that this was the main cause for the establishment of pederasty as a state-sanctioned institution - an action which he attributes to king Minos (Politics II 10). It was a tradition for which the Cretans were famous in ancient times, as they were for the introduction of the myth of Zeus and Ganymede, an action for which Plato blames them in his Laws.

In the Classical and Hellenistic period Crete fell into a pattern of combative city-states, harboring pirates. Gortyn, Kydonia (Chania) and Lyttos challenged the primacy of ancient Knossos, preyed upon one another, invited into their feuds mainland powers like Macedon and its rivals Rhodes and Ptolemaic Egypt, a situation that all but invited Roman interference. Ierapytna (Ierapetra) gained supremacy on eastern Crete.

In 88 BC Mithridates VI of Pontus on the Black Sea, went to war to halt the advance of Roman hegemony in the Aegean. On the pretext that Knossos was backing Mithradates, Marcus Antonius Creticus attacked Crete in 71 BC and was repelled. Rome sent Quintus Caecilius Metellus with three legions to the island. After a ferocious three-year campaign Crete was conquered for Rome in 69 BC, earning this Metellus the agnomen "Creticus." At the archaeological sites, there seems to be little evidence of widespread damage associated with the transfer to Roman power: a single palatial house complex seems to have been razed. Gortyn seems to have been pro-Roman and was rewarded by being made the capital of a province that at times joined Cyrenaica to Crete.

Gortyn was the site of the largest Christian basilica on Crete, the Basilica of Ayios Titos dedicated to Saint Titus, the first Christian bishop in Crete, to whom Paul addressed one of his epistles. The church was begun in the 5th century. As revealed in the Epistle to Titus in the New Testament and confirmed by Cretan poet Epimenides the people of Crete were considered by these Christians to be liars and gluttons. (Note: Epimenides was a 6th century poet. Paul cited him in Titus, but he cannot be said to confirm anything)

Crete continued to be part of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine empire, a quiet cultural backwater, until it fell into the hands of Iberian Muslims (see Abo Hafs Omer Al-Baloty) in 824, who established an emirate on the island. The archbishop of Gortyn (Cyril) was assassinated and the city so thoroughly devastated it was never reoccupied. Candia (Heraklion), a city built by the Iberian Muslims, was made capital of the island instead.

The Emirate of Crete became a center of Muslim piratical activity in the Aegean, and a thorn on Byzantium's side. Successive campaigns to recover the island failed until 961, when Nicephorus Phocas reconquered Crete for the Byzantines. They held it until 1204, when it fell into the hands of the Venetians at the time of the Fourth Crusade. The Venetians retained the island until 1669, when the Ottoman Turks took possession of it.

Cretan Pottery

In Creta pottery, observing the materials, the forms and the technique of the manufacture (specifically of big jars) but also the way of ceramics baking that our ancient ancestors used, you feel that this unique pottery art has passed through centuries without radical changes and is continued even today.

Creta Ceramics

The Cretan pottery makers were traveling, in well organized groups, around the island bringing together all required equipment and setting up hole new ceramics laboratories in the areas they visited. In this way they served the exact needs of remote areas while it had proved much easier to carry the pottery equipment than carry the bulky and heavy pots around the island with donkeys...

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creta ceramics