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Diktaion Antron
Category: Ancient Site
Prefecture: Lassithi
Address: Τ.Κ. 72053, Ψυχρό (Νομός Λασιθίου)
Telephone:
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Diktaion Antron


Working hours: 08:00 - 20:00


The cave of Psychro is one of the most important cult places of Minoan Crete. The use of caves as cult places was one of the basic characteristics of the religious beliefs of the ancient Cretans. Cult practice probably begins in the Early Minoan period (2800-2300 B.C.) - although in the antechamber are preserved traces of an even earlier occupation - but the most important finds date from the Middle Minoan period (1800 B.C.) and later, as it was used for many centuries, until the Geometric (8th century B.C.) and the Orientalising-Archaic period (7th-6th century B.C.). The finds prove that it was visited as late as the Roman period. Pilgrims dedicated many offerings, such as figurines of humans, gods, animals, double axes etc. The excavators and several scholars identify the cave as the famous "Diktaian Cave", where Zeus was born and brought up with the aid of Amaltheia and the Kouretes, and which is connected with myths as this of the seer Epimenides who "slept" here, or the coupling of Zeus with Europa. 

In the last decades of the previous century, inhabitants of the area found ancient items inside the cave; this fact led in 1886, the archaeologists Joseph Chatzidakis and F. Halbherr to the site, where they conducted an excavation, but not on a large scale. The cave was also investigated by A. Evans in 1897, by J. Demargne, and by G. Hogarth in 1899, but systematic excavation has not taken place yet. The finds uncovered during legal and illegal excavations were almost all published in 1961 by J. Boardman. The numerous offerings to the cave are now exhibited in the Herakleion Museum and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. 

At 1,025 m. a.s.l., a steep path leads up to a plateau in front of the narrow entrance to the cave. On the right side is an antechamber (42 x 19 m.) with a rectangular altar, 1m. high, built of field stones; this area yielded Neolithic potsherds, Early Minoan burials (2800-2200 B.C.), and offerings of the Middle Minoan period (2200-1550 B.C.). In the northern part of the antechamber, at a lower level, a chamber is formed, which included an irregular enclosure with patches of roughly paved floor, forming a sort of a temenos. 

The large hall (84 x 38 m.) has an inclined floor and a small chamber opening to the left end; one of its niches is called the "liknon" of Zeus. A larger chamber (25 x 12 m.) formed on the right side is divided into two parts: one has a small pool, and the other a very impressive stalactite, known as "the mantle of Zeus". Inside the main chamber had been deposited many offerings, mostly bronze figurines and sheets (1, 2), daggers, arrowheads, and double axes.

Author
V. Zografaki, archaeologist


Telephone: +30 28410 22462, +30 28410 24943, +30 28410 22382
Fax: +30 28410 22462
http://odysseus.culture.gr/h/2/eh255.jsp?obj_id=1628

 

Places near Diktaion Antron


Psychro
Psychro 386 hits

Psychro village is one of the 18 villages of Lassithi Plateau, and located southwest of the plateau at the foot of Mountain Touba Moutsouna.

 

It is perhaps the best known village of the plateau since above it there is the famous cave Dikteon Andron where according to mythology, the Olympian god Zeus was born. The Psychro village altitude is 828 meters and dates back to the Venetian period, like the other villages of the plateau.

The village despite the few inhabitants which according to the census of 2011 amounted to 133 inhabitants, benefits of the presence of the active Cultural Association of village which organizes numerous of cultural events and ensures the preservation of local traditions and the cleanliness of the village.