Cretan History

Lyktos

Ancient Lyktos
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Ancient Lyktos or Littos is located near the settlement of Xidas. The city was one of the strongest of ancient Crete, an eternal enemy of Knossos and owned the port of Hersonissos. It is reported by all the major ancient historians. According to the references, it was the oldest city of Crete, very well organized and built, and was the point where the parents of Rhea advised her to go and give birth to Zeus.

Lyktos was a colony of the Lacedaemonians and here Karnian Apollo was worshiped. The city took part in the Trojan War, where the head of Lyktaeans, Kiranos, sacrificed himself to save Idomeneus from the spear of Hector.

Lyktos dominated throughout Eastern Crete and was in constant war with its eternal foe, Knossos. In 343 BC Knossos occupied Lyktos, but the Spartans and helped the Lyktaeans to regain their city. However, in 220BC and while Lyktos was in war against Ierapytna, Knossos invaded the unguarded Lyktos, destroyed it completely and captivated the women. When the Lyktaeans return hadn’t the courage to even enter the city and found refuge in Lappa (today’s Argiroupolis). This was also the starting point for almost all Cretan towns to group against Knossos and ask the help of Philip. Thus, we reached the famous First Cretan War.

With the help of Sparta, the town was rebuilt and became one of the strongest cities in Crete, again. During the Roman period, it strongly resisted the Roman general Metellus, who finally occupied it. In the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion there are statues of Marcus Aurelius and Trajan from Lyktos.

For the water supply of the Lyktos, the water from the spring Kournia, located between Kera and Krassi, was moved to Lyktos through a colossal aqueduct, part of which survives north of Kostamonitsa village and looks like a wall (tihos).

The emblem of Lyktos coins was an eagle with open wings, and the head of a wild boar with the word ΛΥΤΤΙΩΝ (Lyktaeans). Many are the findings such as sculptures and two inscription of laws of the city written boustrophedon (alternating text direction per line).

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Additional Info

  • Location: Heraklion Prefecture
  • Type: Ancient City
  • Peak Period: Classical & Hellenistic Age (800 BC - 69 BC)
  • Accessibility: Paved road

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