The Homeric Lyttos?


Smari Citadel
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At the top of the rocky hill of the Prophet Elijah (Profitis Ilias) near Smari, at an altitude of 590m, there are the ruins of a citadel with a strong defensive wall. The place has panoramic views across the fertile planes of Kasteli and Smari. According to the archaeologist Hadjivallianou the citadel was the actual site of ancient Lyttos mentioned by Homer. The city was inhabited from 1800 BC till 630 BC, before being abandoned by its inhabitants.

Within the city walls, there are three oblong buildings, and on the north side, a sanctuary of Athena Ergani was identified, as verified by ceramic plates depicting the goddess Athena. Indeed, they are regarded as the oldest representations of Athena in Crete. Around the peak, a settlement was built inside a second enclosure. The village is connected to the citadel through a stone-paved street. The exterior of the second wall hosted large buildings, which probably served as warehouses and workshops.

It is also very interesting to see the terraces outside the citadel in which the inhabitants of the city managed to keep the minimal soil of the area and cultivate their wheat. Moreover, the development of the city in such a wild and rocky part would not be possible without the existence of the water spring now located inside the church of the Prophet Elijah, a few meters below the peak.

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Additional Info

  • Location: Heraklion Prefecture
  • Type: Ancient Settlement
  • Peak Period: Minoan Era (3000 BC-1200 BC), Dark Age (1200 BC - 800 BC), Classical & Hellenistic Age (800 BC - 69 BC)
  • Accessibility: Dirt track

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