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Oropedio Lasithiou (Municipality, Greece)

Οροπέδιο Λασιθί&

Last modified: 2019-10-26 by ivan sache
Keywords: oropedio lasithiou |
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Flag of Oropedio Lasithiou - Image by Tomislav Šipek, 4 July 2019

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Presentation of Oropedio Lasithiou

The municipality of Oropedio Lasithiou (2,387 inhabitants in 2011, 13,000 ha) is located in central eastern Crete. Its capital is the village of Tzermiado (637 inh.). The municipality was not changed with the 2011 local government reform.

Ivan Sache, 4 July 2019

Flag of Oropedio Lasithiou

The flag of Oropedio Lasithiou (photo) is white with the municipal emblem in the center and name.

The emblem recalls the local, iconic windmills.
The plateau has been inhabited since around 600 BC, drawing settlers with willing soil and an only occasionally harsh climate. However, the high water table that makes the soil so fertile also makes tending to the land a bit tricky due to the water saturation. During the winters, rain run off would flood the fields, and destroy the harvest. To combat this, drainage ditches were dug that solved part of the problem.
Then in the 20th century, the signature white windmills started to pop up all over the plateau to help with proper irrigation. Most of the windmills had stone bodies, and white cloth sails. Eventually, around 10,000 of the iconic windmills appeared across the area, using wind power to pump water to the various fields. In conjunction with the previously dug ditches, the system was able to make crop production viable. It also had the added benefit of giving the area a lovely symbol.
Today, only around 5,000 of the windmills are still standing. Many of them have been abandoned, as people living on the plateau have taken to more modern means of irrigation. However the remaining windmills still remember a simpler time, and give the area a look like no where else in the world.
[ Atlas Obscura]

The right part of the emblem probably features a representation of Zeus, who was allegedly born in the Cave of Psychro.
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 BC) - although in the antechamber are preserved traces of an even earlier occupation - but the most important finds date from the Middle Minoan period (1800 BC) and later, as it was used for many centuries, until the Geometric (8th century BC) and the Orientalising-Archaic period (7th-6th century BC). 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 BC), and offerings of the Middle Minoan period (2200-1550 BC). 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, daggers, arrowheads, and double axes.
[Ministry of Culture and Sports]

Tomislav Šipek & Ivan Sache, 4 July 2019