Photographer's Note

Gortyn (Greek Γορτυς/Gortys, also Γορτύν/Gortun or Γόρτυνα/Gortuna) is a town in the Greek island of Crete, 45 km away from the capital Heraklion. It was a very important city during the age of the Minoan civilization.

Gortyn, the Roman capital of Crete, was first inhabited around 3000 B.C., and was a flourishing Minoan town between 1600-1100 B.C. It prospered during classical and Roman times, and was destroyed by an Arab invasion in A.D. 824.

Among archaeologists, ancient historians, and classicists, Gortyn is primarily known today because of the 1884 discovery of the Gortyn Code which is both the oldest and most complete known example of a code of ancient Greek law. The code was discovered on the site of the Odeon, a structure built by the Roman emperor Trajan, which reused for the second time stones from an inscription-bearing wall that had been incorporated into the foundation of an earlier Hellenistic structure. Today, a modern structure at the site of the mostly ruined Odeon houses the stones bearing the famous law code.

Greek mythology has it that the town witnessed one of Zeus' many affairs — with the princess Europa whom the god, disguised as a bull, abducted from Lebanon. Europe was named after Europa, who conceived her first son with Zeus under a plane tree in Gortyn. Gortys was a son of Rhadamanthus, king of Crete and brother of Minos.

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