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Cave of Eileithyia

Last Update: Jan 2010
Caves, Cultural heritage, Archaeological site AMNISSOS , HERAKLIO , GREECE

Cave of Eileithyia - Overview

  Eileithyia was a goddess that protected childbirth and this cave was the most important place of her worship. According to tradition she was born by Hera inside this cave, which is also mentioned by Homer in the Odyssey (t 188). The finds proove that it was continuously used from Neolithic until late Roman times, with more intensive occupation noted for the Neolithic, Minoan, and Roman periods. Evidence for cult practice in the Early Christian times (5th century AD) also exists. Restricted investigation was carried out in 1885 by Joseph Chatzidakis. The site was systematically excavated by Spyridon Marinatos in 1929-1938.

  The most important monuments are:
  The cave of Eileithyia. It is 64.5 m. long, entered from the east. Inside there was a rectangular anteroom and a rectangular peribolos surrounding cylindrical stalagmites (altar or cella).
  Courtyard with the altars. The courtyard is exactly outside the cave and was probably used for ceremonial activities. Buildings of the 14th-13th centuries BC were discovered here and interpreted as priests' houses by their excavator.

Cave of Eileithyia - Map

Executives & Departments

  • Archaeological service:, Tel.: 2810 226470, 2810 226092, Fax: 2810 343574, Email:  
    23rd Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, Heraklio

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Visiting Information • By appointment
Ancient Cave • Sacred cave • Neolithic period, 6500-3200 BC • Minoan civilization, 3200-1450 BC • Ancient historical times, 1050 BC- AD 324

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