Mt. Dykti Cave

Greek mythology on the island of Crete could be said to start at Mount Dykti Cave. Here, the myth of Zeus seizing the throne of the gods from his father, Kronos, is often recounted.


View out from Mount Dykti Cave onto the plane below.
View out from Mount Dykti Cave onto the plane below.
Descending into the cave passage
Descending into the cave passage

The myth begins with Chaos and from Chaos came Earth and Sky. Earth and Sky gave birth to Rhea and Kronos. Rhea and Kronos were brother and sister as well as husband and wife. One day Kronos was told by an oracle that one of his sons would overthrow him. Kronos decided he would devour all of his children in an effort to avoid being overthrown. Eventually, Rhea became tired of Kronos eating their children and decided she will save her next born son. She decended down into the cave on Mt. Dykti and gave birth to Zeus. In order to save baby Zeus, Rhea brought Kronos a rock which he promptly swallows believe it to be his newly born son. Meanwhile, in the cave, Zeus is raised by mythical goats called the Kri-kri. However, Kronos becomes wise to the plan and eventually finds Zeus whom he devours. After the devouring of Zeus, Rhea’s mother-in-law gives Kronos some magical herbs which causes him to vomit up all of the children he has devoured. Upon regurgitating Zeus and the other Olympians, a war broke out between them and the Titans. In the end, the Olympians won resulting in the overthrow of Kronos and the Titans along with Zeus being proclaimed leader of the Olympians.

This myth of the rise of the Olympians seems to be reflected in the Minoan palaces on Crete. Religion and myth seems to play a central role in Minoan palaces as evident through the shrines and other ritual areas found at the palaces. The myth of the rise of Zeus and the Olympians might be associated with the construction and use of lustral basins and pillar crypts. Lustral basins seem to mimic the decent down into the cave on Mt. Dykti. The pillar crypts seem to be respresentative of the speleothems within the cave. Finally, Dr. Morris, the leader for the trip, demonstrated a way of lighting the cave so that one of the speleothems appeared to show baby Zeus. This could have been done in the lustral basins or pillar crypts, but within the convenience of the Minoan palaces.


 

Cave formations within the cave that can be lit to show what appears to be a baby Zeus (obviously very hard to capture with a camera)
Cave formations within the cave that can be lit to show what appears to be a baby Zeus (obviously very hard to capture with a camera)
Further example of cave formations within Mount Dykti Cave
Further example of cave formations within Mount Dykti Cave
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Author: johnwallx

NC State University PhD Student in Earth Science with a masters in Geographic Information Systems.

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