Gavdos: A brief history

history comb

 

Gavdos as we know it to be called presently, has been known by several names throughout it’s history. Such names include : Cauda, Clauda, Gaudos, Claudos, Gotzo and Gondzo.

The island has also been identified as the possible site of the fabled Ogygia… the island where Calypso, daughter of Atlantis, held Odysseus prisoner for a period of 7 years with the intent of marrying him. However she was forced to release him by direct order from Zeus after Athena complained to him about Calypso’s actions.

The island has supported a permanent population since neolithic times and by 900 AD the island’s population consisted of approximately 8,000 inhabitants. Archaeological evidence has proved that the Roman empire was present on the island and that the island’s flora was, at that time, overexploited beginning a process of erosion continuing to this day.

Ottoman reign on Gavdos between 1665 to 1895 reduced the population to a mere 500 inhabitants by the year 1882. There remains, on Gavdos, a reference to the Saracens; a beach by the name of Sarakiniko ( Greek for Saracen )

Walking around Gavdos today one can still see evidence that there was agriculture on the island. This can be seen by the abandoned terraces that litter the island.

The 1930’s saw the island become a place of exile of communists, and thereafter following the German victory at the battle of Crete during world war II is where the allied forces evacuated their troops to.

Finally in the 1950’s with urbanisation, the islanders were able to exchange their land on the island with ex-Turkish land on Crete. The community they formed became known as Gavdiotika, which is a part of the town of Paleochora.

Abandoned terraces

Abandoned terraces

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