13/50.- The Gortys Law Code, 450 B.C.


We begin our day early in the morning by taking the Iraklio-Gortys bus from Chanioporta.

Gortyn or Gortys is a vast archeological site in the plain of Mesara, at an 80 minutes bus ride from Iraklio. We start our excursion early in the morning departing from Chanioporta, Iraklio, on a Gortys bus. The landscape that unfolds under our eyes is a life-size Cretan postcard of olive trees-covered hills and valleys. It is probably the most convincing illustration of the island's millenary fame as an olive oil producer and exporter. This is also how we make sense of the great numbers of pithoi (storage jars) found on Crete, testimony of a prosperous economy and commercial past.

We arrive at Gortys, a major Cretan city since the late Minoan period, 11th c. BC. The area knew successive phases of development and fortification. Of notable importance on the site are the Archaic period (7th c. BC), the Roman and Hellenistic period (5th-1st c. BC) the early Christian, early Byzantine era 414 -824.
Here is a picture of the famous Code of Law of Gortys dated 450 BC which one can admire in situ. The complete code of law based on Minoan tradition, an inscription in Dorian Greek, boustrophedon writing (one line read right to left, the next left to right).The code is the first Greek written code of law and also the earliest European code. The code was carved on the wall of a public building so anyone could read it. The Gortys law code found by emperor Trajan is not a penal code but rather a civil law code.

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