Tarra, Crete

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Tarra or Tarrha (Greek: Τάρρα) was an ancient city of western Crete, near Samaria Gorge, at Agia Roumeli village. It is near the sea, on the hill, on the left bank of the stream bank. It was probably established in the Classical period and was very important religious centre. The city flourished in the Greco-Roman period. There was the cult of Apollo Tarraios. There were found parts of his temple. Tarra in frequently cited in the ancient sources.

Although it was small town, Tarra had its own coins. The coins have the head of Cretan wild goat, arrow, and bee. Tarra had monetary union with Elyros, Yrtakina and Lissos. The coins belong to the 3rd and 2nd century BC, when Tarra became a member of the Republic of Cretans. The city had established a colony of the same name in the Caucasus. It is also believed that Tarra of South Italy was another colony of the city. It probably founded Lampa, also on Crete.

In 1415, Buondelmonti detected in the ruins of the Temple of Apollo, an inscription in Greek that was saying: “Peel your shoes, cover your head and come in.” A similar inscription was found at the Temple of Matala. The custom of entering the temple without shoes is ancient. Apollo, after the murder of Python, went to Tarra, where there were done purgatorial rituals by priest Karmanoras. According to Pausanias, Apollo “in the house of Karmanor, Apollo made love with nymph Akakallidi”. The nymph gave birth to twins, Phylakides, and Philanders. A goat fed them. Therefore, the Elyrians presented to Delphi bronze goat feeding to infants. In Tarra, there were glassworks workshops.

It was the birthplace of the author Lucillus of Tarrha or Loukillos. He commented on the Argonautics by Apollonios of Rhodes. Chrysothemis, a lyre player, son of Karmanor, who won at the Pythian festival, was from Tarra as well. Tarra is one of the city that signed decree with Eumenes B’ in 170 BC. Robert Pashley was the first who detected the location of the city. In the area, there was found stone stele with inscribed double axe. It is exhibited at the Archaeological Museum of Chania.

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Coordinates: 35°14′19.18″N 23°57′53.08″E / 35.2386611°N 23.9647444°E / 35.2386611; 23.9647444