The village of Melidoni and the cave were named after Antonios Melidonis, one of the protagonists of the rebellion against the Turks, who originated from the village. Gerontospilios is very important due to the archeological findings, some of which are exhibited in the Archeological Museum of Rethimnon. Moreover, the cave has played a tragic role in the history of Cretan revolution against the Turks, in 1824.The cave became more infamous in 1824 when, during the Revolution some 250 unarmed villagers, including women and children were suffocated when the entrance was sealed and fires lit by the Turks thrown in to the cave following a three month siege. Not until 1834 when the English explorer Robert Pashley visited Melidoni did Manolis Kirmizakis, the only survivor of the events, inspect the cave discovering the bones of the martyrs. Today there is a large sarcophagus within the cave containing the bones of those killed and the monument is now considered extremely important in defining the independent Cretan character.A small chapel is built in the entrance of the cave where the victims are commemorated every year. Now back to mythology Talos lived here, a prehistoric giant robot that Zeus gave to King Minos as a present to protect the island of Crete by crossing it from side to side with just a few steps! The cave’s history goes back to the late Neolithic period, as indicated by the various Neolithic tools and items found inside it. During the middle Minoan period (2100 – 1600 B.C) the cave was a worship site, probably of some female deity. Among the findings is a double copper axe was found dating back to this period. During the Roman period the cave was used as a sanctuary of “Taleos Hermes” and sacrifices were performed here to honor him. The cave was actually a significant sacred site in the region, as it was situated on the “crossroad” of three great ancient cities: Axos, Eleftherna and Grivilon.
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