|History of Kamilari|
Kamilari is a traditional Cretan farming village that has still kept its original character. The village was inhabited from Early Minoan times. This is demonstrated by local finds, such as the Minoan tholos tomb discovered a little outside the village in north east direction. In 1959 this tholos tomb (also known as a beehive tomb), dated to the early Neopalatial Minoan period, was discovered.
The name Kamilari strangely looks like the Greek word "Kamila", which means "camel". One often heard explanation is the existence of camels in this area in the past, possibly brought to drink in the fountains of the village. This explanation raises doubts from historians, as no camel bones have ever been discovered in excavations in Crete, so nobody knows if camels ever lived on Crete. The name might also come from the shape of the Kamilari hills (as seen from Phaistos), which are supposed to recall the shape of a camel's back.
Other historians say it comes from the Byzantine name "Kamilieris", which meant "the guide of the camels". Anyway, the village is mentioned by the name "Camilari", recorded with 77 inhabitants at this time. Its earliest-known mention in the Venetian archives is in 1370. Later, in historical times, when the coasts of Crete were plagued by pirate raids, Kamilari found itself in an ideally located place far from the sea. Its position on the hilltops ensured a good view of the plain and coast on the one hand, and provided better defense for the inhabitants in case of a raid on the other.
At this point we'd like to thank Prof. Vincenzo La Rosa and Dr. Luca Girella for providing detailed information on the history of the area.