08 Jun 1801

Reverend Edward Daniel Clarke, a Cambridge University professor, recounts his impressions of local customs in the village of Athienou


Reverend Edward Daniel Clarke, a Cambridge University professor, recounts his impressions of local customs in the village of Athienou:

The venerable pair with whom we rested in the village of Attién, were the parents of our mule-drivers, and owners of the mules. They made us welcome to their homely supper, by placing two planks across a couple of benches, and setting thereon boiled pumpkins, eggs, and some wine of the island in a hollow gourd. I observed upon the ground the sort of stones used for grinding corn, called Querns in Scotland, common also in Lapland, and in all parts of Palestine. These are the primaeval mills of the world; and they are still found in all corn countries, where rude and antient customs have not been liable to those changes introduced by refinement. The employment of grinding with these mills is confined solely to females; and the practice illustrates the observation of our Saviour, alluding to this custom in his prediction concerning the day of judgement: “Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” In these little cottages we found very large establishments for bees, but all the honey thus made is demanded by the Governor; so that keeping these insects is only considered as the means of an additional tax. The manner, however, in which the honey is collected, is so curious, and so worthy of imitation, that it merits a particular description: the contrivance is very simple, and was doubtless suggested by the more antient custom, still used in the Crimea, of harbouring bees in Cylinders made from the bark of trees. They build up a wall formed entirely of earthen cylinders, each about three feet in length, placed, one above the other, horizontally, and closed at the extremities with mortar. This wall is the covered with a shed, and upwards of one hundred swarms may thus be maintained within a very small compass. Close to this village grew the largest Carob-tree we noticed in all our travels. It is, by some, called St. John bread-tree; the Ceratonia Siliqua of Linnaeus. It was covered with fruit, the pods being then green, and had attained the size of our largest English oaks. We could neither discover nor hear of antiquities near this village; except one large reservoir for water, pointed out as an ancient work, although probably of Venetian origin. This is still in a perfect state, lined with square blocks of stone, about twenty-five feet deep, and fifteen feet wide. It is situated in a field close to the village.