The island's mountainous terrain has always favoured pastoralism, mainly involving sheep and goats. Wool, meat, milk, hides and bone are not only used by the shepherd's family, but are also tradable commodities for use in the home and in cottage industries.
Throughout the long, difficult time spent in the mountains, shepherds take refuge in rough-built round stone buildings called mitata, where they also devote time to making cheese. This way of life demands a mode of behaviour and particular code of honour respected by all shepherds.
Milking by hand (Nelly's, Benaki Museum, Athens)
Cretan cheeses ripening
Mitato (shepherd's stone hut) (Benaki Museum)
Sheep grazing, 2006 (Yiannis Harkoutsis)
Sheep grazing on the mountains inland from Heraklion