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During the 5th century BCE, the island kingdom was renowned for two principal things: its temple dedicated to the goddess Aphrodite, and the local trade of Tyrian purple, a dye made from the murex shellfish. The former attracted pilgrims from all across Greece while the latter was highly respected due to the immense labor required to produce it from the hundreds of thousands shellfish caught. Because of this, Tyrian purple was highly coveted and its export was enormously profitable for Kythera, which came to be known as the 'Home of the Tyrian Purple'.
The people of the island, especially sailors and fishermen, were avid worshipers of Aphrodite and often prayed her to watch over them in the surrounding waters, known for being tricky to navigate.
Kythera Island was made up of three regions, with the Chytra Atoll also considered part of it:
- Historically Kythera's association with Aphrodite exists due to the transmission of the cult of Astarte that began on the island during the Early Archaic Age, when Kythera was originally colonized by the Phoenicians.
- The emblem of Kythera is a stylized dove, the sacred bird of the goddess Aphrodite.