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The mystery of Crete-The sheep with the golden teeth

Everybody knows that around the villages of Psiloritis mountain there are sheep with golden teeth. No one hesitates to narrate an experience or the first surprise felt when they first show these golden teeth but nobody actually has a tooth saved since an old prejudice is linked to the teeth. It is mentioned that several shepherds in the past first looked at the sheeps teeth before selling them and they kept these special animals as their own. This is a mystery which has created many myths and interesting stories while many people have thought of exploiting the fact for profit, but the truth is that only a few have actually seen the golden teeth except of course from the shepherds. It is rather difficult bumping into such sheep or even the gold deposit which is said to exist somewhere in the plateau of Nida. People actually used to think that there were gold mines from which plants drew substances passed to the sheep while eaten, giving them the odd teeth color, providing this way an explanation of the phenomenon that has never been confirmed by anyone.

The first time this phenomenon was observed was in 1415 when a monk from Florence named Christopher Buondelmonti came to Crete and wrote a description of what he had heard from descriptions although he never managed to see the golden-teeth sheep. He wrote that in Nida grows grass that makes sheep teeth become golden! Since then wanderers came from all over the world to witness that.

the mystery of crete

In 1620 another man named Piskaki wrote that the golden color remains even after the teeth are placed on fire and a practical doctor also recommended the use of chrysohorto (golden herb), which he thought gave the special color to the teeth of sheep, to people who had teeth problems.

Although tourists and visitors often ask the shepherds to look at a golden sheep tooth or even take one, the latter do not allow them to or they are reluctant to do so. The shepherds of Nida who are more familiar to the phenomenon give the most logical solution to this incident. A plant called nevrida eaten by sheep is responsible for their teeth becoming golden and actually it was thought that the oldest sheep in age had golden teeth, so this was a sign of old age. The newborns had white teeth, then they were becoming yellow and then golden and this was the time that the shepherds knew it was time to butcher them. Observation has shown them that it took quite some time for the sheeps teeth to become yellow.

Nevrida-The Golden Herb of Crete

Today researchers have proved that nevrida is the herb causing the sheeps teeth to become gold in color after some time. The scientific name of the plant is Polygonum Ideaum Hay. The herb is phosphorescent at nighttime so its distinctive green color is noticed from a distance. Apart from the herbs therapeutic use for decayed teeth or toothache it was also mashed and mixed with other herbs and then set on wounds, used as an analgesic on its own or for the production of special ointments for dermatologic use. The shepherds think that it helps the sheep produce more milk and thats why it is usually given to female sheep that have just given birth but the sheep seem to like it too since it is almost all over till mid July.

the golden herb of crete

A mystery...

golden teeth

Since there arent many golden jaws available scientists cannot study this phenomenon thoroughly so many allegations have taken place and only guessing is possible. What is more often stated by veterinarians is that possibly minerals cause sheep teeth to become golden but there are still several questions about the plant. If someone tries to cut it his hands are died red and if the same plant is put inside a vase with water then the water turns dark red and then the plants surface becomes sleek like a thin aluminum layer has covered it. Although the chemical substance of the plant has been examined the results could not explain everything mentioned above.

Way back in the past the existence of other phosphorescent plants has been mentioned, also used for medicinal reasons, so it is thought that all these plants are connected to the Cretan nevrida. People thought that such a plant should not be taken out from its roots since the person uprooting it would die as soon as the sun was up so the only way to take the plant out was the following: they would leave a dog starve for some days and then at nighttime they would tie him to the plant and show him meat at a distance. In its effort to reach the meat the dog would uproot the plant. They still thought that the dog would die in the morning so they would burry the animal immediately and honor it as a benefactor, offering secret sacrifices to it and only then they could take the root and use it to create drugs to cure severe diseases.

It is said that fluorescent plants grow in other places as well and not only in Crete so scientific expeditions have been organized for example to Roumeli in search of golden teeth, but the results were not fruitful. The plant is very difficult to find and although it glows in the dark it seems to vanish when you get close to it. This is such a mystery!

Another legend mentions that whoever finally gets the plant becomes rich since everything touched by it becomes golden!

I dont know about you but Im packing as we speak! Even if I dont find the plant I will enjoy another fabulous trip to Crete! Why dont you join me?

the mystery of crete

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