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Arabic Occupation

Arab Saracens conquered the island in 824 A.D., destroying the capital Gortyn and building a new one in present day Iraklion. They dug a moat (Khandak) all the way around the city and named it El Khandak.
Thus began almost a century and a half of Arab rule. Crete became the stronghold of the Saracen pirates in the eastern Mediterranean. The native Christian population was persecuted but continued to survive, especially in the mountainous areas.