Aptera was founded in the Geometric period, although the city is mentioned in the Linear B tablets found at Knossos (A-pa-ta-wa). It reached a peak in the Hellenistic period, with intense commercial and political activity. In the Roman period, the town had a more rural character. It was destroyed by an earthquake in the 7th century A.D. and much later, in the 12th century, the Monastery of Hagios Ioannes Theologos (St. John the Baptist) was founded at the site.
In 1942 the site was excavated by the German conquerors, who investigated the bipartite sanctuary and in 1958, St. Alexiou excavated parts of buildings and graves. In the years 1986-87 and 1992-95, systematic and salvage excavations were carried out by the Ephorate of Antiquities.
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