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In antiquity it was a place of worship, because it was believed to be the cave where the titan Rhea hid the infant Zeus, to protect him from his father Cronus who intended to swallow him like others of his progeny. It is one of a number of caves believed to have been the birthplace or hiding place of Zeus. According to a variant of this legend, the Kouretes, a band of mythical warriors, undertook to dance their wild, noisy war dances in front of the cave, so that the clamour would keep Cronus from hearing the infant's crying.
Excavations have revealed a large number of votive cult offerings on the site.