Already in the 18th century, according to all indications, the inhabitants of various settlements of the island of Karpathos had begun to specialize in building techniques, to form cooperative groups and to travel out of their island looking for work.
Crete was one of their favourite destinations, particularly after the special conditions that were formed during the Egyptian occupation. The phenomenon of the Karpathian temporary labor migration to Crete intensified after the devastating earthquake of 1856 and continued for many decades. The Carpathian craftsmen arrived on the island by boat every spring and worked until late autumn, mainly on private building projects, but also in repair or construction of churches. In many cases, however, temporary migrations became permanent. Already in the early 20th century Karpathian craftsmen had settled in Crete, in the Poros district in Heraklion and in inland villages.
The chapter of the Karpathian migrations to Crete, both temporary and permanent, was finally closed in the 1920s, after the Asia Minor catastrophe. Many of the refugees who had settled on the island specialized in building occupations and created a new tradition that has been preserved to this day.
This work exploits archival sources and literary references to Karpathian masons but is based mainly on epigraphic evidence mostly found in East Crete, a favorite destination for the Karpathian collaborative groups. The Karpathian craftsmen signed their works, often naming the place of origin as an element of their identity.