Gortyn was for hundreds of years a major Roman provincial capital: it oversaw Crete and Cyrenaica. Only two buildings have been excavated and are monitored by site guards: the Odeon and Titus' church —he whom Paul left in Crete to evangelize the island. The rest of the large city lies under olive groves, neglected.
This olive tree, one of the oldest and largest in Greece, was planted around the year 400, after earthquakes had damaged most buildings, but hundreds of years before the city was finally destroyed by Saracen invaders. Some jokester inserted the broken column in the tree when it was still young, and the tree grew around it.
Of all the things the average Cretan, Greek, Roman and Byzantine people did in Gortyn for the two thousand years that they made this city their home, this prank is pretty much all that is left.