+ Cycladia Travel Guides | History



Milos Island name
The island of Milos has been known with several names throughout the years, with some of the most common being Melas, Memvlis, Gorgis, Vivlis, Mimmalis, Akytos and Zefiria. According to the legend the name that survived, “Milos”, a variation of the Greek word for “Apple”, is attributed to the first settler of the island, a royal hero, who was sent there from Cyprus by Aphrodite. Another theory implies that the name has originated from the pre-Hellenic word “Vylos “, meaning sheep, due to the many sheep that were principally found on the island, which was gradually changed throughout years into  Milos.
Milos was one of the first Cycladic islands to be inhabited since 12.000 years ago. It is believed that its first inhabitants were the Kares or the Phoenicians and then, during 980-800 B.C., the Dorians who migrated from the Peloponnese.  
Earlier Times
Not only the island was inhabited at a very early stage but it also flourished at an early stage due to the trade of the obsidian stone.  The inhabitants of the island were experts on working with this glass mineral and were also occupied with its export. Many different types of tools made by obsidian stone have been found scattered all over Greece dating back to the Neolithic Era.

During Bronze AgeMilos became an important center of the Cycladic civilization. Exceptional artifacts such as pottery, ceramics and wall paintings as well as the first houses were built.  Some historical remains from this period can be found in Phylakopi and the archeological museums of Athens and Milos.

After Phylakopi was abandoned in the Archaic period, a new town was constructed and a high wall was erected for fortification purposes. Arts and civilization started flourishing again and the famous Melian amphora was now introduced.
Classical Period
The inhabitants of Milos participated in the Persian wars standing on the side of Greeks. During the Peloponnesian war, though, and since they could not pick sides, the Athenians tried to force them to abandon the island. The Melians left the island and returned only after the Spartans have defeated Athenians.
Hellenistic Period
Just like the history of Greece, the history of Milos also followed a steady pace of growth especially in the fields of trading arts. Some of the most magnificent worldwide popular masterpieces where created on Milos, like the statue of Aphrodite currently exhibited at the Louvre museum.
Roman Period
Keeping its steady pace, by the Roman period the island accomplished great prosperity and its inhabitants became very wealthy. New buildings and architectural marvels were built such as the marble theater. Christianity was also introduced at that time and catacombs were built in order to serve  as places both for religious rituals and burial spots for the deceased. During this time, the inhabitants started to move outside the walls of the town and scattered all around the island.
Byzantine Period
Being part of the “Theme of the Aegean” the island of Milos as well as the rest of the Cycladic islands went under the Roman Domination.
The Venetian and Turkish Domination
After the fall of Constantinople the Aegean Islands were dominated by the Venetians. The Melians attempted to regain their freedom by revolting against the Venetians but since they did not have  the Byzantine fleet support, they never succeeded. In 1580 all islands of the Aegean went under the administration of Sultan Murat III and Chora of Milos was utterly destroyed.

Hellenic Revolution and later years
The Melians have always been free spirited, free minded and always played an important role in battles and fights for their freedom. Milos Island was one of the first islands to rebel against the Turks for the Hellenic Revolution of 1821. During World War I the island’s harbor was used as a navy yard for the French and the British fleets while Adamas hosted the naval administration of the Aegean. During World War II Milos was conquered by the Germans but was able to win back its freedom after about 4 years.

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