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Aphrodite of Milos  


(7th century BC – 7th century AD)

At the end of the prehistoric era, the city of Phylakopi was abandoned for unknown, until today, reasons.
Then began the Dorian descend, entailing the installation of new races in various regions of Continental Greece and mainly Peloponnesus, and continued roughly up to 800 BC. By that period new migration starts from Peloponnesus to the Aegean islands. The Lacedaemoneans (Spartans) who colonized Milos mingled with the residents and got quickly absorbed.
Initially it is believed that the population lived scattered in small villages in various areas of the island. Later they were assembled in the fortified vicinity located at the entry of the harbour, now known as Klima.

View of the town from Trypiti

View of the town from Trypiti

Piracy was thriving on the Aegean after the collapse of the Minoan sovereignty at sea.  For this reason the new city was built in elevation, on the slopes of the hills of Prophet Elias, Pyrgianti and Klimatovouni. The hills surrounded the city as a closed petal and offered protection from invasions.
The city was fortified with walls that reached down to sea level and garrison towers. A Gate that gave access to other villages and rural areas existed towards the village of Trypiti. A well-protected small gulf was created at the foothill. This ancient harbour was gradually covered with sediment but remains of quays are still evident under water.
The city reached its peak during the archaic and the classical periods (7th-5th c. BC). It had big public buildings, forum, gymnasium, stadium, theatre, aqueduct, sanctuaries and cemetery. They developed pottery, sculpture, golden jewellery, seal engraving, silver coinage and a local alphabet - the Melian alphabet.
Klima was the hometown of great personalities of the letters and the arts, capable politicians and brave soldiers.

Poseidon, Athens Archaeological Museum

During the Peloponnesian war the Melians refused an alliance to the Athenians, who then besieged the city. After long resistance and continuous famine, the residents were forced to surrender. All men were arrested and slaughtered while women and children were sold as slave labourers (Thoucidides "Dialogue of Melians-Athenians").
The Athenians established “Klirouchiaof 500 colonists on the island, but after their defeat at Aegos Potamoi they were forced to withdraw. Lysandros then restored the population that had survived.
Klima was rebuilt and experienced a new era of prosperity at the Hellenistic period (223-146 BC). The most famous works of art of this period are Poseidon (Neptune), exhibited at the Archaeological museum of Athens, and Aphrodite (Venus) of Milos now displayed at the Louvre museum.

During the Roman rule, Milos experienced freedom and blooming (Pompeius chased and rid of piracy). The Romans exploited the mining wealth of the island. The pumice stone for mosaic polishing, the alunite in pharmaceuticals and for official clothing pigments, the white clay (Milino or terra Miliada) -of exceptional quality and well known since the antiquity-, that was used by the painters for the white colour*. Once again the trade of obsidian flourished, this time used in the manufacture of mosaics.
* Theofrastos "About stones" The dyers need the Melian only.

The Ancient Theatre

They also traded rural products, grain, wine, honey, sheep and goats and the famous cocks of Milos, which Romans engaged in cock fighting.

They restored the old buildings, built new ones and they enlarged the theatre, which they decorated with white marble.

In Tramythia they built a big sanctuary of Dionysus and thermal baths. The sanctuary was decorated with a big mosaic depicting geometrical drawings, fishes, birds, vine branches and grapes. The worship of Dionysus, god of wine, was probably related to the vines that were cultivated in the region and are most likely the reason for the toponymy of the city, “Klima” (vine).

Christianity spread on the island early in the Christian period. The catacombs were then built along with a marble baptistery that is partly saved until today.
Around the 6th or 7th c. AD the city was destroyed by unknown causes, perhaps due to the earthquakes or of hostile attacks and was abandoned.


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