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Aphrodite of Milos  

History of Milos

(8th millennium BC – today)

The islands’ history is long and tumultuous. Shipping and trade activities originate in Milos since the Mesolithic period (around 8000 BC), due to the obsidian, the mineral long coveted for the manufacture of tools and weapons.

The city of Phylakopi developed during the Minoan period as a trade centre of the obsidian, which was extracted at the quarries in Demenagaki and Nychia.
At the 3rd mil and the first half of the 2nd mil BC, Phylakopi was in direct relations with Crete and accepted influences from the Minoan culture. Later she adopted the Mycenaean model.

The Ancient City of Phylakopi

The Ancient City of Phylakopi

The city was fortified with cyclopean walls, and was built according to architectural plans with parallel streets, two-storey houses, and mansion of the lord, sanctuary, and cemetery. Priceless works of art have been created during that period.
This city was abandoned for unknown causes. 

Dorians from Lacedaemona (Sparta) settled the island in the beginning of the historical period (1st mil B.C.) and were quickly absorbed by the old inhabitants. A new city was built in a fortified place, near the entry of the present harbour and was named Klima.

Klima reached a big acme during the archaic (7th-6th c. AD) and the classical (5th-4th c. AD) periods. It was surrounded with strong walls that reached downhill to the sea and was adorned with monumental buildings and exquisite works of art, an indication of great prosperity. It cut silver coins and developed its own alphabet. 
During the Peloponnesian war the Athenians sought to occupy Milos because of its strategic importance and its alliance to the Spartans.

After a long dispute, reported in detail by Thucydides, which ended with the rejection of the Athenian demands, a long siege of the city of Klima followed in 415 BC. The Melians were forced to subjugate. 
The Athenians conquered the city; they slaughtered the male population, sold women and children as slaves and established a “Klirouchia” of 500 colonists.

After the defeat of the Athenians at Aegos Potamoi, Lysandros expelled the Athenian “Klirouchia” and the surviving Melians returned to the island.

Aphrodite, Museum of Louvre

At the Hellenistic period (323-146 BC) new blossoming follows. Aphrodite (Venus de Milo), the statue that made Milos renowned to the end of the world, was created at that time. Aphrodite is exhibited today at the Museum of Louvre.
The Romans conquered and colonized the island allowing absolute freedom, a fact that contributed to a fast rise on the standards of living, expanded activities and production.

They greatly exploited the mining wealth, built and beautified and they organised shipping and trade in close collaboration with the local population.

Christianity spread fast on the island. The catacombs were built on the 2nd c. AD, and were kept in use until the 5th c. They are considered the most important catacombs in the world after those of Rome.

At the Byzantine period, Milos subdued to the subject of the Aegean. After the occupation of Constantinople, in 1204 by the Crusaders, the Cyclades were dominated by the Venetian Sanoudoi and Krispoi, who implanted the western feudal system, brought in Catholicism and established their capital on the island of Naxos.
Following the Turkish occupation of Greece, Milos was initially tax tributary to the Sultan, until the end of the 16th c. After the fall of the Franc Dukes, Mourat the 3rd proclaimed “Achtnames” (a preferential arrangement involving self-government by local dignitaries, relative freedom, and tax delivery to Kapoudan Pasha once a year). The Turks never settled in the island.

Klima, The area of the old town

The centre of the island since the 16th c. was Chora that reached its big acme on the 17th c. developing agriculture, animal farming, trade, shipping and mineral mining. Various European countries found consulates in Milos at the beginning of the 16th c. because of the increasing commercial activity on the Eastern Mediterranean. Naval forces are later reinforced by the “koursaroi”  (buccaneers) that work for a European country. During the Venetian-Turkish war Milos became a naval base of foreign fleet and the trade flourished once again.
Milos participated on the Greek revolution of 1821 primarily with economic support. Since the end of the revolution it constitutes an official part of the Greek state.

At the A’ world war it became a naval base of the English-French allies from 1915 until 1918.

On May 1941 the Germans occupied Milos. The population suffered from hunger, human casualties, destructions and numerous minefields beset in land and sea until May 1945. 
The exploitation of the mining wealth, which began right after the end of the A’ World War, has been increasing on the last decades of the 20th c. and together with tourism they now constitute the two main financial resources of the island.


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