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Ios: History

During the 3rd millennium B.C. Ios was one of the islands where the Cycladic culture thrived. This is testified by the archaeological excavations that have taken place in the past few years on Ios. The island had a particular growth at this period, because  its location was a vital crossroad of marine routes to Crete and southern Asia.Life is continued on Ios at the 2nd millennium (middle to late copper era), and then Ios shares the same fate with the remaining islands of the Cyclades, which cease having autonomy and are under the influence of initially the Minoans and later the Mycenaeans. The Minoan influence began as cultural and developed as political. Everything changes with the explosion of the volcano of Thira, around 1650 B.C., where the urban centre of Akrotiri is destroyed. Thus, the Mycenaeans this time, took advantage from the destruction and 50 years later dominate the Cyclades (Ios included). The passage from the Prehistoric to Historical years remains dark for Ios, because no elements from this period have been found by the archaeologists.

Around 1100 B.C., Dorians and Iones reached the island.  The island received its name from the Iones. Afterwards, Ios became a member of the Athenian Alliance and in the beginning of the 13th century A.D. it was conquered by the Venetians, after it had passed from the hands of the Macedonians, the Ptolemy’s and the Romans. An important period for the island was around 1397 A.D. when the Governor of the island Markos Krispos, fortified Hora with high walls, ruins of which are still seen today, in order to protect residents from the wild pirate raids. In 1537 finally, Ios falls in the hands of the Turks and a period of heavy taxation begins for the island. The island, continued suffering from pirate attacks. The Turkish conquerors called the island “Small Malta” because of the absolute safety that its natural harbour offered.

Despite Turkish occupation, the Cycladic islands enjoyed a relative autonomy, particularly around 1774 special privileges, with regard to shipping and trade, were granted to the island with the treaty of Kioutsouk Kainartzi. Everything ended when the Greek Revolution began in 1821. In this last period, Spiridon Valetas (1718-1843), a son of Ios, was distinguished in the war and became the first Minister of Education of the new Nation, and a great benefactor of the island.

A separate distinction must be made to the greatest epic poet of all time, “Homer”, who composed the Iliad and the Odyssey on the 8th century B.C. His grave lies in the region of Plakotos, where the poet left his last breath. In honour of Homer, each year the cultural festival “the OMIREIA” is organised, with artistic and cultural events.
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