1. Early ancient years - Name origin
The first of the archaelogical excavations on the hill of Skarkos prove that the island has been inhabited since the early Cycladic period. Evidence of this lies in the well preserved walls of buildings and the various utensils, testimonies of a flourishing, important community. The remnants of the walls on the West and North entrances to Chora lead us to the conclusion that the castle's hill has been inhabited since the archaic period. There are elements that bear witness to the presence of Careans, Pelasgians, Achaeans and Phoenicians, who gave the island the name "Phoenicia". The Ionians came and settled the island in 1050 B.C. A version about the origin of the island's name claims that it derives from the name of the Ionians. However, this does not seem to be valid linguistically: were this the case, the name would be "Ionia" or "Ionis". According to another version, the name derives from the Phoenician word "Ion", meaning "a heap of stones". This version does not seem valid either, as we know that the Phoenicians were settled in places that were much rockier than Ios. Finally, according to the prevailing version, Ios took its name from the violets (in Greek: "ion") that grace its countryside each spring.
The island has been linked to the death of the poet Homer, creating a myth which, in the course of centuries, turned into a tradition. Inscriptions and coins, but mainly texts of the ancient historians Stravon, Pausanias, and Herodotus, are proof of the fact that the great poet died and was buried on Ios, birthplace of his mother Klymeni. Travellers in Greece in the 17th - 19th century never omit mentioning the evident delight of the island's inhabitants in showing the visitors Homer's tomb in the area of Plakoto.
3. Classical period
During the classical period, Ios joined its forces with the Athenian League to avoid occupation by the Persians. In doing so, they established a democracy. The inscriptions from that era show that the inhabitants spoke the Ionian dialect and worshipped the ancestral Athenian god Pithius Apollo, as well as the protector of the Ionians, Fytalmius Poseidon.
4. Hellenistic - Roman - Byzantine periods
In 338 B.C., after the battle of Cheroneia, Ios came under the rule of Macedonia. In 315 B.C., it recovered its independence, becoming an equal member of the "Islanders' Community". Thereafter, Ios entered into an alliance with Ptolemy Philadelphus (280 B.C.) and the Rhodians (220 B.C.), who had become an important naval power in the Aegean, against the Macedonians. In the 2nd century B.C., the Romans occupied Ios and included it in their "provincia insularum", using it, like the island of Giaros, as a place of exile. During the Byzantine period, the Christians built churches on the foundations of pagan temples. Their ancient columns and marble were used as building material. Some of the pagan inscriptions were even "recycled" to further glory of the new religion. Until Ios came under Frankish rule, it suffered a lot from pirate raids, as its natural harbour was a sheltered anchorage for all ships. At that time, whenever the islanders saw a foreign ship in the port, they would barricade themselves in the castle, sending the oldest women of the island to the port. If they came back, everything would be all right. If not, those inside the fortress would have to prepare for battle.
5. Venetian period
In 1204, Ios was occupied by the Crusaders, and up to the 15th century, as part of the Duchy of Naxos, it was ruled by the noble family of Crispi. The Crispi rebuilt the castle on the ruins of the old one to protect the island from pirates.
In 1537, the Turkish pirate Hairedin Barbarossa occupied the Duchies of Naxos and Ios. During the following years, Ios was occupied by the Turks and devastated by the pirates, who continued to plague the entire Agean Sea region. Yet, the island kept its Greek indentity. In 1770, in order to reclaim their island, the people sided with the Russians, who were at war against the Turks. In 1821, Ios contributed to te Greek War of Independence against the Turks with a war-fleet of 24 ships, one of which was built on the island. Despite the war, Ios did not neglect the education of its children: a hundred of them attended the school. The final liberation came with the incorporation of Ios in the modern Greek State, which was founded by the signature of the protocol of London on the 10th of March 1829.
This text is cited Feb 2003 from the University of Patras' XENIOS DIAS website URL below.
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