Information about the place SIFNOS (Island) KYKLADES - GTP - Greek Travel Pages

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The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites


  Cycladic graves, figurines, and pottery have been found in various parts of the island, and there is a fortified acropolis site at Haghios Andreas. The town of Siphnos lay in the center of the E coast at modern Kastro; its acropolis and slopes have been excavated only partially as the site has been continuously inhabited from before 800 B.C. Among the discoveries were part of a probable circuit wall from that date, Geometric houses, and two 7th c. votive deposits containing pottery, figurines, and objects of ivory, bone, and bronze. Further walls and other signs of habitation dated from archaic Greek to Roman Imperial times. (There are also considerable mediaeval architectural remains.)
  Herodotos calls Siphnos the richest of the islands ca. 525 B.C., mentioning a Parian marble prytaneion and agora (no traces have been found), and the treasury at Delphi (q.v.), built from a tithe on the gold and silver mines. Siphnians fought for Greece at Salamis, paid 3 talents a year to the Delian League, joined the Second Athenian Confederacy, and resisted Macedon, at least in the 330s. Some 40 so-called Hellenic towers are recorded. As the mines ceased to produce (those at Haghios Sostis were perhaps inundated), the island declined. Reasonably rich glass and other finds in the Roman cemetery indicate revival under the Early Empire. Various sarcophagi are reported. The island was (and is) known for its pottery; the ancient potter's Siphnian stone was probably a steatite, not the lead-slag favored by the modern workmen.

M. B. Wallace, ed.
This text is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites, Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Nov 2002 from Perseus Project URL below, which contains bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.

Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)


  Siphnos or Siphnus (Siphnos: Eth. Siphnios: Siphno Gr., Siphsanto Ital.), an island in the Aegaean sea, one of the Cyclades, lying SE. of Seriphos, and NE. of Melos. Pliny (iv. 12. s. 22. § 66) describes it as 28 miles in circuit, but it is considerably larger. The same writer says that the island was originally called Merope and Acts; its ancient name of Merope is also mentioned by Stephanus B. (s. v.). Siphnos was colonised by Ionians from Athens (Herod. viii. 48), whence it was said to have derived its name from Siphnos, the son of Sunius. (Steph. B. s. v.) In consequence of their gold and silver mines, of which remains are still seen, the Siphnians attained great prosperity, and were regarded, in the time of Polycrates (B.C. 520), as the wealthiest of all the islanders. Their treasury at Delphi, in which they deposited the tenth of the produce of their mines (Paus. x. 11. § 2), was equal in wealth to the treasuries of the most opulent states; and their public buildings were decorated with Parian marble. Their riches, however, exposed them to pillage; and a party of Samian exiles, in the time of Polycrates, invaded the island, and levied a contribution of 100 talents. (Herod. iii. 57, 58.) The Siphnians were among the few islanders in the Aegaean who refused tribute to Xerxes, and they fought with a single ship on the side of the Greeks at Salamis. (Herod. viii. 46, 48.) Under the Athenian supremacy the Siphnians paid an annual tribute of 3600 drachmae. (Franz, Elem. Epigr. Gr. n. 52.) Their mines were afterwards less productive; and Pausanias (l. c.) relates that in consequence of the Siphnians neglecting to send the tenth of their treasure to Delphi, the gods destroyed their mines by an inundation of the sea. In the time of Strabo the Siphnians had become so poor that Siphnion astragalon became a proverbial expression. (Strab. x. p. 448; comp. Eustath. ad Dionys. Per. 525; Hesych. s. v. Siphnios arrhabon.) The moral character of the Siphnians stood low; and hence to act like a Siphnian (Siphniazein) was used as a term of reproach. (Steph. B.; Suid.; Hesych.) The Siphnians were celebrated in antiquity, as they are in the present day, for their skill in pottery. Pliny (xxxvi. 22. § 159, Sillig) mentions a particular kind of stone, of which drinking cups were made. This, according to Fiedler, was a species of talc. and is probably intended by Stephanus B. when he speaks of Siphnion poterion.
  Siphnos possessed a city of the same name (Ptol. iii. 15. § 31), and also two other towns, Apollonia and Minoa, mentioned only by Stephanus B. The ancient city occupied the same site as the modern town, called Kastron or Seraglio, which lies upon the eastern side of the island. There are some remains of the ancient walls; and fragments of marble are found, with which, as we have already seen, the public buildings in antiquity were decorated. A range of mountains, about 3000 feet in height, runs across Siphnos from SE. to NW.; and on the high ground between this mountain and the eastern side of the island, about 1000 feet above the sea, lie five neat villages, of which Stavri is the principal. These villages contain from 4000 to 5000 inhabitants; and the town of Kastron about another 1000. The climate is healthy, and many of the inhabitants live to a great age. The island is well cultivated, but does not produce sufficient food for its population, and accordingly many Siphnians are obliged to emigrate, and are found in considerable numbers in Athens, Smyrna, and Constantinople. (Tournefort, Voyage, &c. vol. i. p. 134, seq. transl.; Fiedler, Reise, vol. ii. p. 125, seq.; Ross, Reise auf den Griech. Inseln, vol. i. p. 138, seq.)

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited September 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities


  An island in the Aegaean Sea, forming one of the Cyclades, southeast of Seriphus. It is of an oblong form, and about forty miles in circumference. Its original name was Merope, and it was colonized by Ionians from Athens. In consequence of their gold and silver mines, of which the remains are still visible, the Siphnians attained great prosperity, and were regarded in the time of Herodotus as the wealthiest of the islanders. Siphnus was one of the few islands which refused tribute to Xerxes; and one of its ships fought on the side of the Greeks at Salamis. The moral character of the Siphnians stood low, and hence to act like a Siphnian (Siphniazein) became a term of reproach.

This text is cited Sep 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

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