Cyclades History

Cyclades history

Information about the History of Cyclades islands, in Greece but also information about the history of many islands of the group: The Cyclades islands are an island complex located between Attica and Crete and one of the oldest cultural sources not only in Greece but in the whole Europe. According to ancient Greek mythology, Cyclades were Oceanids (nymphs), daughters of Oceanus and Tethys, who were transformed into rocks by Poseidon when they provoked his rage. Cyclades were created by the geological changes that took place in the Mediterranean, million years ago forming the odd landscape that we can see today.

Due to their strategic position and historical presence the islands of Cyclades mark the dawn of Greek Culture. Cyclades is mentioned in the ancient writings of Herodotos, Thucydidis and Strabo and the islands were given that name because they formed a circle around the sacred island of Delos. The first inhabitants of Cyclades were Karees and Phoenicians. The Cyclades history is marked by the Early Bronze Age which covers the 3rd millennium and develops parallel to the Minoan Civilization of Crete island.

The first characteristics from the so called ProtoCycladic civilization appeared in the island of Kea (3200 BC) and develops in three phases in Milos island - Naxos island (3200-2800 BC) in Syros island (2800-2200 BC) and in Milos (2200-2000 BC). The Greek archaeologist Charis Tsontas was the first man who studied the Cycladic civilization in depth and excavated many ancient settlements in Syros, Paros, Antiparos, Sifnos, Amorfos and other smaller islands. With a plethora of findings such as the brilliant marble statuettes Cyclades played a major historical and cultural role during the middle Bronze Age. Some years later, the excavations reveal the historical island of Thera (actual Santorini island), one of the most important centers of Minoan civilization along with Knossos Palace and Phaestos Palace .

Marvelous monuments were founded during the presence of the Byzantine Empire, beautiful icons and frescoes and splendid Cycladic churches. Due to the strategic position in the Aegean Sea, the islands of Cyclades, in all their history, suffered from many piratic invasions. In the 12th century, the Cyclades were conquered by the Venetians (Marco Sanudo) and flourished greatly. The wider region of Cyclades has been a bridge for the development of trade and the spread of culture since antiquity. The history of Cyclades reveals countless treasures that either lie buried in the beautiful locations or they are exhibited in the museums of Cyclades.

Read also: Cyclades geography | Cyclades museums

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