The history of the Cyclades and of Naxos in particular is exceptionally interesting. The first humans reached the Cyclades already in the Palaeolithic Age, although a permanent settlement of the island can only be proven for the Neolithic Age. The step to the Bronze Age was made very early, at least several centuries earlier than in the other areas of Europe. It is no exaggeration to say that the Cyclades were one of the cradles of the European civilization. Naxos, the largest and most fertile island of the Cyclades, always played an important role in the historical development as the cultural centre of the region.

Die Akropolis von Panormos Der antike Friedhof bei Tsikalario der Kouros von Apollonas Demeter-Tempel der Turm von Chimarrou die byzantinische Kirche Ágios Geórgios Diasorítis der venezianische Wehrturm in Agiá Argokili
The various sights of Naxos make the history of the island come to life.

Many different factors determine and influence the historical development of a region. Important are for example geographical factors like the location, the landscape and the resources. But other factors are also crucial, for example the contact with neighbouring peoples: They often set the different developments into motion.

The historical course of Naxos was influenced in particular by its location in the middle of the Aegean Sea. First of all the Cyclades could only be settled by a seafaring people. The necessity of seafaring required and promoted not only the craftsmanship (for building the ships), but also skills and understanding in areas such as navigation, meteorology and astronomy. There is no doubt that maritime navigation played a decisive role in the emergence and development of our sciences.

The island’s wealth in natural resources was also important for its development. Here the remarkable fertility of the island has to be mentioned, which is mainly due to the comparatively high rainfall and the numerous springs and rivers, and which meant that the island could support and feed a considerable population. The presence of excellent marble and emery are also of particular importance: They enabled the early development of marble processing on the island, and thus of sculpture and architecture. The unique emery was an important export good until modern times.

From the very beginning, the people who settled in the Cyclades traded in raw materials such as obsidian from Milos, the Naxian emery, marble and other natural resources. For the Cycladic people, this trade meant regular contact with their closer and more distant neighbors. Accordingly, they were particularly open to outside influences and had close and stimulating connections with the rest of the Aegean, but also with the Middle East (Palestine, Syria, Anatolia) and Egypt. However, in contrast to many other Greek cities, the economy of the island of Naxos was never predominantly trade-oriented – the vast majority of its products remained on the island and imports were also of secondary importance. Still due its location in the middle of the Aegean Sea the island played an important role as a stop over on the shipping routes from east to west or north to south and vice versa as a point of supply and refuge.

On the other hand, living on an island always brings with it also a certain protective isolation: The Cyclades existed always only on the edge of the great empires. That meant that here new developments were not suppressed by the rigid conservatism that so often characterises a great empire. It is characteristic that the island of Naxos always played a greater role in the early periods of the epochs (Early Bronze Age, Archaic Period of Antiquity, Early Christianity), which is precisely due to this fact: Many new developments reached the island early via shipping and trade and were quickly adopted and developed. In the later times with the higher development of the respective culture, however, the small islands were outrun and overshadowed by their big neighbours who were then taking over the leading role (Crete, Mycenae, Athens,…).

A. Prehistory

  1. Stone Age
  2. Bronze Age: 3,300 to 1,100 B.C.

B. Antiquity

  1. Geometric Epoch: 1,100 to 700 B.C.
  2. Archaic Epoch: 700 to 500 B.C.
  3. Classical Epoch: 500 to 340 B.C.
  4. Hellenistic Epoch: 340 to 150 B.C.
  5. Roman Epoch: 150 B.C. to 300 A.D.

C. Middle Ages

  1. Byzantium: 300 to 1207 A.D.
  2. Venetian Epoch: 1207 to 1566 A.D.

D. Modern times

  1. Turkish Epoch: 1566 to 1827 A.D.
  2. after the Independence: from 1827 A.D.
    • Argokili – prophecies, icons and a pilgrimage church
    • The church Agios Artemios near Kinidaros

see also:

  • Sights and Monuments