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The Roman epoch

Around the middle of the second century BC the different areas of Greece (Macedonia, the rest of the Greek mainland, the Aegean islands and finally Asia Minor) were successively subdued by the Romans and incorporated into the Roman Empire. Greece had now lost its independence, but its culture lived on in the Roman Empire and influenced it considerably.

Not much is known about the fate of the island of Naxos during the Roman epoch. We know that it belonged to the province of Asia and was at least temporarily under the rule of the island of Rhodes. From the year 42 BC on the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire were taken over by the general Marcus Antonius, who had himself worshipped as “New Dionysos”. On Naxos a statue was found, on the pedestral of which the original name was extinguished and replaced by “Antonius”. We also know that Naxos served in Roman times as an exile for unpopular politicians.

statue of Marcus Antonius, Archaeological Museum of Naxos

female statues of the Roman epoch

A number of excavations in the area of the Chóra have uncovered both houses and tombs of the Roman period. The artifacts found there bear witness to the fact that a flourishing city existed on Naxos. Although the island no longer played a significant political or cultural role, it was still the centre of the Cyclades with a large main settlement.

pottery from the Roman epoch

Particularly impressive among the artifacts of the Roman epoch are the numerous small glass vessels displayed in the Archaeological Museum.

On the roof terrace of the museum you can see a mosaic from a 3rd century AD Roman house. It depicts peacocks among vines, deer (one of which is apparently hunted by a dog) and in the middle a nereid riding a bull with a dolphin and a fish.

Schon in der frühchristlichen Zeit gelangte schließlich das Christentum auf die Insel, die naxiotischen Tempel wurden in Kirchen umgewandelt, und ab dem 4. Jhd. wurden neue Kirchen errichtet. Gegen Ende des 4. Jahrhunderts wurde das Byzantinische Reich gegründet (Ostrom), und eine neue Epoche begann im östlichen Mittelmeergebiet.

continue: Naxos in the Byzantine era

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