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History of Ikaria Island



Ikaria has been inhabited since at least 7000 BC, when it was populated by the Neolithic pre-Hellenic people that Greeks called Pelasgians.

Around 750 BC, Greeks from Miletus colonized Ikaria, establishing a settlement in the area of present day Campos, which they called Oenoe for its wine.

Ikaria, in the 6th century BC, became part of Polycrates' sea empire, and, in the 5th century BC, the Ikarian cities of Oenoe and Thermae were members of the Athenian-dominated Delian League. In the 2nd century, the island was colonized by Samos. At this time, the Tauropolion, the temple of Artemis was built at Oenoe. Coins of the city represented Artemis and a bull. There was another, smaller temenos that was sacred to Artemis Tauropolos, at Nas, on the northwest coast of the island. Nas had been a sacred spot to the pre-Greek inhabitants of the Aegean and an important island port in antiquity, the last stop before testing the dangerous seas around Ikaria. It was an appropriate place for sailors to make sacrifices to Artemis Tauropolos, who, among other functions, was a patron of seafarers; here, the goddess was represented in an archaic wooden xoanon.

Fate of classical remnants

The temple stood in good repair until the middle of the 19th century when the marble was pillaged, for their local church, by the Kato Raches villagers. In 1939, it was excavated by the Greek archeologist Leon Politis. During the Axis occupation of Greece during World War II, many of the artifacts that were unearthed by Politis disappeared. Local custom states that there are still marble statues embedded in the sand off the coast.

Ottoman era

The Knights of St. John, who had their base in Rhodes, exerted some control over Ikaria until 1521, when the Ottoman Empire incorporated Ikaria into its realm. The Ikarians hanged the first Turkish tax collector but managed to escape punishment, as none would identify the guilty one and the Turks realistically
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