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History of Ikaria Island



determined that there was neither profit nor honour in punishing all.

The Turks imposed a very loose administration, not sending any officials to Ikaria for several centuries. The best account we have of the island during these years is from archbishop J. Georgirenes who in 1677 described the island with 1,000 hardy, long-lived inhabitants, who were the poorest people in the Aegean. Without a port, the island depended for its very limited intercourse with the outside world on small craft that were drawn up on the beaches, for which Icarian boat-builders had a high reputation, building boats from the abundant fir forests; they sold boats and lumber for coin and grain at Chios. The inshore waters, Georgirenes asserted, provided the best cockles in the Archipelago. Goats and sheep roamed virtually untended in the rocky landscape. Cheeses were made for consumption in each household. Ikaria in the 17th century was unusual in the Archipelago in not providing any wine for export; rather than keeping the wine made for local consumption in barrels, they continued to store it in the age-old fashion, in terracotta pithoi sunk to their rims in earth.

Apart from three small towns, none of which exceeded 100 houses, and numerous village settlements, each house had a walled orchard and a garden plot. Unlike the closely built towns of Samos, the hardy inhabitants lived separately in fortified unfurnished farmsteads. They slept without bedding and wrapped themselves in their clothing. They often lived to great ages. They admitted no strangers, and strictly married among themselves.

The ruins of the lighthouse on the promontory that faces Samos, called the "Tower of Icarus", were strictly off limits to the islanders, as tradition asserted that there was treasure to be found in them.

In 1827, during the Greek War of Independence, Icaria broke away from the Ottoman Empire, but was not included in the narrow territory of the original independent Greece and