The Aegean islands are characterized by unique natural wealth as their subsoil consists of a wide variety of useful minerals. The use of minerals by the residents of the islands has been known since the ancient times. Typical examples are the ancient obsidian quarries in Nychia of Milos where ancient quarrymen used to quarry the pieces of obsidian and manufacture tools, as evidenced by the piles of quarrying products that are still preserved nowadays.
The marbles of Paros, Naxos and Tinos have also been known since the antiquity. Especially the Parian marble or Parian stone is marble of high quality, white, homogeneous and with high transmittance of sunlight. Some of the masterpieces of ancient Greek sculpture and plastcs were created of Parian marble (e.g. Nike of Paionios, Hermes of Praxiteles, Aphrodite of Milos, etc.). In addition, the marble of Naxos, equivalent to Paros’s marble, was highly used in the buildings and the sculptures of the sacred sites in Delos and Delphi. In Sifnos there were always gold, iron, lead and silver ores, thanks to which the island flourished even more in the antiquity. The deposits of clay were abundant as well.
Kimolos is still an island which conceals important industrial minerals in its subsoil such as bentonite, pozzolan, perlite, kaolin, ferromanganese, barite and sulfur. Furthermore, in Kimolos there is a unique type of clay, the “Kimolian land” as it is called taking its name after the island, which has detergent and medicinal properties and t has been known since the prehistoric times.
In Milos, which is a volcanic island, obsidian rocks, kaolin, gypsum, sulfur, perlite, bentonite and manganese are found. In fact, the island’s economy was based on mining and not tourism, as in other Aegean islands. The quarries still employ many locals.
Naxos, apart from the marble which it is famous for, has significant deposits of emery as well. The deposits are located in its northeastern mountainous part. Serifos is famous in the European scientific circles for the variety of its mineral crystals such as garnet, andradite, fluorite, hematite, malachite and crystalline lead. The green quartz of Serifos (‘prasios’) found in Megalo Horio is very rare. Finally, in Kassos, Rhodes and Karpathos there are large deposits of gypsum.