Journey in history

The findings of the excavations organised from time to time in Amorgos proved that it was one of the major centres of the Cycladic civilization of the 3rd millennium BC. The existence of fortified citadels, cemeteries and various figurines found, testify the cultural development of the island. Its geographical position made ​​it important on the pathway for the evolution of the elaboration of bronze and of the growth of navigation in the Aegean .

Amorgos, the easternmost island of the Cyclades was on the ancient roads leading from Ionia to the Greek mainland. Between the 10th and the 8th century BC, during the Geometric period, Ionian settlers arrived on the island of Naxos and founded Arkesini. In the 7th century BC colonists from Miletus founded Aegiali on the northwest coast. These two city-states, along with Minoa, formed the Commonwealth of Tripoli and were of great importance to the life of the island throughout the course of the historical times. There were temples dedicated to Athena Polias, to Dionysus Kissokomos, to the Delian and Pythian Apollo, Apollo Apotropaeus, Ourania Aphrodite etc. Major celebrations in antiquity were Heraea Dionysian and the Ekatomvaia.

In historical times Amorgos participated in the Persian Wars and became a member of the Delian League paying tax of one talent. In ancient times it had a reputation because of Simonides of Amorgos iambic poet who lived there probably during the second half of the 7th century BC. Amorgos was known in antiquity for the “Amorgian robes” that were popular with the women of Athens and Corinth. As Aristophanes says, they were so transparent that Lysistrata advised women to wear them to cause the love of men. Their red colour was called “Amorginon” after the lichen that grows abundant on the island.

It was conquered by the Macedonians in 337 BC and in 322 BC; the naval battle of Amorgos between the Macedonians and the generals of Athens, which resulted in the defeat of the latter, is mentioned. During the Rule of Rome Amorgos was part of the province of Asia and was a place of exile. The sources say that the proconsul of Spain Gaius Vibius Serena was exiled there. During the Byzantine period administratively it was part of the Province of the Islands the capital of which was Rhodes. Its Church, along with those of Paros and Sifnos, was part of the same diocese, and in 1083 it was united with the diocese of Paronaxia. Following, it became part of the Theme of the Aegean Sea. From descriptions of the Arab geographer Edrisi in 1153, we have information that it had much population. According to tradition, in 1088, by imperial bull of Alexios Komnenos, the famous monastery of The Virgin Mary Hozoviotissa was founded. The monastery with its unique architecture is attached to a vertical rock of Mount Prophet Elias on the east side of Amorgos.

In 1207, during the rule of Franks, the island was occupied by Andrew and Jeremiah Gizi. Later it came to the hands of the Duke of Naxos Marco I Sanudo. Then it was the turn of the emperor of Nicaea, John Vatatzes to become the lord of the island. In 1269, after a treaty, it was ceded again to Jeremiah Gizi. He brought new settlers (many islanders had fled to Naxos), and he also rebuilt the castle of Chora. In 1309, the dominance of the Gizis ended with the death of Zannaki I Gizi, and the island came to the hands of the Duke of Naxos William I Sanudo, the crest of whom is built in the wall of the monastery of Hozoviotissa. The island remained in the hands of the Sanoudo until 1352 when it was divided between Domenico and Marco Schiavi who were lords of Ios, and Marco Grimani. Soon, however, Marco Sanudo ceded the share of Schiavi to the House of Gizi.

The power of Gizi came to an end, when the Venetian admiral Domenico Micheli expelled Zannaki IIIGkizi because he was accused to have cooperated with the Venetians in Crete against the Republic of Venice. A period of conflict between Venetians and Nicholas Sanudo followed, until 1370, when they made ​​a compromise. Half of Amorgos was under the authority of the lord of Astypalaia, John Quirini, and the other half belonged to the Grimani family. They gave their part to the Quirini after a while. In 1537 Amorgos was captured by Barbarossa and this ended the power of the Quirini. During those times the Amorgians suffered a lot from pirate raids of Turks and Catalans. Many left the island and went as refugees to Crete.

The Ottomans granted the Amorgians economic and political privileges so that, during this time, they remain rather undisturbed. In the Russian -Turkish war Amorgos was captured by the Russians, who in 1774 gave it again back to the Turks. With its fleet Amorgos participated in the Revolution of 1821 and during the era of Kapodistrias there was a mutual learning school here. During the dictatorship of Metaxas political exiles were sent to Amorgos.