According to legend (Apollonius of Rhodes , Argonautica I. 622 ff.), Hypsipyle saved her father, Thoas, son of Dionysos and Ariadne, from the massacre of all the males on the island of Lemnos perpetrated by the Lemnian women in revenge for the supposed unfaithfulness of their menfolk, by putting him in a wooden chest and throwing him into the sea. The chest came ashore at Sikinos which at that time bore the name ‘Oenoe’. Thoas sired by the Nymph Neida a child named ‘Sikinos’, in honour of whom the is land’s name was changed. Elements of the legend hint at a possible Mycenaean settlement of the island. The island was later colonised by mainland Dorians, but received much Ionian influence from its neighbours.
The first historical mention of Sikinos is a comment reportedly made by Solon that he would ‘rather be someone from Sikinos than fail in his duty to Athens’—implying that to have the misfortune of coming from Sikinos was something akin to living in utter oblivion. In 425 bc the island was assessed at a yearly tribute of 1,000 drachmas in the lists of the Athenian League—the lowest assessment of any island; in 378 bc it joined the Second Athenian Alliance. Coins minted for Sikinos in the 3rd century bc display the head of Dionysos or bunches of grapes, reflecting the age-old association of the island with viticulture.
Because of a lack of references in literature and epigraphy to the island, it has always been assumed that it simply functioned as a place of political exile in Roman times, but the grandeur of edifices such as the mausoleum at Episkopi suggest a more complex reality for the island in the Imperial period.
Along with its neigbours, Sikinos became part of the Latin Duchy of Naxos in 1207 under Marco Sanudo, but was briefly re-taken for Byzantium by the Veronese admiral Licario in 1276. It eventually came under Ottoman control in 1566. The church and Roman ruin at Episkopi was first observed and admired by the Dutchman, Count Pasch van Krienen in 1771; it was documented by the Ger man scholar, Ludwig Ross, in 1837; and visited by James Theodore Bent in 1884. In 1828, Sikinos was incorporated into the Greek State. The island was occupied by Italian forces from 1941–43 during the Second World War. Electricity was first brought to the island only in 1974.
Sikinos Island is part of the Cyclades Island Group, Greece.