History

Siphnos had important gold and silver deposits. There is some evidence that these were worked in prehistory, especially in the area of Aghios Sostis (northwest coast), where there was a Mycenaean presence on the ridge above, at Aghios Nikitas. The main Mycenaean centre was on the acropolis of Aghios Andreas, which had been inhabited since the 3rd millennium BC: on the same site there are remains of Geometric and Classical constructions which were later built within the Mycenaean enceinte.
   It was in the Archaic period that the mining of precious metals brought the island preeminent wealth, as the quality of its silver coins and above all the rich treasury, built by the Siphnians at Delphi in 526 bc with a tithe on the prof its of the mining, amply attest. The lodes were not long in being exhausted, however, and the island’s fall from wealth was famous in Antiquity. Pausanias (Descrip. X, 11) implies tendentiously that the islanders’ deceit in reneging on the tithe promised to Apollo at Delphi angered the god into flooding their mines; but scientific evidence shows that the mines were worked out some time before they were flooded, and that their exhaustion may have been the cause of the drying up of the tithe to Apollo. The fame of the island’s wealth attracted envy: Herodotus (Hist. III, 57) recounts that a detachment of disaffected Samian soldiers landed on the island in c. 524 bc and extorted the hefty sum of a hundred talents from the citizens. The period of affluence was long enough, however, to permit the islanders to create fine marble fortifications for their acropolis, which are still visible at Kastro: Herodotus mentions an agora and prytaneion in marble, also. Siphnos participated in the battles of Salamis and Plataea against the Persians in 480 and 479 bc, and the island was assessed to pay a substantial tribute within the Delian League. In the 5th and 4th centuries alone over 40 fortified towers were built on the island (see box below). In 153 bc, the island was at tacked and devastated by forces from Crete.

   After the capture of Constantinople, the island was taken by Doge Dandolo’s nephew, Marco Sanudo, in 1207 and included in his seventeen islands of the Duchy of the Archipelago. It was recovered briefly by the renegade admiral Licario for Byzantium in 1279, but was then annexed in 1307 by Gianuli da Corogna, a Knight Hospitaller of St John from Corunna in Spain, as his name implies. Da Corogna left the Order of the Hopsitallers and governed the island as his personal domain, building a residence in the acropolis of the ancient city. In the 15th century the title passed to the Bolognese Gozzadini family who held the island, together with Kythnos, until 1617 when it finally fell to the Turks. In 1646 Siphnos gained important privileges from the Ottoman Sultan, Ibrahim, and it is thanks to this that so many churches on the island were rebuilt and restored in the 17th century. Siphnos was liberated from Turkish rule in April 1821 and joined the Greek State.

Siphnos or Siphnos Island is part of the Cyclades Island Group, Greece.

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