You are here: Home ￫ click here to EXPLORE Skyros ￫ history
Achilles sojourned on the island: disguised as a girl, he was sent by his mother Thetis to the court of Lycomedes, king of Skyros, to prevent his going to the Trojan War. Her precaution was in vain: by a subtle ploy, Odysseus uncovered the disguise and lured the hero to Troy, where he was eventually killed before the city fell. Neoptolemos, or Pyrrhos (‘red-head’), son of Achilles and Deidameia, daughter of Lycomedes, grew up in Skyros, and was also taken to the Trojan War by Odysseus after his father’s death (So phocles, Philoctetes, 239). It was in Skyros that Lycomedes treacherously killed Theseus, king of Athens, who had sought asylum with him, by pushing him ‘over a high cliff ’ (Plutarch, Theseus, 35).
There are important Neolithic and Bronze Age sites on Skyros, with clear trading links to the Northern Aegean and the Troad. The most important and best understood is Palamari, which was a flourishing centre in the late 3rd millennium bc. Apart from a (probably fortuitous) lacuna of evidence for settlement between 1650 and 1300 bc—the time of the heroes, Theseus and Achilles—there appears to have been significant habitation uninterruptedly through to the Geometric period, and into Archaic and Classical times. In 476/5 bc Cimon of Athens came to Skyros, conquered the island, enslaved the inhabitants and planted Athenian settlers (Thucydides I, 98). An augury led him to where the bones of Theseus were buried; he had them disinterred, transported them to Athens and there buried them in state in a Heroon near to the Acropolis—thought by some to be what we call the Theseion today. Skyros thereafter remained an Athenian clerurchy, with only brief interruptions—when it was ceded to Sparta between 404 and 394 bc, at the end of the Peloponnesian War, and again when it was held by the Macedonians between 322 and 197 bc. It was captured by the Roman fleet in 197 bc, but was only finally taken for Rome by Sulla in 86 bc.
Invading Goths pillaged the island in 276 ad, and the Saracen Arabs during the 9th century. In the 4th century, Skyros was promoted to a bishopric; in 895 the Episkopi church was built, and in 960 the church of St George founded on the Kastro. After the Fourth Crusade of 1204, Skyros came under Frankish domination, but was returned to Greek Byzantine control in 1276. Less than a century later, in 1354, it was taken by Giovanni Sanudo V, Duke of Naxos , and a systematic repair of the citadel’s walls was undertaken by the new overlords. After the capture of Constantinople it was ceded in 1453 by Sultan Me hmet II to the Venetians, who held it for 85 years. In 1538, the Turkish admiral, Khaireddin Barbarossa, captured the island and returned it to a subsequent three centuries of Turkish dominance, with only a brief interlude between 1770 and 1774 during the Russo-Turkish War, when the island was temporarily occupied by Russian forces. Skyros participated in the Greek Independence uprising in 1821 and became part of the new Greek State, together with the other Sporades islands, in 1830.
Skyros Island is part of the Sporades Island Group, Greece.