Karpathos (Dodecanese) 81 Karpathos - Κάρπαθος

Κάρπαθος - Karpathos, island, the modern Karpathos, Dodecanese Greece
Hits: 81
Works: 32
Latitude: 35.583300
Longitude: 27.133300
Confidence: Low

Greek name: Κάρπαθος
Place ID: 356271IKar
Time period:
Region: Dodecanese
Country: Greece
Department: Karpathos
Mod: Karpathos

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Search for inscriptions mentioning Karpathos (Καρπαθ...) in the PHI Epigraphy database.

Modern Description: Karpathos has the wildest landscape and coastal waters of the Dodecanese. For this it was famous also in Antiquity: Horace cites with awe the rough expanses of the ‘Carpathium mare' two times in his Odes (I. 35 ‘To Fortuna', & IV. 5). With a marginally larger area than Cos, Karpathos is the biggest island of the Dodecanese after Rhodes. Its northern half is a steep, sculpted ridge of mountains that drop abruptly to the sea, while the southern tip of the island is an open landscape of soft, eroded sandstone. Between the two lies the moderately fertile area of springs and low hills where the majority of the population is concentrated.
Even though Homer calls it ‘Krapathos' , the island was always known as Karpathos in Antiquity. The mediaeval name of Scarpanto was revived by the Italians at the beginning of the last century and is still sometimes used: the Turks called it Kerpe. Evidence of a Neolithic presence on Karpathos as early as the beginning of the 4th millennium BC has been found on the acropolis headland at Pigadia, and in 1886 the British Museum was presented with a Neolithic limestone figure found there. A seasonal rather than settled presence in this period is attested at over a dozen other points on both Karpathos and Saria. By the 2nd millennium BC, the island begins to show the overt influence and presence of Cretan, Minoan culture. Almost a hundred Bronze Age vases have been recovered from tombs, reinforcing the evidence for occupation during this period. Minoan and Mycenaean remains have been found at many sites, both in the Pigadia area and at other points around the island; these include a significant number of agricultural installations in the more fertile, south of the island. Around 1000 BC, colonisation by Dorian settlers from Argos in the Peloponnese began.
From 477 BC the communities of the island appear in Athenian tribute lists of the Delian League. It is at this point that some confusion arises. The lists mention the communities of Arkaseia and Brykous, whose sites are both known to us, and of Saros on the island of Saria to the north; but they also mention ‘Karpathians' and ‘Eteokarpathians' (i.e. ‘original' Karpathians). We know that the modern capital of Pigadia occupies the site of the ancient port called Potidaion, which is referred to in inscriptions but curiously not mentioned in the tribute lists. Although it was probably the most important centre on the island, it may only have been a dependency or ‘outport' of the deme of Karpathos – having a relationship in some ways similar to that of Piraeus to Athens. This still leaves the site of Karpathos, the ancient capital, unidentified – though some have suggested that it was in the area of Aperi and that the city was the result of a ‘synoecism' of communities. Strabo later adds fuel to the confusion by mentioning four cities (Geog. X, 5.17): three of which are familiar – Karpathos, Arkaseia, Brykous – plus one other, about which nothing is known: Nisyros. This could possibly refer to an older centre which was defunct by the Classical period; but there is also a disputed suggestion that Nisyros was on the island of Saria. This aside, we still have the ‘Eteokarpathians' to account for. They were, as their name implies, a community of aboriginal inhabitants who it is thought originally occupied the centre of the island in the region of the modern villages of Othos, Volada and Pini, where they had a sanctuary of Apollo; they are not heard of after the 5th century BC, and may have lost their independent identity by inter-marriage and mixing with the settlers, rather as the Etruscans did under Roman domination. In the 4th century BC the island was incorporated into the Rhodian state, and in 42 AD was annexed by Rome.
In the Early Byzantine period the island was under the archdiocese of Rhodes. In 680 AD the Bishop of Karpathos participated in the Sixth Oecumenical Council of Constantinople, in spite of the fact that the period of the 7th –10th centuries saw the island consistently raided by Arab pirates, some of whom appear to have established bases on Karpathos and Saria. In the last decade of the 11th century the Byzantine fleet used the island as a supply base for its campaign to suppress uprisings on Crete. The Byzantine Emperor Andronicus II Palaeologus gave the island in fief to the Genoese adventurers and brothers, Andrea and Lodovico Moresco. In 1306 it was acquired by the Cornaro family of Venice. The Knights of St John of Rhodes took over the island in 1315, but held it for only two years before returning it to Andrea Cornaro, under a threat from Venice which amounted to an act of financial extortion. Cristoforo Buondelmonti visited the island in c. 1415 and observed (with displeasure) how the inhabitants were employed in the production of a ‘foul-smelling', resinous pitch. The Cornaro dynasty finally surrendered Karpathos to the Turks in 1538.
In 1823 the island was momentarily liberated during the War of Greek Independence and joined to fledgling Greek State, before being returned again to Turkey in 1830. Five years later, Sultan Mahmut II allowed Karpathos beneficial financial privileges. In 1892 the Turkish Governor made Pigadia the capital of the island. Karpathos finally joined the Greek State, together with the other Dodecanese Islands, in May 1948. Links with, and financial support from, Karpathian emigrés in Australia and the USA are particularly strong: in 1966 a large convention of the ‘diaspora' was held to plan the economic future of the island.
Wikidata ID: Q65082020

Info: McGilchrist's Greek Islands

(From McGilchrist’s Greek Islands, © Nigel McGilchrist 2010, excerpted with his gracious permission. Click for the books)


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