Melos (Cyclades) 126 Klima - Μήλος

Μῆλος - Melos, island polis with Archaic to Late Antique remains, the modern Klima on Melos, Cyclades
Hits: 126
Works: 61
Latitude: 36.738900
Longitude: 24.419900
Confidence: High

Greek name: Μῆλος
Place ID: 367244PMel
Time period: ACHRL
Region: Cyclades
Country: Greece
Department: Milos
Mod: Klima

- Travelogues
- Pleiades
- IDAI gazetteer ID

Read summary reports on the recent excavations at Melos in Chronique des fouilles en ligne – Archaeology in Greece Online.
Search for inscriptions mentioning Melos (Μηλο...) in the PHI Epigraphy database.

Modern Description: The history of Aegean civilisation is driven by trade, and the first commodity ever to be traded on a large scale among its islands was obsidian from Milos, used for making tools, weapons and knives by the first human inhabitants of the area. Well before 6000 BC it is found widely from Thasos to Rhodes, and from Skopelos to Crete and Egypt. It is moving to look at the piles of obsidian pieces left behind by the first workshops of Aegean history on Nychia Hill, and to realise that one is witnessing the origins of human commerce in the Island world.
The island's ancient archaeology is of great importance, with one of the richest Bronze Age settlements in the Aegean at Phylakopí on the north coast, and the remains of the ancient city of Melos, overlooking the entrance into to the island's magnificent, central caldera-bay. Both Herodotus and Thucydides say that the settlers in early historic times were Dorians from Laconia, who arrived between 1000 and 900 BC. The city they founded was at Trypití, above Klima, where the cemeteries of the 9th and 8th centuries BC indicate already considerable wealth. Again according to Herodotus (Hist. VIII. 48), the people of the island, together with those of Siphnos and Seriphos, were the only ones not to make symbolic offerings of earth and water to the heralds of the Persian Emperor, Darius.
In 480 BC Melos contributed two penteconters to the Greek fleet at Salamis. Like Thera, another Lacedaemonian colony, the island stayed out of the Delian League, but was given a hypothetical assessment of 15 talents in the tribute lists of 425 BC. The island remained independent and neutral until the Peloponnesian War, when, provoked by Athens, it leaned towards Sparta with whom it had obvious cultural and historical links. After a failed attempt to take the island in 426 BC, Athens determined to coerce it into submission, sending an embassy in 416 BC whose proposals and threats are vividly recorded by Thucydides in the ‘Melian dialogue' (V, 84–116). The Melians declined to submit, were besieged by Athens shortly afterwards and forced to surrender: the men were executed, the women and children enslaved, and the island was colonised by 500 Athenian cleruchs. In 405 BC the Spartans under Lysander expelled the cleruchs and resettled the island with what remained of its former inhabitants. After the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC the island was under Macedonian rule; subsequently under Roman dominion, it regained stability and considerable prosperity from trading its minerals. Milos flourished in the Early Christian period, being represented at the Council of Nicaea in 325 by its own bishop. The city was eventually destroyed by a succession of earthquakes in the 6th and 7th centuries, after which the island may have been briefly abandoned.
In 1207 Milos was taken into the Duchy of Naxos (later ‘of the Archipelago') by Marco Sanudo, for whom it had considerable commercial and strategic importance. A pro-Byzantium revolt against Latin rule in 1261 was quickly put down by Marco Sanudo II, who had the ring-leader—a turbulent monk from the island—thrown from a cliff into the sea. In 1316 the island was raided by a Catalan fleet under Alfonso Fadrique, who was establishing a foothold in Attica in this period. Otherwise, the island remained under direct or indirect Venetian control throughout the next centuries, until it came under Turkish rule in 1566. There followed a brief and curious period of independence from 1675 to 1678 when a local corsair or sea-captain, Ioannis (or Giorgios) Kapsis, was acclaimed as ‘King of Milos'—an act of defiance which earned him capture and execution in Istanbul. In 1767 the islanders abandoned their capital of Zephyría either because of a malaria outbreak, or because an increase in volcanic activity had caused the escape of noxious gases in the area; they resettled at today's Pláka and Trypití. During the Russo-Turkish War, the island was taken by the Russian forces of Count Orloff between 1771 and 1774. After making an important contribution in the War of Greek Independence in 1821, Milos joined the Greek State in 1830. In World War I, the bay of Milos was the Aegean base of the Allied Naval Command; during World War II the island was occupied by German forces from April 1941.
The ancient city of Melos spread around the hill of Prophítis Elías. The area and its remains can be explored by returning up the hill as far as the first sharp bend and taking the track to the left before the bend. Immediately on turning off the paved road you are confronted by an impressive circular bastion and a stretch of *ancient fortification wall, whose patterning of multicoloured volcanic blocks in pink, magenta, grey, dark blue and brown, adds dramatically to their effect. The original Archaic or early Classical fortifications, in irregular rough-hewn ‘ballooned' blocks to the left, contrast with the precise isodomic masonry of the circular tower added nearly two centuries later in the Hellenistic period. The tower was added to strengthen the defence of the East Gate which would have stood across the path a little way ahead. In the valley to the left was the city's stadium, marked by a long stretch of retaining wall in magnificent polygonal masonry on its south side (best seen from below or from the path to the catacombs) which may date from as early as the first part of the 5th century BC. A gymnasium stood above it—immediately below the path to the left. It was here that the Venus de Milo was unearthed in 1820 at the insistence of a young French military officer, Olivier Voutier: the exact spot, inside what would have been the gymnasium, is marked as if it were a sacred shrine.
A fragment of a statue-base found nearby, almost certainly belonging to the sculpture, carried the signature of the artist, a certain ‘[Alex]andros of Antioch on the Meander': this base was later conveniently ‘lost', perhaps in order to allow full-scope to those experts who wished to believe the Venus might be a work of the Golden Ages of Pheidias or of Praxiteles. Although consciously ‘Classical' in style (especially in the face, the distant gaze, the hair-style and the proportions of the torso), both the method of carving and the complex spiral of the design which is made to seem effortlessly natural date the piece to the late 2nd century BC. Aphrodite may originally have stood in a niche, gathering her falling drapery with the right hand, and holding an apple in her left hand. Others have wished to see her admiring her own reflection in a polished shield. A larger than lifesize Poseidon holding a trident, now in the Archaeological Museum in Athens, in as good condition as the Aphrodite, and dating from exactly the same period, was found lower down the hill at Klima in 1877.
Continuing further round to the right (north), the land drops slightly into a dip, with the hill of Prophítis Elías to the left (west). In the centre of the dip the quantity of collapsed stone in the middle of the field, describes a large rectangle—the podium of a substantial temple: protruding from the rubble at points are walls constructed in regular, isodomic Hellenistic masonry. On the summit of the hill of Prophítis Elías the small church is built on an ancient base and incorporates ancient elements and fluted columns laid horizontally: all around the church lie antique fragments, some pagan, some Early Christian, suggesting that this hill has been a place of worship in all periods of history. Looking down the west and north sides of the hill, marble columns can occasionally be glimpsed lying in the undergrowth: the walls of the city swept right across this field of vision from west to east, while, directly below to the north, the site of Roman thermae has been located.
Wikidata ID: Q203979
Trismegistos Geo: 15751

Info: McGilchrist's Greek Islands

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

Author, Title Text Type Date Full Category Language
Author, Title Text Type Date Full Category Language

Quick Contact 👋

Get in Touch with Us

Thank You for Contact Us! Our Team will contact you asap on your email Address.


Go to Text