Sikinos (Cyclades) 11 Hagia Marina - Σίκινος

Σίκινος - Sikinos, island polis with Archaic to Roman remains, the modern Hagia Marina on Sikinos, Cyclades
Hits: 11
Works: 11
Latitude: 36.662000
Longitude: 25.090100
Confidence: High

Greek name: Σίκινος
Place ID: 367251PSik
Time period: ACHR
Region: Cyclades
Country: Greece
Department: Thera/Sikinos
Mod: Hagia Marina

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Search for inscriptions mentioning Sikinos (Σικιν...) in the PHI Epigraphy database.

Modern Description: The traditions that the island's former name was ‘Oenoe', from the fame of its wine (‘οἶνος'), and that its founder hero, Sikinos, was the grandson of Dionysos, are reflected in the excellent local wine that the island still produces from its remaining vineyards. Sikinos was also praised for its figs in Antiquity: vines and figs were the only plants hardy enough to survive in its harsh, rocky landscape. Its inhabitants had to be equally tenacious and hardy to survive on the island: the two known settlements of antiquity, at Palaiokastro on the island's eastern extremity, and Ancient Sikinos in the southwest of the island, are both remarkable for the alarming perpendicularity of their sites—marvellously panoramic, but tough indeed to inhabit.
It is all the more remarkable, therefore, that one of the most interesting and best-preserved Roman monuments in the Cyclades is to be found on Sikinos—a grand mausoleum, of oriental inspiration, originally thought to have been a temple, which has survived by being converted into a Christian church dedicated to the Dormition of the Virgin and is now known as the monastery of Episkopí. This singular, and in many ways moving, monument underlines the need to reassess the significance of small, island-outposts such as Sikinos in the period of Roman occupation.
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 Neïda a child named ‘Sikinos', in honour of whom the island'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.
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 German 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.
A thirty-minute walk from Episkopi to the southwest towards the peak of Aghia Marina brings you to the site of Ancient Sikinos. The habitation occupied a triangular area bounded by a fortress at the summit of Aghia Marina (where the chapel now stands); a shoulder to the northeast of it where there are the remains of fortification; and another shoulder to the east where there is a clear platform for a public or sacred building which stood on the ridge looking down to the shore to the southeast. In the concavity between these three points are the remains of retaining walls and a fortified enceinte constructed in masonry of small dimensions.
The site is almost impracticably steep and drops straight into the gorge below where there is a wellhead— perhaps formerly a spring. On the slope can be seen two lime-kilns, now abandoned, once used for reducing marble to mortar: this may explain why there is little marble left on the site itself.
Wikidata ID: Q747935

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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