The Aegean Islands

This small, sharply defined, island-studded sea, has been a major influence on the development of Hellenic civilization. Located with Greece to the west, the Balkans to the north, Anatolia to the east, and the Mediterranean beyond Crete to the south, it has been both a highway for war and commerce, and a barrier to invasion. What follows are notes concerning many of the islands to dot the waters of the Aegean. Not included is Euboea, which is located among Central Greek states, and Crete, which has its own page.

Overall reviews of Aegean chronology are:
The Aegean
Cezair Bahr i-Sefid (Ottoman Province of the Aegean),

Articles on individual islands are:
∆gina, Amorgos, Anaphi, Andros, Antikythira, Antiparos, Astypalaea, Chios, Cos, Delos, Halki, Hydra, Ikaria, Ios, Kalymnos, Karpathos, Kassos, Kastellorizo, Kea, Kimolos, Kythira, Kythnos, Lemnos, Leros, Lesbos, Milos, Mykonos, Naxos, Nisyros, Paros, Patmos, Polykandros, Rhodes, Salamis, Samos, Samothraki, Seriphos, Sikinos, Siphnos, Skiathos, Skopelos, Skyros, the Sporades, Symi, Syros, Thasos, Thera, Tilos, Tinos.

Certain cities on the islands also have articles, these are:
Amorgos: ∆giale, Arcesine, Minoa
Kea: Iulus, Karthaea, Korresia, Poiiessa
Lesbos: Antissa, Eressos, Mythimna, Mytilini
Rhodes: Ialyssos, Kamiros, Kretenia, Lindos


The Aegean A general survey of the region as a whole.

The AEGEAN SEA The waters between mainland Greece and mainland Anatolia in one direction, and mainland Tharace and Crete on the other, host a very large collection of small islands. The region has only infrequently been entirely under the rule of a single government, but some general remarks can be made nevertheless.



The Islands This section gives information on individual Islands.


∆GINA A small island in the Saronikos gulf, near Piraeus. Occupied from about 4000 BCE, and falling early under Cretan (Minoan) influence. Later enduring Dorian migrations, it remained a great naval power until past the 7th century BCE.




ALONNISOS An island in the Sporades, just east of Skopelos. Inhabited from prehistoric times; it's older name was Ikos. Other names were Achilleiodromeia, Helidromia, and Dromos.


AMORGOS An island in the Aegean, located with Naxos to the northwest and Astypalaea to the southeast. For Amorgan cities, see Aegiale, Arcesine, and Minoa.


ANAPHI A small island in the southern Cyclades, with Thera to the west and Astypalaea to the east.


ANDROS An island in the central Aegean, northernmost of the Cyclades, and facing the southeastern tip of Euboea.


ANTIKYTHIRA (Cerigotto) A small island off the south coast of Greece, between Kythira to the north and Crete to the south.


ANTIPAROS A small island in the central Cyclades.


ASTYPALAEA An island in the Aegean, located with Amorgos to the northwest, Cos to the northeast, and Anaphi to the southwest.


CHIOS A large island just off the central Anatolian coast of the Aegean. It is reputed (along with about six other locales) to be the homeland of Homer.


COS An island in the Dodecanese Group, about 60 miles (100 km.) northwest of Rhodes, and lying athwart the entrance to Kerme Bay, in extreme southwestern Turkey. Famed in antiquity as the site of an important School of Medicine (originally a Temple of Asclepius), and as the home of the physician Hippocrates (c. 460-c. 377).


DELOS A small but once-important island in the central Cyclades. An early cult center to Poseidon, and mentioned several times in The Odyssey, it became the headquarters of the Athenian-sponsored Delian League, which fought the Persian Empire and ultimately foundered over Athenian-Spartan rivalry. Increasingly isolated owing to shifting trade routes, it was seized by Mediterranean pirates in the 1st century BCE. Subdued once more, it gradually fell into obscurity and, with a major loss of population, became little more than a quarry as Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, and Turks slowly pulled apart its very extensive ruins to build their own structures. The remaining ruins are, nevertheless, still quite extensive.


HALKI A small island in the Dodecanese, lying about 10 miles (16 km.) west of Rhodes.


HYDRA An island of the coast of Argolis, northeastern Peloponessus.


IKARIA At the northern end of the Dodecanese, west of Samos and northwest of Patmos. It is spoken of in mythology as being near the place where Ikarus, son of Daedalus, fell to Earth. It's older names were Makris, Dolichi, and Ichthioessa.


IOS An island in the Cyclades located south of Naxos and north of Thera. It is one of seven locales reputed to be the birthplace of Homer.


KALYMNOS A Dodecanese island lying immediately northwest of Cos and southeast of Leros. Homer mentioned the island as Kalydna.


KARPATHOS A long and narrow ridge of an island in the Dodecanese. It is located southwest of Rhodes and northeast of Crete, forming a link as it were between mainland Greece and southeastern Anatolia. Mentioned by Homer as Krapathos - its medieval name was Sparpandos. The island had 4 city-states (the Tetrapolis): Potidaeo, Arkesia, Brykous, and Nisyros.


KASSOS The southernmost Dodecanese island, southwest of Karpathos, and northeast of the eastern point of Crete. At various times it has been known as Amphes, Astrave, and Achne.


KASTELLORIZO A tiny Dodecanese island about 80 miles (125 km.) east of Rhodes and only a mile or so off the Lycian (Turkish) coast - it is, in fact, the easternmost point of Greece. In earlier times (until 4th cent CE) called Megisti.

KEA An island in the northwestern Cyclades, north of Kythnos and south of the southeastern tip of Euboea. For Kean cities, see Iulus.


KIMOLOS a small island in the Cyclades, immediately to the northeast of Milos and separated by a channel less than a mile (1.6 km.) across. It's older name was Echinusa; in Byzantine times it was called Arzantiera.


KYTHIRA (Porphyrusa, Cerigo) An island off the south coast of Greece, generally grouped with the Ionian Islands of the west. Long known as a source of the murex clam, which provides the purple dye so prized by the ancients.


KYTHNOS An island in the western Cyclades, located just north of Seriphos.


LEMNOS An island in the northeastern Aegean.


LEROS A Dodecanese island, northwest of Kalymnos, southeast of Patmos.


LESBOS Third largest island in the Aegean, located in the northeast, near the Hellespont. For Lesban cities, see Antissa, Eressos, Mythimna, and Mytilini.


MILOS An island in the southwestern Cyclades, located south of Siphnos and Seriphos. It was an ancient center of trade, known to be a commercial exporter of obsidian to early Phoenicia. A Mycanean-Age community was based here, largely destroyed in the same volcanic catastrophe that annihilated Thera. The Athenian slaughter of the entire male population in 416 BCE in reprisal for neutrality in the Peloponnesian War inspired Euripedes to write and stage The Trojan Women, an early anti-war play. Here also was discovered the famous statue of Aphodite, now in the Louvre.


MYKONOS A bare and rocky little island just west of Delos, and southeast of Tinos, with which it has often been associated. See Tinos for specifics of that isle.


NAXOS and the ARCHIPELAGO Naxos itself is the largest island of the Cyclades Archipelago in the central Aegean, immediately east of Paros, and north by no great distance from Ios. It was known in antiquity for its marble quarries. In the Middle Ages it was a Duchy technically in fief first of the Kingdom of Thessaly, then of Venice, but in practice independent.


NISYROS A Dodecanese island, south of Cos, northwest of Tilos.


PAROS An island in the central Cyclades, just west of Naxos, and south of Delos and Mykonos.


PATMOS In the Dodecanese group, a holy island - St.John the Divine wrote his apocalypse, the Book of Revelation, there. It's older name was Litois.


POLYKANDROS (Mod. Folegandros) Between Melos and Sicinos, said to have been founded by Polykandros, a son of Minos.


RHODES An island off the southwestern tip of Turkey. For Rhodian cities, see Ialyssos, Kamiros, Kretenia, and Lindos.


SALAMIS An island in the Saronikos Gulf just west of Piraeus and Athens, best known as the site of the naval battle between the Greeks and the Persians in 480 BCE; but it was also an important pre-Dorian power as well.


SAMOS An island in the eastern Aegean sea, opposite the site of Ephesus, in Asia Minor.


SAMOTHRAKI Located in the northeastern corner of the Aegean. The seat of the famous mysteries of the Kabeiri. Inhabited at the end of the neolithic era  appr. 3000 BCE. Older names Samos, Melite, Dardania, Leukania, Saonissos, Ethiopia


SERIPHOS An island in the western Cyclades, located south of Kythnos and northwest of Siphnos.
  • Diktys
  • Polydeucas
  • Colonization by Aeolians
  • Colonization by Athenians
  • Eteokles
  • Allied to Athens...................................479-404
  • To Sparta..........................................404-378
  • To Athens..........................................378-363
  • To Macedonia.......................................363-308
  • To Egypt...........................................308-255
  • To Macedonia.......................................255-168
  • To the Roman Republic..............................168-27
  • To the Roman Empire.............................27 BCE-395 CE
  • To the Byzantine Empire............................395-1204
  • To Naxos..........................................1204-1207
  • Partitioned between various Venetian families...
  • MICHIELI (1/4) (1207-1537)
  • John...................................................c. 1410
  • GIUSTINIANI (1/4) (1207-1412)
  • John I
  • Peter.............................................1207-1235
  • Philippa (fem.)
  • John II
  • Giustiniani portion to Michieli...
  • GHIZZI (1/2) (1207-1334), followed by...
  • Jeremiah (in Amorgos, Andros, Tinos, etc.)........1207-1251 with...
  • Andrew (in Amorgos, Tinos, etc.)..................1207-1259
  • Bartholomew I (in Tinos-Mykonos)..................1259-1303
  • George I (in Tinos-Mykonos).......................1303-1315
  • Bartholomew II (in Tinos-Mykonos 1315-41).........1315-1334 d. 1341
  • BRAGADINI  (1334-1354), and then...
  • ?
  • MINOTTI  (1354-1373), and then...
  • Ermolao
  • ADOLDI  (1373-1432), and finally...
  • Nicholas
  • MINOTTI (1432-1537)
  • ??
  • To the Ottoman Empire.............................1537-1829
  • To Greece thereafter...



  • SIKINOS In the southern Cyclades, forming the middle member of a triad with between Folegandros to the west and Ios to the east. Its name in early times was Oinoe.


    SIPHNOS An island in the Aegean, northeast of Milos, west of Paros, southeast of Seriphos.


    SKIATHOS The westernmost of the Sporades islands, lying just across the Skiathou Channel from the mainland.


    SKOPELOS One of the Sporades islands, immediately east of Skiathos. In early times called Peparithos, it was renamed Skopelos during the 1st century CE.


    SKYROS Largest of the Sporades islands, lying apart from the main collection, to the northeast of Euboea. Called in early times Older names Pelasgia, Dolopia, Island of Magnites.


    THE SPORADES A group of small islands (Alonnisos, Skiathos, Skopelos and Skyros are the largest) in the north-central Aegean, just north and northeast of Euboea.


    SYMI A Dodecanese island, located to the northwest of Rhodes at no great distance, and separated from the Turkish mainland to the north and to the east by less than 6 miles (10 km.) each. In ancient times the island was known as Elkousa, Metapontis and Aegli.


    SYROS An island in the Aegean, south of Andros, southwest of Tinos, west of Delos and Mykonos, east of Kythnos. Obscure until the 19th century, it increased in importance as many refugees from the War of Independence settled there.


    THASOS The northernmost island in the Aegean, a scant few miles from the Thracian coast, a bit southeast of the port city of Kavala. Older names include Aeria, Chrysi, Aethria, Idonis.


    THERA The southernmost of the Cyclades group, about 75 miles (120 km.) north of Irakleon, Crete. This island, known in Classical times as Kalliste, was called in early modern times Santorini (St. Irene, who was martyred here). The chief export of the modern island is pumice.


    TILOS A Dodecanese island, located northwest of Rhodes and southeast of Nisyros. In ancient times called Agathusa, during the later Middle Ages is was called Pisconia.


    TINOS (& MYKONOS) The larger of two medium sized islands in the north central Cyclades; the second out from Euboea. Following the disintigration of central authority resulting from the 4th Crusade, the islands became a locally autonomous Margraviate. See also Mykonos for specifics on that island. In ealy time Tinos was in early times called Ophiussa.

    The Cities This section details particular cities within various islands.

    AMORGOS: AEGIALE One of the three ancient city states of Amorgos.



    AMORGOS: ARCESINE Ancient city state of Amorgos


    AMORGOS: MINOA Ancient city state on Amorgos island; older name Minyia.


    KEA: IULUS (mod. Hora) The chief city on this island, standing on a height in the interior of Ceos in about the location of the modern city of Kea.


    KEA: KARTHAEA on the south-east coast of Kea; nowadays called Poles.


    KEA: KORRESIA in early times an independent city of Kea, but in Strabo's day only the harbour of Iulis. Nowadays known as Livadi.


    KEA: POIIESSA Ancient city state of Kea, nowadays called Pises

    LESBOS: ANTISSA Ancient city state on the island of Lesbos.


    LESBOS: ERESSOS A town in Lesbos, homeland of the poetess Sappho.


    LESBOS: MYTHIMNA A town in Lesbos


    LESBOS: MYTILINI The chief city of Lesbos.


    RHODES: IALYSSOS City in the northern tip of the island of Rhodes. Ialysius was one of six cities of Dorian origin in Caria that had gathered in a confederacy having its common sanctuary, a temple to Apollo, on the promontory on which Cnidus was located, named the Triopion. Together they formed what used to be called the Hexapolis (in Greek, "the six cities") until Halicarnassus was excluded and they became the Pentapolis (in Greek, "the five cities").
  • Colonized by the tribes of Kares, Hettuwas, Phoenicians, Thessalians, Achaeans
  • Tribe of Kares
  • Phalanthos
  • Phorbas (see also Lesbos)
  • Iphiklos
  • Ialyssos
  • Ochimus
  • Kerkaphos
  • Colonization by Crete..................................c. 1500
  • Colonization by the Achaeans
  • Colonization by the Dorians
  • Kingdom, 6th century
  • Damagitos
  • Within the Dorian Hexapolis
  • To Persia........................................520's-478
  • To the Athenian Alliance...........................478-412
  • Aristocracy........................................412-408
  • Allied to Sparta
  • To Rhodes..........................................408



  • RHODES: KAMIROS City on the western shore of the island of Rhodes. Camirus was one of six cities of Dorian origin in Caria that had gathered in a confederacy having its common sanctuary, a temple to Apollo, on the promontory on which Cnidus was located, named the Triopion. Together they formed what used to be called the Hexapolis (in Greek, "the six cities") until Halicarnassus was excluded and they became the Pentapolis (in Greek, "the five cities")


    RHODES: KRETENIA A very ancient kingdom of Rhodes


    RHODES: LINDOS City on the eastern coast of the island of Rhodes. Lindus was one of six cities of Dorian origin in Caria that had gathered in a confederacy having its common sanctuary, a temple to Apollo, on the promontory on which Cnidus was located, named the Triopion. Together they formed what used to be called the Hexapolis (in Greek, "the six cities") until Halicarnassus was excluded and they became the Pentapolis (in Greek, "the five cities"). Lindos was the birthplace of Cleobulus, one of the Seven Sages listed by Diogenes Lśrtius, who lived toward the end of the VIIth century BCE.
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