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Archaeological tourism

The archaeological tourism in Ios is associated with a visit to the archaeological museum in the Hora and to areas of archaeological interest like Skarkos, (Protocycladic settlement of Ios), the ancient walls of Hora, Roman aqueduct at Aghia Theodoti, the Byzantine Palaeokastro at Psathi, Ellinika at Epano Kampos, the ancient tomb at Plakotos claiming to be the burial site of the great poet Homer and much more.

In the book of Choiseul – Gouffier we can see in an engraving the oldest known image of Ios, where are shown the relics of the Ancient town, which are visible so far. The main residential center of Ios, at least from the Archaic period and then, is the homonymous town. Its existence is also attested by Ptolemy: “Ios island and town” [Martharis, 1999]. The ancient town of Ios was located where the present Hora is, on the steep heep of the Castle which overlooks the harbor area. Its natural fortified position was reinforced with a wall that surrounded the entire hill. Its main gate is on the west, to the pont the stepped path leading from the port to the city was ending. The wall is made from oblong volumes of local slates. As shown by the pottery of the archaic and classical found in the foundations, some parts of its date back to these times whereas the general picture that is presented, advocates that its bigger part dates in the Hellenistic period.

The modern archaeological research in Ios started by the Archaeological Service in the early 80s. The earliest traces of human presence that are identified at the island, so far, are found at the Skarkos location. There was collected superficial pottery dating in the transition from the Early Cycladic I period to the Early Cycladic II (Kampos group, 2.800 – 2.700 B.C.).

During the next periods (Early cycladic ΙΙ, 2.700 – 2.200 B.C.) when the communications in the Aegean were at their peak, Ios appears to be prosperous and populous. There are settlements located mainly in capes and coastal locations, such as Aghia Theodoti, Psathi and Plakes on the east, Manganari on the south and Skarkos on the west, where is the biggest and most important settlement of the Island. The cemeteries of these settlements were also identified. At the same time there cemeteries found, with the most important being the one at Plakotos on the north of the island, the settlements of them still being unknown.

According to the monetary and epigraphic data found on Ios, it was worshipped ο Zeus Polieus, Athena Polias, the Pythian Apollo, Apollo the Saviour, the chthonic deity of vegetation (Fytalmios) and Isis.

Remains of ecclesiastical buildings are found in the coastal of Psathi and Aghia Theodoti on the east of the island. In other places in the interior or the coasts of the island, on tops convenient for observatories, are visible the remains of circular or square towers (Mersinia, Psaropirgos etc.) whereas at the Ellinika region at Epano Kampos there is an Hellenistic two storey building of rural character in very good state of preservation. At the location Magazia, on the north, are the ruins of the Roman coastal county whereas in Psathi and Aghia Theodoti are remains of Roman aqueducts [Martharis, 1999].

The fortified settlement Paleocastro located on a vertical hill in northern Ios, has Byzantine elements and it is speculated that it was built during the Komnenoi reign [Spartinos, 2004].

The island of Ios is considered to be the burial ground of the great poet Homer. Information on the death and burial of Homer we take from Strabo as well as from Pausanias that mentions a prophecy from the Oracle of Delphi.

The prophecy says:

“Happy and unhappy (because he was born for both)

You seek for hometown, but there is the one of your mother which is not your hometown.

There is an island Ios, hometown of your mother, that will accept you after you die.

But beware of the riddle of the young children ”.

There is also the version of Ragavis that says that Homer died because he couldn’t find the answer to the riddle of the young fishermen [Tsagaropoulos, 1965]. Also, archaeologists have unearthed ancient coins bearing the head of Homer and the words HOMER and IITON.

 

Bibliography:

*          Martharis M., “The Archaeological Museum of Ios”, Ministry of Culture 21st Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquites, 1999.

*          Spartinos M. – G., “Ios, Tracing the relationship between man and his environment”, Municipality of Ios, “Practices for Sustainable Development in the Southern Aegean Islands (islands of Ios and Telos) program”, Co-funding Ministry of Environment , Syros 2004.

*          Tsagaropoulos A., “Ios, a touch of white in the Aegean”, Rokos Brothers printing shop, Athens 1965.

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