Sifnos ( ; the spelling
Siphnos is obsolete in English but still by convention
often used to refer to the island in ancient times) is an island
municipality in the
Cyclades island group
main town, near the center, is known as Apollonia (pop. 942) home
of the island's folklore museum and library. The village's name is
thought to come from an ancient temple of Apollo
on the site of the church of Panayia
Yeraniofora. The second-largest town is Artemonas (744), thought to
be named after an ancient temple of Apollo's sister-goddess
, located at the site of the church
of Panayia Kokhi. The village of Kastro (101), built on top of a
high cliff on the island's northwestern shore on the site of the
ancient city of Siphnos, today has extensive medieval remains and
is the location of the island's archeological museum. The port
settlement, on the west coast of the island is known as Kamares
lies in the Cyclades between Serifos and Milos, west of
Delos and Paros, about 130
km (80 nautical miles) from Piraeus (Athens'
It has an area of 74 km² and is 15 km long and 7.5 km
wide. and a shoreline of 70 km, with a permanent population of
2442. The island is reached on the ferries which run on the
Piraeus- Kythnos- Serifos- Sifnos- Milos- Kimolos line. There are
also infrequent sailings to other islands in the Cyclades.
Sifnos was inhabited by human beings from at least 4000 BCE.
Archeological evidence indicates the island was within the
mainstream of Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Cycladic civilization
. The island was
very wealthy in ancient times, thanks to its gold, silver, and
lead, which were being mined there as early as the 3rd millenium
of this is the treasury which the Siphnians built at Delphi in the 6th
century BCE to house their offerings.
Pausanias, these mines were obliterated by floods in ancient times,
a disaster which some attributed to the people of the island
suspending their tribute out of greed. Modern scholars suggest that
some of the mines flooded because they had eventually been dug to a
depth below sea level, while the majority of them, situated far
from the sea, went probably exhausted. Remains of ancient mines,
some dating back to prehistoric times, are still to be seen on the
island, most notably at Ay. Sostis, and remains of ancient
fortifications, dating from the third millennium to the sixth
century BCE, have been found at Ay. Andreas, Ay. Nikitas, and
Kastro. Another indication of Sifnos's wealth is the fact that it
was one of the first places in Greece to mint coins, beginning
around 600 BCE.
During the extensive Greek migrations which occurred beginning
probably in the 12th century BCE, Sifnos was mostly populated by
Ionian Greeks from Athens. The island appears only rarely in the
subsequent ancient history of Greece. In the sixth century
BCE it was invaded by pirates from Samos.
the fifth century BCE, Sifnos was an official member of the Greek
defensive alliance formed to fight the Persian Wars
. In the next century the island was briefly
taken over by the Persians but liberated by a fleet sent by Alexander the Great.
Little is known of Sifnos during the Roman and Byzantine
eras, though three Roman sarcophagi
remaining in the streets of Kastro and
a collection of 80 Byzantine coins in the Museum there testify to
substantial continued population during those times. In the early
14th century Sifnos came under the power of the Italian or Spanish
Januli da Corogna, who
proclaimed the island independent from the Sanudi dynasty which
then ruled most of the Cyclades area. The Corognas ruled Sifnos for
over a hundred years; around 1440 as a result of a dynastic
marriage power over the island passed to a Bolognese family, the
Gozzadini, who ruled until 1617. Though both these dynasties became
thoroughly Hellenized, they retained their Roman Catholic
Little is also known of Sifnos during the Ottoman rule of the
Cyclades from 1537 on. It seems likely that, as in most of the
Cyclades, Ottoman rule on Sifnos was fairly loose, consisting
mainly of the collection of taxes, with the islanders largely
administering their own affairs. By the early 17th century Sifnos
was a significant commercial center, and from 1821 the island
played an important role in the Greek national revolution.
Notable figures from Sifnos in modern times include the educator
and revolutionary leader Nikolaos
(1780-1858), who served as Greece's Minister of
Education, and the chef Nikolaos
(1878 - 1958), who wrote a classic cookery book
still used in Greece today.The island's rich clay
veins, sunny weather and temperature have made Sifnos a capital of
pottery in the Aegean, with unique
jars and pots that are a kind of "trademark" of the island.
They are frequent the Sifnian everyday life, such as ashtrays
, cooking and food vessels, "masteles",
"foufoudes" (kind of chimneys) etc. Locally, 'Sifnios' was a
variant word for potter
. Initially the
oldest potteries were found in central regions such as Artemon and
Ano Petali to avoid pirate
The church at VathyFile:TesoroSiphnios04.jpg|Frieze from the
Siphnian Treasury, Delphi
Robin, Blue Guide Greece. 6th ed., London, A & C
Black, 1995, p. 665
- Maranti, Anna Siphnos: The Brillance of Apollo.
Athens, Toubis, 2002, p. 18
- Fitton, J. Lesley, Cycladic Art, London, British
Museum, 1989, p. 13, 57.
- Herodotus III.57
- Pausanias X.11
- Bury, J. D. and Meiggs, Russell, A History of Greece to the
Death of Alexander the Great. 4th ed., New York, St. Martin's
Press, 1978, p. 135
- Some Aspects of Lead and Silver Mining in the
- Barber pp. 665-666.
- Maranti p. 20.
- Hammond, N. G. L., A History of Greece to 322 bc,
Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1967, pp. 82, 88, 199, 226,
- Hetherington, Paul, The Greek
Islands: Guide to the Byzantine and Medieval Buildings and their
Art. London, Quiller, 2001, pp. 301-302
- Maranti pp. 27-28
- Maranti p. 34, 42.