CHIOS, EIGHT THOUSAND YEARS OF CIVILIZATION
People inhabited Chios very early due to its geographically important position and its mild climatic conditions. The earliest archaeological findings date back to the 6th millenium. Excavations in Emporios and Aghio Galas provide us with information about agricultural / farming communities formed during the Neolithic Age and the early Age of Copper. According to the myth, the first settler of Chios was Oinopeon whose daughter, the nymphe Chione, gave her name to the island.
The Ions came to Chios and the surrounding area around 1000 BC. Chios soon developed financially and culturally and it is considered as the birthplace of Homer, the greatest poet of all times. A great naval and merchant power exporting selective products such as ceramics and wine, which was considered as the best and the most expensive in ancient times. The Chian art also flourishes and masterpieces of Mikkiadis, Archermos, Voupalos and Athenis used to decorate many greek cities.
Chios participated in revolutions and war events until the establishment of Constantinople when, as the first Christian monuments show, it was very developed. However piracy and the Arabian raids influenced the island negatively. During the 9th century AD the Byzantine state was reorganised and the fortress of Chios was built to ensure its safety. Other small fortresses and watching towers (vigles) was built in seeral locations of the island.
Nea Moni, the great monastery, established by the Byzantine Emperor Constantine the 9th the Gladiator, played a significant role not only in the religious and cultural life but also in the economy of the island.
Chios continues to be the centre of the encounters among Byzantines, Europeans and Turks. The Genoese occupied the island in 1346 and for the next 200 years Mahona, Justiniani’s company controlled the economy of Chios. The fortress became the centre of the town with impressive buildings, the fortress-villages were organised and the exploitation of the mastic gum was the main source of wealth for the conquerors.
The Turks occupied the island in 1566 without any resistance. The Chians used to have certain privileges due to exclusive products like the mastic gum. The economy flourished again based mainly on the weaving and Chios was considered as the paradise of the East. The massacre though in 1822 by the Turks and the destructive earthquake in 1881 left nothing on the island but relics and ceased all its activities.
After the liberation from the Turkish occupation in 1912 Chios followed the common route of the Greek State. The most important events which influenced the life of the island was the war in Asia Minor with the settlement of thousands of refugees, the Second World War and the Greek – Turkish political crisis in 1974.
In spite of all the war destructions, the earthquakes and the unplanned building constructions, the evidence of its long history, the high living standard, the tradition in wealth, education and nobility, the wonderful climate and the Aegean light make Chios a place which impresses and enchants.