According to archaeological discoveries, Amorgos has been inhabited since the prehistoric era. There used to be 3 important cities on the island: Minoa, Aegiali and Arkessini. During the Roman years it was place of exile. In the Byzantine years it was included in the Province of Islands. Afterwards it passed in the sovereignty of Francs and finally in the Venice Domination. In the years that followed Amorgos had to face the pirates’ raids as well as Turkish sovereignty. It participated in the Greek Revolution in 1821 and was appended to Greece in 1832.
Still today you can go around the island and see remains from the ancient times. You can also visit the Archaeological Museum in Chora which for instance exhibit remnants of the Minoan civilisation which existed here more than 4000.
Prehistory and Antiquity Amorgos 2800 – 2300 BC
During the Early Cycladic Period (3rd millennium BC), Amorgos was one of the mort important Aegean cultural centres. It had more than 12 fortified acropolises on hilltops and capes (Markiani was the chief one), as well as cemeteries (Dokathismata, Kapsala). Marble sculpture and figurine making developed at that time, when the first monumental sculptures were created and figurine workshops were established. Finally, metalwork and navigation had been spread. All this, along with Amorgos’s key location between the Cyclades and the Dodecanese, made the island’s part in establishing the new culture of the Bronze Age in the Aegean essential.
The rise of the Minoan civilization during the Middle Cycladic Period (2000-1600 BC) turned Amorgos into a trade station within the framework of the Minoan naval supremacy (1600-1450 BC). The founding of Minoa probably dates from that time, and is related to the myth identifying it with the location chosen by king Minos as his summer residence. When the Mycenaean civilization flourished (1400-1200 BC), populations from mainland Greece infiltrated Amorgos and spread their Mycenaean koine, exploiting the vital part Amorgos played in communications in the Aegean.
The Geometric period (10th-8th century BC) was marked by Ionian colonists from Naxos, who founded Arkesini, at the southeastern part of Amorgos. In the 7th century BC, Ionian colonists from Miletus founded Aigiali to the north of the western coast. Those two cities, along with Minoa, were the centers of cultural development throughout historical times. They formed the Commonwealth of Tripolis (of the three cities), developed incity-states (polis) and managed to flourish. Taking advantage of its location between mainland Greece and the Asia Minor coastline, Amorgos took part in all historical and cultural developments of that time. It fought during the Persian Wars and joined the Athenian League, partially granting Athens its own autonomy. In 337 BC, Macedonians took it over, whereas in 322 the Macedonians won the naval battle of Amorgos against Athenian generals. Contending for Amorgos demonstrates its strategic importance for the rule over the island and mainland Greece. During Roman Times, Amorgos declined and was used as an exile destination.
In antiquity, the island was a center producing robes of flax, which was grown on the island and was called amorgos.
Byzantine period and Modern times
For Byzantine Amorgos little is known, save the fact that it belonged to the Aegean Sea Theme. The imposing monastery of Panagia Chozoviotissa, built on the steep slope of the mount Profitis Ilias in the 11th century, is the most important monument of that era and one of the most beautiful places on Amorgos.
The following period is quite a turbulent one, since Amorgos suffered long-standing consecutive predation by pirates resulting to the desertion of onshore settlements and the movement of populations to fortress-settlements in the hinterland. In 1309, it joined the Duchy of the Aegean Sea. Then, it was initially contended for by Venetian nobles, and next by Catalans and Ottomans up to 1537, when Hayreddin Barbarossatook over the island. Political and economic privileges granted by the Ottoman Sultan to Amorgos ended this long period of instability, turning the island into a developed port of the Aegean.
Amorgos played an active part in the 1821 Greek War of Independence with its naval power. After Kapodistrias assumed the government of Greece, a school that operated according to themonitorial system was founded. In the 19th century, many inhabitants of Amorgos migrated to Athens, the new capital of Greece, in order to work as buliders and stone-cutters. Migration resulted in the demographic decline of the island. Therefore, during Ioannis Metaxas’s dictatorship (1930’s), the island became an ideal place for exile. In 1941, Amorgos initially came under Italian government, since the Axis Powers had taken over Greece, but after Italy capitulated in 1943, the island came under German rule until it was finally liberated in 1944.
Source: Municipality of Amorgos