Thasos

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Thasos
Περιφερειακή ενότητα / Δήμος
Θάσου
Regional unit
Limenas Thasou
Limenas Thasou
Thasos within East Macedonia and Thrace
Thasos within East Macedonia and Thrace
Coordinates: 40°41′N 24°39′E / 40.683°N 24.650°E / 40.683; 24.650Coordinates: 40°41′N 24°39′E / 40.683°N 24.650°E / 40.683; 24.650
Country Greece
Region East Macedonia and Thrace
Capital Thasos
Area
 • Total 379 km2 (146 sq mi)
Elevation 1,205 m (3,953 ft)
Population (2011)
 • Total 13,770
 • Density 36/km2 (94/sq mi)
Postal codes 640 04
Area codes 25930
Car plates ΚΒ
Website www.thassos.gr

Thasos or Thassos (Greek: Θάσος) is a Greek island in the northern Aegean Sea, close to the coast of Thrace and the plain of the river Nestos but geographically part of Macedonia. It is the northernmost Greek island, and 12th largest by area. Thasos is also the name of the largest town of the island (also known as Limenas Thasou, "Harbour of Thasos"), situated at the northern side, opposite the mainland and about 10 kilometres (6 mi) from Keramoti.

History[edit]

Prehistory[edit]

Thasos 3D

Lying close to the coast of Eastern Macedonia, Thasos was inhabited from the Palaeolithic period onwards,[1] but the earliest settlement to have been explored in detail is that at Limenaria, where remains from the Middle and Late Neolithic relate closely to those found at the mainland's Drama plain. In contrast, Early Bronze Age remains on the island align it with the Aegean culture of the Cyclades and Sporades, to the south; at Skala Sotiros[2] for example, a small settlement was encircled by a strongly built defensive wall. Even earlier activity is demonstrated by the presence of large pieces of 'megalithic' anthropomorphic stelai built into these walls, which, so far, have no parallels in the Aegean area.

There is then a gap in the archaeological record until the end of the Bronze Age c 1100 BC, when the first burials took place at the large cemetery of Kastri in the interior of the island.[3][4] Here built tombs covered with small mound of earth were typical until the end of the Iron Age. In the earliest tombs were a small number of locally imitated Mycenaean pottery vessels, but the majority of the hand-made pottery with incised decoration reflects connections eastwards with Thrace and beyond.

Antiquity[edit]

Ancient Agora of Thasos

The island was colonized at an early date by Phoenicians, attracted probably by its gold mines; they founded a temple to the god Melqart, whom the Greeks identified as "Tyrian Heracles", and whose cult was merged with Heracles in the course of the island's Hellenization.[5] The temple still existed in the time of Herodotus.[6] An eponymous Thasos, son of Phoenix (or of Agenor, as Pausanias reported) was said to have been the leader of the Phoenicians, and to have given his name to the island.

Around 650 BC, or a little earlier, Greeks from Paros founded a colony on Thasos.[7] A generation or so later, the poet Archilochus, a descendant of these colonists, wrote of casting away his shield during a minor war against an indigenous Thracian tribe, the Saians.[8] Thasian power, and sources of its wealth, extended to the mainland, where the Thasians owned gold mines even more valuable than those of the island; their combined annual revenues amounted to between 200 and 300 talents. Herodotus says that the best mines on the island were those opened by the Phoenicians on the east side of the island, facing Samothrace.. Archilochus described Thasos as "an ass's backbone crowned with wild wood." The island's capital, Thasos, had two harbors. Besides its gold mines, the wine, nuts and marble of Thasos were well known in antiquity. Thasian wine was quite famous. Thasian coins had the head of the wine god Dionysos on one side and bunches of grape of the other.[9]

Thasos was important during the Ionian Revolt against Persia. After the capture of Miletus (494 BC) Histiaeus, the Ionian leader, laid siege. The attack failed, but, warned by the danger, the Thasians employed their revenues to build war ships [10] and strengthen their fortifications. This excited the suspicions of the Persians, and Darius compelled them to surrender their ships and pull down their walls. After the defeat of Xerxes the Thasians joined the Delian confederacy; but afterwards, on account of a difference about the mines and marts on the mainland, they revolted.

The Athenians defeated them by sea, and, after a siege that lasted more than two years, took the capital, Thasos, probably in 463 BC, and compelled the Thasians to destroy their walls, surrender their ships, pay an indemnity and an annual contribution (in 449 BC this was 21 talents, from 445 BC about 30 talents), and resign their possessions on the mainland. In 411 BC, at the time of the oligarchical revolution at Athens, Thasos again revolted from Athens and received a Lacedaemonian governor; but in 407 BC the partisans of Lacedaemon were expelled, and the Athenians under Thrasybulus were admitted.

After the Battle of Aegospotami (405 BC), Thasos again fell into the hands of the Lacedaemonians under Lysander who formed a decarchy there; but the Athenians must have recovered it, for it formed one of the subjects of dispute between them and Philip II of Macedonia. In the embroilment between Philip V of Macedonia and the Romans, Thasos submitted to Philip, but received its freedom at the hands of the Romans after the Battle of Cynoscephalae (197 BC), and it was still a "free" state in the time of Pliny.

Byzantine Era[edit]

Further information: Byzantine Greece
Byzantine church in Thasos

Thasos was part of the Eastern Roman Empire, now known as the Byzantine Empire, from 395 on. According to the 6th-century Synecdemus, it belonged to the province of Macedonia Prima, although the 10th-century De thematibus claims that it was part of Thracia.[11] The island was a major source of marble until the disruption of the Slavic invasions in the late 6th/7th centuries, and several churches from Late Antiquity have been found on it.[11] The island remained in Byzantine hands for most of the Middle Ages. It functioned as a naval base in the 13th century, under its own doux, and came briefly under the rule of the Genoese Tedisio Zaccaria in 1307–13. Returning to Byzantine control, its bishopric was raised to an archdiocese by Manuel II Palaiologos. Thasos was captured by the Genoese Gattilusi family ca. 1434, who surrendered it to the Ottoman Empire in 1455.[11] Following the Ottoman conquest of the Despotate of the Morea in 1460, the former Despot Demetrios Palaiologos received lands on the island.[11]

It is related that the Byzantine Greek Saint Joannicius the Great (752–846) in one of his miracles freed the island of Thasos from a multitude of snakes.

Ottoman Era[edit]

Further information: Ottoman Greece

Under the Ottoman Empire, the island was known as Ottoman Turkish: طاشوز Taşöz. A brief revolt against Ottoman rule in 1821, at the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence, led by Hatzigiorgis Metaxas, failed. The island was given by the Sultan Mahmud II to Muhammad Ali of Egypt as a personal fiefdom in the late 1820s, as a reward for Egyptian intervention in the War of Greek Independence (which failed to prevent the creation of the modern Greek state). Egyptian rule was relatively benign (by some accounts Muhammad Ali had either been born or spent his infancy on Thasos) and the island became prosperous, until 1908, when the New Turk regime asserted Turkish control. The island was a kaza (sub-province), lastly of the Sanjak of Drama in the Salonica Vilayet, until the Balkan Wars. On October 20, 1912 during the First Balkan War, a Greek naval detachment claimed Thasos as part of Greece, which it has remained since.

Modern era[edit]

Limenaria in 1950s

During the Axis occupation (1941–1944) Thasos, along with the rest of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, came under Bulgarian control. The Bulgarian government renamed the island "Tasos" and closed its schools as a first step towards forced Bulgarization. The island's mountainous terrain facilitated small-scale resistance activity. With the end of the war and the withdrawal of Axis troops, the island was caught up in the Greek Civil War. Skirmishes and Communist guerilla attacks continued on Thasos until 1950, almost a year after the main hostilities were over on the mainland.

Thasos, the capital, is now informally known as Limenas, or "the port". It is served by ferry routes to and from Kavala and Keramoti. The latter is a port close to Kavala International Airport, and has the shortest possible crossing to the island.

Administration[edit]

Thasos is a separate regional unit of the East Macedonia and Thrace region, and the only municipality of the regional unit.[12] As a part of the 2011 Kallikratis government reform, the regional unit Thasos was created out of part of the former Kavala Prefecture. The municipality, unchanged at the Kallikratis reform, includes a few uninhabited islets besides the main island Thasos. The province of Thasos (Greek: Επαρχία Θάσου) was one of the provinces of the Kavala Prefecture. It had the same territory as the present municipality.[13] It was abolished in 2006.

Geography[edit]

Thasos from space, April 1993

Thasos island is located in the northern Aegean sea approximately 7 km (4 mi) from the northern mainland and 20 kilometres (12 miles) south-east of Kavala, and is of generally rounded shape, without deep bays or significant peninsulas. The terrain is mountainous but not particularly rugged, rising gradually from coast to centre. The highest peak is Ypsario (Ipsario), at 1,205 metres (3,953 feet), somewhat east of centre. Pine forest covers much of the island's eastern slopes.

Historically, the island's population was chiefly engaged in agriculture and stockbreeding, and established villages inland, some of them connected via stairways (known as skalas) to harbors at the shore. The local population gradually migrated towards these shoreline settlements as tourism began to develop as an important source of income. Thus, there are several "paired villages" such as Marion–Skala Maries, with the former inland and the latter on the coast.

Geology[edit]

Geological and Metallogenic map of Thasos Island.

The Island is formed mainly by gneisses, schists and marbles of the Rhodope Massif. Marble sequences corresponding to the Falacron Marbles intercalated by schists and gneisses, are up to 500m thick and are separated from the underlying gneisses by a transition zone about 300 m thick termed the T-zone consisting of alternances of dolomitic and calcitic marbles intercalated by schists and gneisses.

The rocks have undergone several periods of regional metamorphism, to at least upper amphibolite facies, and there was a subsequent phase of retrograde metamorphism. At least three periods of regional deformation have been identified, the most important being large scale isoclinal folding with axes aligned north-west. The T-zone is deformed and is interpreted by some authors as a regional thrust of pre-major folding age. There are two major high angle fault systems aligned north-west and north-east respectively. A large low-angle thrust cuts the gneiss, schist and marble sequence at the south-west corner of the island, probably indicating an overthrusting of the Serbomacedonian Massif onto the Rodope Massif.

The Late Miocene oil-producing Nestos-Prinos basin is located between Thassos island and the mainland. The floor of the basin is around 1,500 m deep off the Thassos coast (South Kavala ridge; Proedrou, 1988) and up to 4.000–5.000 m in the axial sector between Thassos and the mainland. The basin is filled with Late Miocene-Pliocene sediments, including ubiquitously repeated evaporite layers of rock salt and anhydrite-dolomite that alternate with sandstones, conglomerates, black shales, and uraniferous coal measures (Proedrou, 1979, 1988; Taupitz, 1985). Stratigraphically equivalent rocks on the mainland are clastic sediments with coal beds, marine to brackish fluvial units and travertines.

Mining history[edit]

The earliest mining on the island has been dated to around 13,000 BC, when paleolithic miners dug a shaft at the site of the modern-era Tzines iron mine for the extraction of limonitic ochre.[14] Mining for base and precious metals started around the 7th century BC with the Phoenicians, followed in the 4th century by the Greeks, then the Romans. These later mines were both open-cast and underground., mostly to exploit the island's numerous karst hosted calamine deposits for their lead and silver. Gold, copper and iron were also found; the Byzantines quarried marble on the island.

In the early 20th century, mining companies exploited the island's Zinc-lead rich calamine ores, with a yield of around 2 million tonnes, and a processing plant at Limenaria produced zinc oxide. Iron ore was mined on a significant scale from 1954 to 1964, with a yield of around 3 million tonnes. Since 1964, surveys have established the existence of a deep-level zinc-lead deposit, but the only mining activity on the island has been marble quarrying.

Economy[edit]

Shiploading in Limenaria during the 50s

By far the most important economic activity is tourism. The main agricultural products on the island are honey, almonds, olives (famously Throuba olives) and olive oil, as well as wine, sheep, goat herding and fishing. Other industries are lumber and mining which includes lead, zinc and marble, especially in the Panagia area where one of the mountains near the Thracian Sea has a large marble quarry. The marble quarries in the south (in the area of Aliki), now abandoned, were mined during ancient times.

Communities[edit]

Panagia village
View over Limenaria
Traditional village of Theologos

Towns and villages with over 100 inhabitants are:

Historical population[edit]

Year Town Municipality
1981 2,312
1991 2,600
2001 3,140 13,765
2011 3,240 13,770

Beaches[edit]

Small beach near Skala Panagias
  • Skala Prinos,with lots of pines, lying at a several kilometres length. This wonderful beach is ideal for swimming, clean and sandy. In 2004 it has became a Blue Flag beach.
  • Pachis, with clear water and a lot of visitors
  • Rachoni,long beach with a forest
  • Glyadi, with golden sand and shallow sea
  • Skala Potamia and Golden Beach, one of the most clean beaches on the island. Also has a camping site, lots of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.
  • Giola is a natural swimming pool with crystal clear turquoise waters! Giola is located in the village of Astris, a few kilometers from Limenaria and Potos, on the south side of the island. http://ithassos.com/giola-natural-pool-beaches/
  • Saliara, with white sand (also known as Marble beach). http://ithassos.com/saliara-marble-beach/
  • Paradise, Paradise Beach is approximately 23 km from Thassos town via the coastal road that circles the Island. Although not signposted itself there is a signpost for the “Paradise Bar on the Beach” which is visible from the anticlockwise direction (keep an eye in the rear view mirror if travelling clockwise). There is space for a few cars by the main road (5-10mins walk). http://ithassos.com/paradise-beach-thassos/
  • Metalia Beach Thassos: Metalia beach is situated on the foot of a villa at Limenaria. It is a fine sandy beach ideal for children and lies 39 km south west of Limenas, the capital of Thassos. http://ithassos.com/greece-thassos/metalia-beach/
  • Glykadi Beach Thassos: Just 4.5 km north-west of Port Thassos beach is Glikadi. Overlooking Thasopoula, this sandy beach of 150 meters with the blue waters offers relaxation in a lush natural environment. It is organized into umbrellas and sunbeds from a beach bar but no other infrastructure. http://ithassos.com/glykadi-beach-thassos/

Sights[edit]

  • Archaeological Museum of Thasos in Thasos town
  • Polygnotos Vagis Municipal Museum in Potamia
  • Folklore Museum of Limenaria
  • Archangel Michael's Monastery
  • Saint Panteleimon Monastery:it was built in 1843 and became monastery in 1987. According to inhabitants of Thassos, someone wanted to built it in favor of Saint Panteleimon. The workers started the building at a location, but next day when they wanted to continue with the construction, the part they had built was destroyed and their tools were missing. It had happened on following days. One day they saw footprints on the ground and followed them until they founded their tools. Finally they built the monastery at that spot.
  • Monastery of the Assumption
  • Kastro: its foundation year is unknown. This village must have been created during the years of Frankish domination.
  • Krambousa Isle: it can be found across the coast of Skala Potamia. The thick vegetation make it impossible to exlore all parts of it. It is full with spacial wild vegetable called "Krambi". The little church of Saint Daniel is located at the top of the hill. The inhabitants visit this church on the day of the Saint every year.

Notable people[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Papadopoulos S., "Recent Field Investigations in Paleolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age Thasos", International Symposium in Memoriam Mieczislaw Domaradzki, Kazanlak, Archaeological Institute of Sofia, Kazanluk, (in press)
  2. ^ Κουκούλη Χ.- Χρυσανθάκη, "Ανασκαφή Σκάλας Σωτήρος Θάσου", Το Αρχαιολογικό Έργο στη Μακεδονία και Θράκη, 1, ((1987), 1988, 391–406, 2 (1988), 1991, 421–431, 3 (1989), 1992, 507–520, 4 (1990), 1993, 531–545).
  3. ^ Chaidou Koukouli-Chrysanthaki: Πρωτοιστορική Θάσος. Τα νεκροταφεία του οικισμού Κάστρι, Μερος Α και Β, Υπουργείο Πολιτισμού, Δυμοσιέυματα του αρχαιολογικού Δελτίου Αρ. 45, ISBN 960-214-107-7
  4. ^ Agelarakis A., "Reflections of the Human Condition in Prehistoric Thasos: Aspects of the Anthropological and Palaeopathological Record from the Settlement of Kastri". Actes du Colloque International Matières prèmieres et Technologie de la Préhistoire à nos jours, Limenaria, Thasos. The French Archaeological Institute in Greece, 1999. 447–468.
  5. ^ Pausanias, 5.25.12. "The Thasians, who are Phoenicians by descent, and sailed from Tyre, and from Phoenicia generally, together with Thasos, the son of Agenor, in search of Europa, dedicated at Olympia a Herakles, the pedestal as well as the image being of bronze. The height of the image is ten cubits, and he holds a club in his right hand and a bow in his left. They told me in Thasos that they used to worship the same Heracles as the Tyrians, but that afterwards, when they were included among the Greeks, they adopted the worship of Heracles the son of Amphitryon."
  6. ^ Herodotus. Histories, 2.44. "In the wish to get the best information that I could on these matters, I made a voyage to Tyre in Phoenicia, hearing there was a temple of Heracles at that place, very highly venerated. I visited the temple, and found it richly adorned with a number of offerings, among which were two pillars, one of pure gold, the other of smaragdos, shining with great brilliancy at night. In a conversation I held with the priests, I inquired how long their temple had been built, and found by their answer that they, too, differed from the Hellenes. They said that the temple was built at the same time that the city was founded, and that the foundation of the city took place 2,300 years ago. In Tyre I remarked another temple where the same god was worshipped as the Thasian Heracles. So I went on to Thasos, where I found a temple of Heracles, which had been built by the Phoenicians who colonised that island when they sailed in search of Europa. Even this was five generations earlier than the time when Heracles, son of Amphitryon, was born in Hellas. These researches show plainly that there is an ancient god Heracles; and my own opinion is that those Hellenes act most wisely who build and maintain two temples of Heracles, in the one of which the Heracles worshipped is known by the name of Olympian, and has sacrifice offered to him as an immortal, while in the other the honours paid are such as are due to a hero."
  7. ^ AJ Graham,"The Foundation of Thasos", The Annual of the British School at Athens, Vol. 73 (1978), pp. 61-98.
  8. ^ Zafeiropoulou F., A., Agelarakis, “Warriors of Paros”. Archaeology 58.1(2005): 30–35.
  9. ^ Hugh Johnson, Vintage: The Story of Wine pg 39. Simon and Schuster 1989
  10. ^ Agelarakis A., – Y., Serpanos "Auditory Exostoses, Infracranial Skeleto-Muscular Changes and Maritime Activities in Classical Period Thasos Island", Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry, Vol. 10, No. 2, 2010, 45–57.
  11. ^ a b c d Gregory, Timothy E.; Cutler, Anthony (1991). "Thasos". In Kazhdan, Alexander. Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. London and New York: Oxford University Press. p. 2031. ISBN 978-0-19-504652-6. 
  12. ^ Kallikratis reform law text PDF
  13. ^ Detailed census results 1991 PDF (39 MB) (Greek) (French)
  14. ^ Kovkouli et al. 1988.
  15. ^ "Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, page 74 (v. 1)". Ancientlibrary.com. Retrieved 2012-10-26. 
  16. ^ "Theagenes of Thasos". Perseus.tufts.edu. Retrieved 2011-12-04. 

References[edit]

  • Agelarakis A., "Linen Thread Fragment". Ed. Chi. Koukouli-Chrysanthaki. “Proto-Historic Thasos”, Archaeologiko Deltio 2.45 (1992–1993): 803
  • Agelarakis A., "Investigations of Archaeo-Anthropological Nature at the Classical Necropolis of the Island of Thasos between 1979–1996", Archaiologiko Ergo sti Makedonia kai Thraki, 10B (1997): 770–794.
  • Agelarakis A., "On the Anthropological and Palaeopathological Records of a Select Number of Human Individuals from the Ancient Necropolis of Thasos Island". In <Jewelry from Thasian Graves> by Sgourou M., BSA 96 (2001): 355–364.
  • Agelarakis A., "Investigations of Physical Anthropology & Palaeopathology at the Ancient Necropolis of Thasos”, In M. Sgourou, Excavating houses and graves: exploring aspects of everyday life and afterlife in ancient Thasos>, BAR International series 1031 (2002): 12–19.
  • Antje and Günther Schwab: Thassos – Samothraki, 1999, ISBN 3-932410-30-0.
  • N. Epitropou et al.: "The discovery of primary stratabound Pb – Zn mineralization at Thassos Island", L’ Industria Mineraria n. 4, 1982.
  • N. Epitropou, D. Konstantinides, D. Bitzios: "The Mariou Pb – Zn Mineralization of the Thassos Island Greece.", Mineral deposits of the Alps and of Alpine Epoch in Europe ed. by H. J. Echneibert, Spring – Verlag Berlin Heilderberg, 1983.
  • N. Epitropou et al.: "Le mineralizzazioni carsiche a Pb – Zn dell’ isola di Thassos, Grecia.", Mem. Soc. Geol. H. 22, 1981, pp. 139–143.
  • Omenetto P., Epitropou N., Konstantinides D.: "The base metal sulphides of W. Thassos Island in the Geological Metallogenic Frame work of Rhodope and Surrounding Regions.", International Earth Sciences Congress on AEGEAN Regions, 1–6 October 1990, İzmir -Turkey.
  • Epitropou N., Omenetto P., Constantinides D., "Μineralizations a Pb – Zn comparables au type ' Mississippi Valley'. L'example de l'ile de Thassos ( Macedoine, Grece du Nord)", MVT WORKSHOP, Paris, France, 1993.
  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Thasos at Wikimedia Commons