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Cyclades Islands | Sifnos

Sifnos History

The Siphnian (Sifnian) Treasury Frieze in Delphi Sanctuary:
Impressive Photo of the whole of the Frieze, with its original colors partially restored

In antiquity, Sifnos was one of the richest islands, thanks to its gold and silver mines, which were a mixed blessing for the islanders, bringing them both wealth and trouble.  The Sifnians built their public buildings using the famous marble of Paros and made the richest offerings to the Oracle of Delphi.  A geological catastrophe, yet unverified, destroyed the mines and was the reason for the island's decline. 
According to the archaeologists, one of the first settlements of the ancient Cycladic era, as far as Sifnos is concerned, is found in Platys Gialos based on the cemetery, which was discovered at the position Akrotiraki and whose remains could be seen by travelers of the previous century. 
After the fall of Constantinople, Sifnos was granted to the Gozzadini family by the Duke of Naxos, Marco I Sanudo.  In 1307 the Catalans conquered the island.  In 1456 an heiress of this family married into the Gozzadini family, uniting the two aristocratic families of the island.  By paying an annual tribute, the Gozzadinis were able to keep Sifnos, while all the islands around were being occupied by the Turks.  But in 1617, it was their turn to hand over power to the Ottomans. 
Throughout the Byzantine and Ottoman periods the island was famous for its School of Sifnos, an institution of higher education.  It provided the church with a number of its senior figures, and its most famous head teacher took all the boys capable of bearing arms to the Peloponnese in order to fight in the Greek War of Independence. 
During the 1950s, Platys Gialos was one of the most important pottery centers on the island, with 15 out of 45 potterys at the time functioning.  According to researchers, Platys Gialos was the first seaside pottery center.  Until that time, and because of the fear of pirates, this art was developed inland.  Nowadays, there are four potterys functioning in that village, where young people work and continue the tradition of their forefathers.