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Serifos

The human presence on the island of Serifos dates back to the 3rd millennium BC, during the Early Cycladic period. There are findings of human habitation during the Mycenaean period. Until the 7th century the island had a monarchical regime and its inhabitants seemed to be Aeolians from Thessaly. Ionians led by Eteoclus arrived to Serifos as well. The residents participated in the Delian League and followed the democratic regime. During the Persian wars, they initially supported the Persians with thirteen triremes, but eventually they sided in 480 BC with the Athenians in the naval Battle of Salamis, sending along with Kythnos and Sifnos a pentikontoros. They also participated in the Battle of Plataea in 479 BC on the side of Athens.

 

Since 363 BC until 308 BC Serifos was under the dominance of the Macedonians, only to come later, until 266 BC, to the hands of the Ptolemies of Egypt. Then it passed again to the Macedonians and in 146 BC it passed aver to the Romans. They destroyed it in 88 BC because of its alliance with the king of Pontus Mithridates VI. Then it was annexed to the province of Asia and became a place of exile for political prisoners.

 

Facilities of early elaboration of copper have been found in Serifos from the mid- 2nd millennium BC Clay kilns have been found in areas of Moutoula the north hillside of Vigla, in Avessalo and in the peninsula of Kefalas. The mining activity seems to have been stopped during classical times and restarted during the Roman period.

 

The arrival of Latins in the Cyclades after the Fourth Crusade resulted in Serifos joining in 1207 together with other islands the Duchy of Naxos, under Marco Sanudo. A quarter of Serifos was given as a fief to the house Micheli (1207-1357), another to the house Giustiniani (1207-1412), half of the island in Gizi (1207-1334 ). Rulers of Serifos also became the Bragadini (1334-1354), the Minnoti (1354-1373), the Adoldoi (1373-1432), and again the Micheli(1432 to 1537 ).

 

In June 1537 it was conquered by Barbarossa and witnessed the looting and enslavement of its inhabitants. Piracy has been a plague for the island, although it acquired self-government with the election of a “commissioner of the public” and a body of elders. After a brief occupation by the Russian fleet during the Orlov movement (1770-1774), Serifos returned to the Ottomans.

 

The island raised the flag of revolution on the 21st May 1821. The Elders Protonotarios George and John Kontes, along with the secretary Lymvaio were the representatives of Serifos to National Assemblies of the rebellious Greeks.

 

In 1861 the first licence for mining operations was given, and in 1869 the Greek Mining Company began the systematic mining of iron on the island positions Mega (or Megalo) Livadi and Koutalas. The deposits passed in 1880 to the French company “Serifos–Spilialeza” In 1887 a third company ofFrench- Greek interests under the name Viar - Sgoutas - Dufour followed. Since 1886 all the mines of Serifos have operated for the interests of the “Serifos – Spilialeza” which was directed by the German mineralogist Emil Grohmann. The latter gained great influence on the life of the island.

 

Harsh working conditions and lack of safety measures in mines led to a big strike on the 7thAugust 1916, when workers refused to load a ship. On August 20th forces arrived on the island in order to stop the strike and the result was bloody clashes, killing workers and policemen. In Megalo Livadi the memorial with the names of the victims recalls nowadays the bloody labour strike.

 

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