At the end of the 2nd millennium BC the Ionians spread to the west coast of Asia Minor and occupied the Aegean islands, as well as Ios, which owes its name while its previous known name was Phoenice, from the Phoenicians who also inhabited it. Others connect the name Ios with the Phoenician or Hebrew word "Ion" which means stones.
The prevailing and most correct opinion today states that in ancient times many Ias grew on the island, so it took its name from them as Ios or Nios, as is the corruption of the name. This prevailed and was generalized until today. The only time the island had a different name was during the Turkish occupation, when it was called "Aine" or "Anza".
In ancient times, Zeus Polieus, Athena Polias and Pythian Apollo were worshiped on the island, whose temple was once located where the church of Saint Catherine is today. Ios is still considered the hometown of Homer's mother Klymainis, while the tomb of the great poet is located at Plakotos.
Ios has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Due to its geographical position, it is one of the southernmost islands of the Cyclades and is located at a strategic point on the sea route to Crete and South Asia, it played a decisive role in the development of the Cycladic civilization. The archaeological finds on the hill of Skarkos reveal the existence of a proto-Cycladic settlement on Ios.
In Ios is the tomb of Homer, the most famous poet of antiquity and creator of the epic works Iliad and Odyssey. According to tradition, Homer's mother came from Ios. That is why the poet died on the island. Of course, there is another version according to which Homer did not solve the riddle that the locals put to him, so they killed them. In Plakoto, on the north side of the island, on top of the hill is said to be the tomb of the poet.
The historical course of Ios, in general, was similar to the rest of the islands that belong to the Cyclades. The island of Nios initially received the influence of immigrants from Asia Minor (3200-2700 BC) and then saw the rays of the Minoan civilization (2000-1500 BC) being buried under the lava of the Santorini volcano. Around 1100 BC Dorians and Ionians arrive on the island and in fact the island got its name from the Ionians. Then Ios became a member of the Athenian alliance and at the beginning of 13 AD. century it was conquered by the Venetians, after the Macedonians, Ptolemies and Romans had passed through, with an important period around 1397 AD when the Governor of the island with castle walls, the ruins of which still exist today, in order to protect the inhabitants from wild pirate raids.
Finally, in 1537, Nios falls into the hands of the Turks and a period of heavy taxation begins for the island, like the rest of the Cyclades, under sovereignty. The island continued to suffer from pirate attacks. The Turkish conquerors called the island Little Malta because of the absolute security offered by its natural harbor.
Despite the Turkish rule, the Cyclades enjoyed relative autonomy, and in fact in 1774 they were given special privileges, regarding shipping and trade, with the treaty of Kyutsuk Kainartzi, until 1821, when the Greek Revolution began that led to the liberation of the Nation. In this last period, Spyridon Valletas (1718-1843), son of Io and Philikos, distinguished himself in the Struggle and was in fact the first Minister of Education of the Nation, and a great Benefactor of the island.
Special mention must be made of the greatest epic poet of all time, Homer, who in the 8th century BC. composed the Iliad and the Odyssey. In the area of Plakotos there is his tomb, since the poet breathed his last in Ios, he died in Ios not being able to solve the riddle set by fishermen in the area of Plakotos. His mother Klimenes was born and died in Ios. We also mention an ancient coin, of which only six copies exist, and Homer is depicted on one side, while on the other the word IHTON is inscribed with laurels. Also related is the reference to the month of OMIREON of the Ancient Niotic Calendar, as inscribed on a marble slab located in the Archaeological Museum of Ios.
Editor: Fotini Anastasopoulou