ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES

MINES

ANCIENT MINES

The subsoil of Sifnos consists mainly of schist, gneiss, marble and also of minerals such as argentiferous lead, copper and zinc, which played a critical role in the development of the island since the prehistoric era, as the exploitation of the mineral deposits gave an impulse to the general cultural development, constituting one of the main stages of the transition from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age.

There are two arch-shaped metalliferous zones:

  • One consists of deposits of argentiferous lead and it situated at the northern part of the island and it extends from the north-east towards the south-west, at the locations of Agios Sostis, Agios Silvestros, Vorini, Kapsalo and Xeroxilo.
  • The other one extends from the area of Aï Giannis of Faros towards Apokofto and Aspros Pirgos (White Tower).

At the peninsula of Aï Sostis, it has been proved that the mining activity for the production of zinc started at least at the beginning of the 3rd millennium B.C., which makes this specific mine the oldest silver mine of the world.

EXPLOITATION OF THE MINES OF AGIOS SOSTIS

  • 3rd millennium B.C.: Exploitation of the silver mines of Agios Sostis, Agios Silvestros (or Silivestros), Vorini, Kapsalo and Xeroxilo.
  • Archaic period (700-480      B.C.): Exploitation of the silver mines of Agios Sostis, Agios Silvestros (or Silivestros), Vorini, Kapsalo and Xeroxilo and exploitation of the gold mines of the areas of Aï Giannis of Faros, of Apokofto and of Aspros Pirgos (White Tower).
  • 19th and  20th century A.D.: Extraction of iron from the mines of Agios Sostis, Agios Silvestros  (or Silivestros), Vorini and Kapsalo.

 Source: «SIFNOS, THE CITADEL OF AGIOS ANDREAS», CHRISTINA A. TELEVANTOU, MINISTRY OF CULTURE, 21STEPHORATE OF PREHISTORIC AND CLASSICAL ANTIQUITIES, ATHENS 2008

ANCIENT CITADELS

THE CITADEL OF THE VILLAGE OF KASTRO

Kastro is the old capital of Sifnos. It has been populated uninterruptedly from the prehistoric times (the first houses have been built on the hill in the 3rd millennium B.C.) until today. It is the ancient “asty” mentioned by Herodotus, which flourished in the 6th century B.C., with its Prytaneum, a big temple, the theatre of Dionysus and its luxurious public buildings made of white marble from Paros («Leukofrys Agora»).

The village took its name from the “castle” (in Greek: Kastro) which is formed by its buildings. The village’s form is ellipsoid – since it follows the morphology of the ground -, its character is defensive and it keeps its fortification medieval (Venetian) structural form unalterable. Its houses are built adjoining each other thus forming two defensive circles, the internal one being composed of rich houses for their best protection and the external one of poor houses.

At the top of the hill there are the ruins of the dominating ancient citadel of Kastro (6th century B.C.) that was surrounded by a wall made of sifnian marble, which was the only marble wall of that era in Cyclades and the only one that is still preserved.

The ancient citadel, the ancient columns that are embodied in the latest buildings, the roman sarcophagi lying on the alleys, the six “loggias” (gallery-shaped entrances of the village), the churches of the 16th and the 17th century with their decorated floors etc. make Kastro an open museum.

THE CITADEL OF AGIOS ANDREAS (13th century B.C.)

It is the first organized archeological site of Sifnos, which extends on the plateau of the hill of Agios Andreas (or Aï Drias, as the Sifnians call it) in an area of ten thousand square meters approximately. The excavations carried out in this area, in the 70s-80s, by the Sifnian archeologist Varvara Philippaki and by the archeologist Christina Televantou, from 1997 to 2007, brought to light not only the strong magnificent Mycenaean wall of the citadel but also the urban tissue which includes the big sanctuary, the buildings, the streets, the rainwater management system and many mobile finds. The full emergence of this impressive citadel, after thousands of years, showed in the liveliest way the glory and the prosperity of the island.

The archaeological site on the hill of Agios Andreas, with an Acropolis dating from the 13th century BC and a small modern museum, was presented with an award in 2012 by the organization EUROPA NOSTRA for its exemplary maintenance and presentation of findings «as an excellent example of the preservation of our cultural heritage».

The site of the citadel as well as the exhibition hall that houses the finds of the excavations of the area are open for the public all year round (except Mondays and holidays) from 8:30 to 15:30

Source: «SIFNOS, THE CITADEL OF AGIOS ANDREAS», CHRISTINA A. TELEVANTOU, MINISTRY OF CULTURE, 21STEPHORATE OF PREHISTORIC AND CLASSICAL ANTIQUITIES, ATHENS 2008

THE CITADEL OF AGIOS NIKITAS (6th century b.C)

The citadel of Agios Nikitas is one of the four ancient citadels of the island. On the road that leads to Cheronissos, you will find a rising path leading to the top of the hill of Agios Nikitas after 45 minutes of walking where, next to the homonymous church (Saint Nikitas), you can see parts of the wall of the ancient citadel and the ruins of an ancient tower.

THE CITADEL OF PROPHITIS ILIAS OF TROULAKI (6th century B.C.)

The citadel of Prophitis Ilias of Toulaki is one of the four ancient citadels of the island. On the road that leads to Cheronissos, you will find a rising path leading to the top of the hill of Prophitis Ilias after 35 minutes of walking (463 m.) where you can see the ruins of the ancient citadel.

OTHER ARCHEOLOGICAL SITES

ANCIENT TOWERS (6th – 3rd century B.C.)

During the period of the island’s prosperity (around the 6th century B.C), given the wealth produced by the profits made by the exploitation of the mines, the Sifnians started to create a network of towers all over the island. At first, near the mines and later, all over the island, in arable lands and in strategic places (hilltops and slopes). These fortification and defense constructions were used as observation posts and outposts enabling the communication on and off the island and as refuges for the rural population during unexpected pirate invasions. All the towers of the island were round. They communicated with each other and with the four ancient citadels, exchanging smoke and mirror signals. Today, the archeological service has registered 76 ancient towers in Sifnos, that is more than one tower per square kilometer. Many of those towers are situated in isolated locations and are difficult to access, however there are also many towers that are easily accessible.

The most important of the towers that are still preserved, situated high and are easily accessible are: the White Tower (Aspros Pirgos) in Pantokratoras (6th century B.C.), the Black Tower (Mavros Pirgos) in Exabela (5th century B.C.) and the Tower in Kade (4th century B.C.). Since 2003, two thousand five hundred years after their first use, the local entities and tens of volunteers revive the communication system of the beacon towers every year, on the Sunday of Pentecost.

THE SANCTUARY OF THE NYMPHS IN KORAKIES

At the region of “Korakies”, in Kamares (starting from the aquaduct and quite lower from the Black Cave), there is the “Sanctuary of the Nymphs” with the inscription «ΝΥΦΕΩΝ ΗΙΕΡΩΝ» (“Sanctuary of the Nymphs”) engraved on a rock, on the right side of the entrance of the cave.

THE ANCIENT TUMULUS OF “SOROUDI” (17th -11th century B.C.)

It is a big construction, possibly a Mycenaean arched grave, situated at the location “Soroudi” (at the area of Pantokratoras), which owes its name to the pile of earth (in Greek: soros) of the tumulus. The construction is created above the ground, built on a flat surface. For this reason and in order to hold the pile of earth covering the grave, a cyclopean terraced earthwork has been constructed around its base, which is visible despite the dense vegetation. On the west side of the tumulus, which is the steepest, there are ten steps of a total height of 20, 45 m. The ceiling and part of the vertical walls of this tomb construction, which had been probably despoiled in the ancient times, have collapsed and lie on the spot. The Sifnian archeologist Iakovos Dragatsis found a few roman potsherds in the pile of earth of the tumulus, during an excavation research in 1915-1916. “Soroudi” is an impressive dominating monument, situated in Pounta, which is visible from many places of the area, with a view of the sea and of the Mycenaean citadel of Agios Andreas. It is probably the tomb of some Mycenaean ruler, who had some kind of relation with the sea and for whom they chose this panoramic location at the entrance of the bay of Platis Gialos. Besides, Platis Gialos is the only bay visible from Agios Andreas and was probably the port of the citadel in the Mycenaean period.

Sources: «SIFNOS» MINISTRY FOR THE AEGEAN, ATHENS 1998, (extracts from the text of the archeologist Mrs. Christina Televantou) and «SIFNOS, THE CITADEL OF AGIOS ANDREAS», CHRISTINA A. TELEVANTOU, MINISTRY OF CULTURE, 21ST EPHORATE OF PREHISTORIC AND CLASSICAL ANTIQUITIES, ATHENS 2008

Resource: sifnos.gr