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Πέμπτη, 17 Ιανουαρίου 2013

Kos History

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The oldest known residency of Kos goes back to the Bronze age (2300 -2000BC) and was traced to the hill Seragion (today’s old town) where part of a settlement and fortress were found. During the Minoan domination in the Aegean, people settled and populated widely in Kos. Because of the Minoan settlement Kos gained a crucial position in the network of commercial routes to the East. The prosperity and blossoming of the settlement is illustrated in the “New Catalogue” of the Iliada (676-680) where they take part in the Trojan war with a fleet of 30 thirty ships. The references made about Kos during the Iliadic era and other mythological times such as the times of worship of Asclipio on the island by Trikki, may show the pre-Doric settlement in the Pelasgous or Minoan times and the settling of the people of Thessalia in Kos.

Historic Times

In historic times, around the tenth century BC, the Dorians settled on the island and according to Herodotos, they came from Argolida. In ancient times Kos took part in the Doric sixth city, together with the three cities of Rhodes (Lindos, Ialyssos and Camiros) Knido and Alikarnassou which had as their religious centre the temple of Apollo at the Cape of Triopio on the coast of Asia Minor. Stravona’s report about the transfer of the capital of Kos – Astipalia shows that Kos was deserted and so the capital was moved to Isthmioton near Kefalos. However, more recent excavations have shown a thriving city of Kos- Meropida on the hill of Seragion. At the end of the ancient period, Kos took part in the Persian strategy against Greece, but after the defeat of the Persians, Kos became a member Kos Island - Historic Timesof the 1st Athenian Alliance(478BC) Settlement continued during classic times until the establishment of the new capital in 366/365 BC. The city was protected by a strong wall and had roads carved out according to the town planning system. During the 4th century BC the island was under the control of Karia Mansolou and in 322BC was liberated by the generals of Alexander the Great. After Alexander’s death and the establishment of Greek kingdoms, Kos had close ties with Ptolemeos of Egypt.
In 308BC Ptolemeos the second Filadelpos was born in Kos and so Kos was placed under his protection. The island had autonomy and didn’t have to pay tax so it flourished economically and became well known for its cultural events. During this period 242BC immunity rights are established and the festival of Asclipio is held which received visitors from all over the nation. During the Roman period Kos holds a friendly position with the Romans with the exception of the period of the First Mithridatikou War 89-85BC.

Prehistoric to Classical Age

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Kos was inhabited from the very early Bronze Age (2900-2100 BC) as the prehistoric tombs and the findings in Asklupi and in the White Stone cave prove. Pelasgi, Kares and Leleges were the first inhabitants. Phoenicians and Achaeans passed through Kos as well. We can also find relics of the Mycenaean Era or the later Bronze Age (1600-1150 BC). "Karis" and "Meropis" are the ancient names of Kos. Plinios also called it "Nimphea". In the second rhapsody of Iliad, Homer tells us that Kos along with the islands of Nysiros, Kalymnos, Karpathos and Kassos took part in the Trojan War with thirty ships. This was followed by the Dorianization of the island, when, during the 7th and 6th century BC, Kos took part in the Federal Alliance of "Dorian Hexapolis". There is a huge number and variety of ceramics of the Geometric Era, which was brought to light by archeological diggings. The "municipalities", seven in total along with the one of Kos, were formed through the years and the citizens began to prosper. The sailors and merchants that traveled in the Aegean sea, ranked Kos in the same wealth category with the other islands of Asia Minor's coast (Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Rhodes) giving them the name "Makaron Islands".
The Hellenistic Period
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The Hellenistic period is the brightest period in Kos' history. In the creation of the new city (366 BC) a lot of marble monuments were built such as the sanctuary of Hercules, Pandimou and Pondias Aphrodite, the Market, the Gymnasium, the Stadium, the Theatre,the Altar of Dionysus and the Acropolis. The relics of these monuments were brought to light by the diggings of Italian archeologists. King Ptolomeos II of Egypt was born in Kos at this time. He adored Greek literature and was know as the Philadelphos. During the Hellenistic period, the island thrived economically and culturally. Kos was not only rich in agricultural and livestock products but also started developing its export trade in wine, olive oil, fruit, perfumes, silk and wool.
Kos prospered during the late Hellenistic period. Elegant buildings such as the conservatory, the Casa Romana, the Vespasiani ("Nimphea"), the Thermes with it's rich mosaics, all demonstrate the luxury in which the citizens of the island lived. The harbour of Kos never stopped being the centre of transit trade.

Early Christian - Byzantine Period

The first mention of the early Christian period in Kos is connected to the visit of the disciple Paul which is mentioned in the book of Paul. This was recorded in the minutes of the first Ecumenical Synod of Nice in 325 and was signed by the bishop of Kos Melifron. The big earthquake in 469AD signaled the change in the structure of architecture from the Roman times to Christian times. However, the next earthquake was very strong in 554AD and destroyed the city of Kos.This made it difficult for the city to get back to its former glory. Life continued along the same lines till the Arabic Invasion in the middle of the 7th century. Until the 7th century Kos remained a member of the Province of the Islanders whose capital Kos - Early Christian Byzantine Periodwas Rhodes. From the middle of the 7th century Kos belonged to the Kibireoton or Aegean or Samos. In the second half of the 11th century we are informed that Nikiforos Melissinos, husband of Evdokia who was the sister of the emperor Alex the first Komninou resided in Kos where he owned a lot of land. At the same time a large number of royal related people came to Kos like Christodoulou who founded the monastery of Theotokou in Old Pyli. Christodoulou exchanged the land in Kos with land in Patmos where he founded the monastery of St John Theologou. From the 11th century till the beginning of the 14th century Kos had many administrative changes up until the occupation by the Knights of Ioannites.

Knighthood Period 1309 - 1337 - 1522

During its domination in Kos (1337-1522) the Battalion of the Knights of Saint John fortified and upgraded the Byzantine network of fortresses on the island. In those times Kos was an independent unit to which Kalymnos and Leros belonged to. The command of the Knights was carried out by few commanding officers but they offered sufficient protection from the attacks of the pirates and the Muslim empire. According to the Knights records which can be found in Malta today, the commanding officer’s responsibility was to ensure the safety of the residents, the enforcement of justice, secure ownership of land and also protect the residents from arbitrariness of military power. One of the most important tasks of the military was the preservation of the castles and fortresses. Today we can still see eleven different fortresses on the island. The most well-known being the Castle of Old Pyli, and the Castle of Andimahia.

The Battalion of the Ioannite Knights (Knights of Saint John)

The centuries that followed were marked by the presence of foreign conquerors. After a short occupation of the island by the Venetians and the Genoans, Kos came under the control of the Ioannite knights in 1314.The Order was a force to be reckoned with, with its own governors, who were constituted by the Council of the knights of Rhodes. At the same time Kos was attacked by the Turks. The knights however successfully managed to repulse them for a time largely due to the fortifications of the Perimeter Wall and the Castle of Nerazia (city), the Castle of Antimachia, which was unsuccessfully attacked - mostly in 1457, the Castle of old Pyli and the Castle of Kefalos. Even today the restorations to the damage done by the Turkish attacks of the two most important castles, those of Nerazia and Antimachia, are clearly visible.

The Turkish Domination

On January 5th 1523 the island was finally conquered by the Turks. Rhodes and Kos in contrast with other islands of Dodecanese suffered from heavy taxes. Kos became a province (kaimakamliki) of Rhodes. The people of Kos rallied round the Archbishop, who officiated under the direct jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Because of the outbreak of the Greek Revolution, the people of Kos were made to pay dearly. On July 11th 1821 the Turkish hung a lot of priests under the historical plane tree of Hippocrates in retaliation. According to a written testimony of the French traveler Pouqueville, the Turks decapitated 900 Christians. The citizens of Kos suffered a lot in August 1824 during the naval battle of Gerodas. It was only after 1838 that they were granted a few basic human and political rights. The most important sector of the economy of the citizens during the Turkish domination was agriculture.Since the 15th century and especially after taking over Constantinoupoli in 1453, the Ottomans tried to take over from the Knights in the Dodecanesse. Initially they asked for a tribute tax, after the refusal by the Knights to pay,they began systematic attacks on the island, forcing the residents to leave many times and seek refuge in the castles. After the take over of Rhodes by the Ottomans in 1522, Kos along with other islands of the Dodecanesse pass into the Sultans hands. The economy of the island depends on agriculture and commerce from the harbour. The Castle Neratzia is a safe commercial stop for ships.

Italian Era

In 1912 the Italians take over the island and declare themselves liberators of the Greek people from the Ottoman’s empire. Their arrival was met by hope and expectations that they would ensure the islands safety and independence and its union with the rest of Greece. However, even from the early days of their arrival and especially after the peace treaty on the 18 October 1912 between the Italian State and the Ottoman Empire, their intentions were very different to what the Greeks expected. The Italians acquired legal ownership titles to the island, they enforced their own system of command and started carrying out many public works. During the period of 1923-1943 they started a wide programme of Italianising the Dodecanese under the auspices of the fascist government. The government intervened in education and on religious subjects. One of the most important projects the Italians undertook was the re-building of the new city of Kos after the catastrophic earthquake in 1933. From a typical medieval island, Kos became a modern well-planned metropolis of the East.

The Italian Domination - German Domination

On May 20th 1912 the Italians conquered Kos. The inhabitants welcomed them as their liberators. Soon they found out that their promise of a short occupation of the Dodecanese was insincere. The answer to the ulterior motive of the Italians was vigorous and included conjunctive resolutions with Greece. After the treaty of Lozane the total Italian Domination of the Dodecanese was consolidated and the inhabitants of those islands were considered Italian citizens with singular citizenship. Kos became vice - governorship (Reggenza) and was under the jurisdiction of the governor (Governatore) of Rhodes. In all sectors (language, education, religion, economy etc.) there was a sweeping program of fascist italicisation of the citizens. The people of Kos, being Greek, naturally resisted. After the disastrous earthquake on April 23rd 1933 the new city of Kos was rebuilt by the Italians. The archeologists dug up and repaired a lot of monuments.
A large number of sculptures of the Classical, Hellenistic and Roman era are kept and exhibited at the archeological museum, which is at Eleftherias square. When the 2nd World War was declared, many volunteers took part in the "Dodecanese's Regiment". The Dodecanese Regiment fought with the Army of Central Macedonia (Macedonia of course referring to the original and true Macedonia of Greece and not FYROM or Skopje which has usurped the name in recent times) against the Germans. After the Italian truce (03.09.1943) there was a landing of a small English force on the island, which was accepted by the Italians in order to face a potential German attack. On October 3rd 1943 the island was conquered by German troops. A new period of terrorism and brutality began.

German - English Invasion, Union

Kos’s future was connected directly with the developments of the 2nd World War. After Musolini’s defeat by the Germans in 1943, German soldiers arrived in Kos and so started the hard Germanoccupation of Kos, which ended in 1945 with the surrender of Germany. Kos initially was passed on to the English on 8th May 1945. The British command was based in Rhodes and had separated the Dodecanese into six areas. The intentions of the English were to help the Dodecanese during this transitional stage and make it as peaceful as possible to get back in to the normal rhythm of life. In 1946 talks began about uniting with the mainland Greece. On the 2nd May 1946 we had the first local elections. On 31st March 1947 the Brigadier A.S.Parker handed over the Dodecanese to the head of Greek command, Admiral Periklis Ioannidis and on the 7th March 1948 the official union ceremony took place.

The English Milit. Command - The Greek Milit. Command – Integration

On May 9th 1945, after the signing of the protocol of Simi, which was about the unconditional surrender of the Dodecanese to the Allies, the English took over full authority in Kos from the Germans. The local authorities were re-established.The Greek schools, which were closed since 1938, reopened.The people were liberated from the suffering caused by Italian Fascism and German Nazism. Although the English coveted the occupation of the Dodecanese, promoting the idea of autonomy under the British Crown, the decision of the Foreign Ministers of the Great Powers in Paris (27.06.1946) gave an end to the English occupation by granting these islands to Greece. That decision was approved at the peace conference again in Paris (10.02.1947) and on May 31st 1947 the Greek Armed Forces took over the administration of the island from the English. The official festive celebration of the unification with Greece was on March 7th 1948.

Hippocrates - The Father of Medicine
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Hippocrates is considered by scientists to be the founder of medicine. He may have been the most important doctor of the ancient times and the best representativeof the Medical School of Kos. He was also a profound philosopher and humanitarian. He was born in Kos in 460 BC and was the son of the doctor Irakleida and Fenareti. According to tradition he was an Asclipiadi and the 20th grandson of Hercules on his mothers side and the 18th grandson of Asclipios on his fathers side. His sons Drakon and Thessalos and his son in law Polubus continued the medical tradition of the family. Following his father’s profession, he studied medicine at the Asclipio school of medicine in Kos. He studied the patients records and therapy methods. He had as teachers the paediatrician Irodiko from Silimbria and the philosophers Gorgia, Prodiko and Dimokrito. At a young age he left Kos and worked as a doctor in Thaso, Thraki and Thessalia.
Pausania the traveler mentions that at the ancient temple of Apollo in Delfous, ther is a copper skeleton which was donated by Hippocrates. Soon his reputation spread all over Greece. It is said he helped the Athenians during the period of the great plague of the Peloponissos war. According to tradition he reached the gates of the Persian King Artaxerxi but then refused to offer his services. He died of old age near Larissa. Up until the 2nd century AD on the banks of Piniou there was a sign showing his grave. One of the biographers wrote that for many years bees nested on his grave and the honey which was considered therapeutic was used by mothers to help their children. Studies considered to belong to Hippocrates and the Medical School of Kos are around 60 volumes. The most important are: Aphorism, Diet related to illness, The Prognostics, Head injuries.


According to the most popular myth, Asclepius was the son of Apollo and Koronida, daughter of the King of Thesallia Fleyia. Koronida fell in love with Ishi and so Apollo ordered her death from his sister Artemis. Apollo saved the infant Koronida was carrying, he took it to Pylio and entrusted its upbringing to either Centaur Hirona or the healer God Magniton Hirona. Here the child was taught medicine but when Zeus found out he had resurrected the dead and so went against the law of nature, he ordered his death by striking him with lightening. And so he died as a human before becoming a God and was connected to worshipping heroes. He had many children with his wife Ipioni, Podalerio, Mahaona and Telesforo who all became great doctors. He also had Igeia, Egli (the sparkling) Iaso and Akeso (who cured) and Panacea (who cured everything). Asclepius was considered the protector of medicine and health. Worship of him started in Trikki (Trikala) and spread in the 5th and 4th century BC all over GreKos - Asclepiusece. However in Kos in the 3rd and 2nd century BC he was considered one of the most worshiped public personas of the time. His clinics, the Asclepians, were usually established in open areas with woods and fresh water, which greatly helped in curing patients. The most famous clinic was situated in Epidaurus while the first to be opened was in his birthplace Trikki. The Asclepio in Kos seems to have been opened in the 4th century BC. At these places of worship, patients were medically examined in detail by the priests and then were given cleansing and sacrifices were made. According to the traditional religious therapy, a God appears in the patients dream and during his sleep the God would cure him of his worries and illnesses. In return the patient had to sacrifice a rooster. Symbols of the God were the snake which represented periodical renewal, which heals by touch, the walking cane and a cup full of medicine, the dog which symbolizes chthonic divinity and the navel which connects Asclepius to his father Apollo.

Mythical Name of Kos

Other Titans such as Phoebus, Koios and his brother Kinnos, also sought refuge on the Isle of Kos. Kinnos even named it after himself, "Kinnis". Mythology links the island with
probably the most famous of all Ancient Greek heroes, the invincible demi-god, Hercules.

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