Lesvos through the ages PDF Print E-mail

Excavations on Lesvos reveal that the island was already inhabited around 5,000 years before present. Between 1,200 and 1,100 BC, Aeolian Greeks came to the island from Thessaly. They founded the mighty city states (poleis) Mythilini, Mythimma (now; Molyvos), Antissa and Eressos. Trade, mostly overseas, and agriculture were the sources of income. It was also the period of the first start of intensive olive oil production of the island.

Λέσβος - Πολιτισμός

In the 8th century BC, during the high time of the trade, opposite parts of the coast of Asia Minor were colonised and became a kind of second Aeolian home land. Between the 7th and the 6th century BC, the island witnessed its first cultural flourishing period. This was mainly thanks to the statesman Pittakos. He was included in the row of the ‘Seven Wise’ on the ground of his legislation. During this period, the poet Sappho wrote her poems. She started a school to educate high class girls; later, in modern times this became the basis for the word lesbian, after Sappho’s island and inspired by her, often erotic poems addressed to these girls.

 
Λέσβος - Πολιτισμός

 
This was mainly thanks to the statesman Pittakos. He was included in the row of the ‘Seven Wise’ on the ground of his legislation. During this period, the poet Sappho wrote her poems. She started a school to educate high class girls; later, in modern times this became the basis for the word lesbian, after Sappho’s island and inspired by her, often erotic poems addressed to these girls.

The island belonged to the Persian Empire from 546 to 479 BC. After the defeat of the Persians, Lesvos joined with the First Attic Maritime Alliance, against which Athens would revolt some fifty years later. Athens conquered the island. At this occasion, more than 1,000 aristocratic landowners were killed. Their lands were divided between the Attic colonizers.

In the 4th century BC Lesvos came under the flag of Macedonia and Alexander the Great. The island went again through a cultural and economical flourishing period. Theophrastus (372-287 BC), born on Lesvos, became Aristotle’s student and later his successor. Around 315 BC, he wrote one of the earliest lapidaries, or books on minerals and stones. The book mainly deals with stones used for gem engraving. Theophrastus is noted for classifying the stones into male and female species, giving rise to the notion that they were able to breed within the Earth.

The Romans conquered the island in 167 BC. The House of Menander in Mytilini and the aquaduct near Moria originate from this period.

Till the 11th century AD, Lesvos was part of the Byzantine Empire. In this period, the kastro of Mytilini was built. Soon afterwards, however, the island suffered decline till the end of the 11th century. Pirates and Saracenians plundered the island. In 1354 the island became the property of the Venetian family Gattelusi, and it developed into an important trade post in the eastern Mediterranean.

In 1462 the island was conquered by the Turks under Sultan Mehmed the Second. A large part of the population fled, mainly through the Venetian centres. The Turkish occupation (Tourkokratia) lasted till 1912. On November 8th 1912, the long-desired joining to Greece became a fact.

Λέσβος

 

  • English
  • Ελληνικά





The Museum

Lesvos today

Funding

 

 
Home | The Museum | Lesvos today | Lesvos in the Past | Geology of Lesvos | Collections | Links | About this site