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Chios as seen from space, in June 1996
Chios as seen from space, in June 1996
Nomos Chiou.png
Coordinates: 38°24′N 26°01′E / 38.4°N 26.017°E / 38.4; 26.017
Island chain: North Aegean
Area: 842.289 km² (325 sq.mi.)
Highest mountain: Pelineon Oros (1,297 m (4,255 ft))
Greece Greece
Periphery: North Aegean
Prefecture: Chios
Capital: Chios
Population: 51,936 (as of 2001)
Density: 62 /km² (160 /sq.mi.)
Postal code: 82x xx
Area code: 227x0
License code: ΧΙ

Chios (Greek: Χίος, pronounced /ˈçio̞s/; alternative transliterations Khíos and Híos) is the fifth largest of the Greek islands, situated in the Aegean Sea, seven kilometres (five miles) off the Asia Minor coast. The island is separated from Turkey by the Chios Strait. The island is noted for its strong merchant shipping community, its unique mastic gum and its medieval villages. The eleventh century monastery of “Nea Moni”, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located on the island.

"Chios" is also the name of the island's main town and administrative centre, although locals refer to it as "Hora" ("Χώρα" literally means land or country, but usually the name given to the capital or a settlement at the highest point of a Greek island). Administratively the island forms a separate prefecture (nomós- νομός) within the North Aegean Periphery.

Known as "Ofioussa" (having snakes) and "Pityoussa" (having pine trees) in antiquity, during the medieval age the island was ruled by a number of external powers and has been also known as Scio (Genoese), Chio (Italian) and Sakız (صاقيز —Ottoman Turkish). The capital has also been called "Castro" or "Kastron" (Καστρον; meaning castle).



Chios island is approximately crescent or kidney shaped, 50 km long from north to south, 29 km at its widest, and covers an area of 842 km2 (325 sq. miles). The terrain is principally mountainous and arid, with a ridge of mountains running through the spine of the island. The largest of these, "Pelineon" (1297 metres or 4260 ft) and "Epos" (1188 metres or 3900 ft), are situated in the north of the island. The centre of the island is divided between east and west by a range of smaller peaks, known as "Provatas".

East Coast

Midway up the east coast lies the main population centres, the main town of Chios and the regions of Vrontados and Kambos. Chios Town, with a population of 32,400, is built around the island's main harbour and medieval castle. The current castle, with a perimeter of 1400 m, was principally constructed during the time of Venetian and Ottoman rule; although remains have been found dating settlements there back to 2000 B.C. The town was substantially damaged by an earthquake in 1881 and only partially retains its original character.

North of Chios Town lies the large suburb of Vrontados (population 4,500), which lays claim as the birthplace of Homer. The suburb lies in the Omiroupoli municipality, and its connection to the poet is supported by an archaeological site known traditionally as "Teacher's Rock" (Δασκαλóπετρα).

Directly south of Chios Town lies the island's airport and the region of Kambos (Κάμπος, "plain"), a large fertile plain noted for its stone mansions and walled orchards. At the southern edge of the Kambos plain lies the town of Thymiana (Θυμιανά). Thymiana is noted as the sole source of a beige-burgundy two-tone sandstone used both in the local mansions and much of the town itself. Inland lie a number of villages rising up into the central mountains culminating with the village of Ayios Georgios Sykoussis perched at the peak dividing east from west. Along the coast lies Karfas (Καρφάς), a large sandy beach, which along with the nearby village of Ayia Ermioni (Άγια Ερμιόνη) is now the main tourist centre with a number of large and small hotels.

Southern Region

The south of the island is noted for the Mastichochoria (Μαστιχοχώρια, literally: Mastic Villages), the six villages of Mesta (Μεστά), Pyrgi (Πυργί), Olυmpi (Ολύμποι), Kalamoti (Καλαμωτń), Vessa (Βέσσα), and Elata (Ελάτα), which together have controlled the production of mastic gum in the area since the Roman period. The villages, built between the 14th and 16th centuries, have a carefully designed layout with fortified gates and narrow streets to protect against the frequent raids by marauding pirates. Between Chios Town and the Mastichochoria lie a large number of historic villages including Armolia (Αρμόλια), Myrmighi (Μυρμήγκι), and Kalimassia (Καλλιμασιά). Along the east coast are the fishing villages of Kataraktis (Καταρράκτης) and to the south Nenita (Νένητα).

The south coast is sparsely populated with only two populated areas; the modern bay of Komi and the ancient village of "Emporio", inhabited since 1800 BC, and the site of the black volcanic beach of "Mavra Volia" believed to have been created by the explosion of Santorini island in 1600 BC.

West Coast

The west coast, between the deep natural harbour of Limenas at the south and the town of Vrontados at the north, forms a crescent shaped series of almost uninhabited rocky bays. The nearest population centres being the two hillside villages of Lithi and Sidirounta, while further inland lie the villages of Elata, Vessa, Avgonyma and the deserted village of Anavatos. On the west coast there still stands a system of stone beacons that were built at regular intervals to signal the approach of ships and warning the islanders against invasions by pirates.

Panoramic view of Chios Town

Northern Region

The north of the island contains two major villages: Volissos on the west coast, and Kardamyla on the east. Further to the north, are three villages where cherries are grown—Amades, Viki and Kambia. In June Kambia holds an annual Cherry Festival—"Yiortí ton Kerrasión". Kambia holds several festivals during the summer months. Also located in the northern region is the island's tallest mountain, Mount Pelineon, at 1,297 metres (4,255 ft).

Spartounda and Fyta are a few miles before Kambia. In the village of Fyta stands a watchtower dating back to the late 16th century, the time of the Genoese occupation.

The village of Kourounia lies 20 kilometres (12 mi) north of Volissos in the northwestern part of the island. Next to Kourounia is the village of Egrigoros.


Monastery of Nea Moni of Chios

Directly in the centre of the island, between the villages of Avgonyma to the west and Karyes to the east, lies the 11th century monastery of Nea Moni, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The monastery was lavishly built with funds gifted by the Byzantine Emperor Constantine IX, after three monks, living in caves nearby, had petitioned him while he was in exile on the island of Mytilene. The monastery had substantial estates attached, with a thriving community until the massacre of 1822. It was further damaged during the 1881 earthquake.[1] In 1952, due to the shortage of monks, Nea Moni was converted to a convent. It is said that when the last nun living in Nea Moni dies, the convent will once again be transformed into a monastery.[citation needed]

Further south is the verdant region of Kambochoria. This is a collection of medieval villages (Halkios, Vavili, Vassileoniko, Ververato, Dafnonas, and Zifias) with a combined population of about 3,000 and an agricultural economy. In this region grows four varieties of wild tulips.

West of the Kambochoria on the central ridge of the island lies the 16th century village of Agios Geórgios Sikousis. The village is situated 400 m above sea level, strategically overlooks both sides of the island, and was previously fortified with both wall and tower.


The island's climate is warm and moderate, categorised as Temperate, Mediterranean(Csa), with modest variation due to the stabilising effect of the surrounding sea. Average temperatures normally range from a summer high of 27° to a winter low of 11° in January, although, temperatures of over 40°C or below freezing can sometimes be encountered.

Rainfall while usually plentiful, varies greatly both throughout the year and between years. Rain is rare during the summer months, but the winters are changeable and wet. Sunshine is plentiful, as is typical of the Eastern Mediterranean, with almost no cloud cover in the summer months. Average humidity varies from 75% in winter to 60% in summer.

The island normally experiences steady breezes (average 3–5 m/s) throughout the year, with winds direction predominantly northerly ("Etesian" Wind—locally called the "Meltemi") or south westerly (Sirocco).

Climate data for Chios, Greece
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Average high °C (°F) 11
Average low °C (°F) 5
Precipitation mm (inches) 100


According to the 2001 census, Chios Prefecture (including the smaller islands of Oinousses and Psara) has a permanent resident population of 51,936, with more than 97 percent living on the main island.

A large number of Chians moved to urban centres on the Greek mainland. The island historically has always had a significant diaspora abroad, notably in London, New York, Montreal and Australia. During Orthodox Christian celebrations and the summer season, a twofold increase is not unusual for the island's inhabitants.


The local merchant shipping community transports several locally grown products including mastic, olives, figs, wine, mandarins and cherries.


16th century map of Chios by Ottoman Admiral Piri Reis.

Pre-historic Period

Archaeological research on Chios has found evidence that the island has been inhabited since at least the Neolithic era. The primary sites of research for this period, have been cave dwellings at Hagio(n) Galas, in the north, and a settlement and accompanying necropolis in modern-day Emporeio at the far south of the island. The lack of information on this period however, cannot be overstated and theories on the size and duration of these settlements have not been well established.

The British School of Athens excavated the Emporeio site in 1952–1955, and most of our current information comes from these digs.[3] The Greek Archaeological Service (G.A.S.) has been excavating periodically on Chios since 1970, though much of their work on the island remains unpublished.

The noticeable uniformity in the size of houses at Emporeio is what primarily drives scholar's theory that there may have been no serious social distinction during the Neolithic on the island, the inhabitants instead all benefiting from agricultural and livestock farming.[4]

It is also widely held by scholars that the island was not occupied by humans during the Middle Bronze Age (2300–1600), though researchers have suggested recently that the lack of evidence that exists during this period may only demonstrate the lack of excavations on Chios and the northern Aegean.[5]

By at least the eleventh century BC the island was ruled by a kingdom/chiefdom, and the subsequent transition to aristocratic (or possibly tyrannic) rule occurred sometime over the next four centuries. Future excavations may reveal more information about this period.[6] Ninth-century Euboean and Cypriote presence on the island is attested by ceramics, while a Phoenician presence is noted at Erythrae, the traditional competitor of Chios on the mainland.[7]

Classical Period

Pherecydes, native to the Aegean, wrote that the island was occupied by the Leleges,[8] aboriginal Greeks themselves reported to be subject to the Minoans on Crete.[9] They were eventually driven out by invading Ionians.

Chios was one of the original twelve member states of the Ionian League. As a result, Chios, at the end of the 7th century BC, was one of the first cities to strike or mint coins, establishing the sphinx as its specific symbol. A tradition it maintained for almost 900 years.

By the fifth to fourth centuries BC, the island had grown to an estimated population of over 120,000 (two to three times the estimated population in 2005), and based on the huge necropoli at the main city of Chios, the asty, it is thought the majority lived in that area.[10] Now a powerful Greek city-state, Chios was the last member of the Delian League to revolt.

Hellenistic Period

In the decades immediately preceding Macedon's domination of the Greek city-states, Chios was home to a school of rhetoric which Isocrates had opened,[11] as well as a faction aligned with Sparta. After the Battle of Leuctra, supporters of the Lacedaemonians were exiled. Among the exiled were Damasistratus and his son Theopompus, who had received instruction from the school and went on to study with Isocrates in Athens before becoming a historian.[citation needed]

Reproduction of Chios Sphinx emblem.

Theopompus moved back to Chios with the other exiles in 333 BC after Alexander had invaded Asia Minor and decreed their return,[12] as well as the exile or trial of Persian supporters on the island. Theopompus was exiled again sometime after Alexander's death and took refuge in Egypt.[13]

During this period, the island also had become the largest exporter of Greek wine, which was noted for being of relative high quality (see Chian wine). Chian amphoras, with a characteristic sphinx emblem and bunches of grape have been found in nearly every country that the ancient Greeks traded with from as far away as Gaul, Upper Egypt and Eastern Russia.[14]

Roman Period

During the Third Macedonian War, thirty-five vessels allied to Rome, carrying about 1,000 Galatian troops, as well as a number of horses, were sent by Eumenes II to his brother Attalus.

Leaving from Elaea, they were headed to Phanae, planning to disembark from there to Macedonia. However, Perseus's naval commander Antenor intercepted the fleet between Erythrae (on the Western coast of Turkey) and Chios.

According to Livy,[15] they were caught completely off-guard by Antenor. Eumenes' officers at first thought the intercepting fleet were friendly Romans, but scattered upon realizing they were facing an attack by their Macedonian enemy, some choosing to abandon ship and swim to Erythrae. Others, crashing their ships into land on Chios, fled toward the city.

The Chians however closed their gates, startled at the calamity. And the Macedonians, who had docked closer to the city anyway, cut the rest of the fleet off outside the city gates, and on the road leading to the city. Of the 1,000 men, 800 were killed, 200 taken prisoner.'

After the Roman conquest Chios became part of the province of Asia.

Middle Ages

The fine oil painting of The Massacre at Chios by Eugène Delacroix. The costumes and the scenery are entirely authentic. This and the works of Lord Byron did much to draw the attention of mainland Europe to the catastrophe that had taken place on Chios (1824, oil on canvas, 419 × 354 cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris).

After the permanent division of the Roman Empire in 395 AD, Chios was for six centuries under the rule of the Byzantine Empire. This came to an end when the island was briefly held (1090–97) by Çaka Bey, a Turkish emir in the region of Smyrna during the first expansion of the Turks to the Aegean coast.[16] However, the Turks were driven back from the Aegean coast by the First Crusade, and the island reverted to Byzantine rule.

This relative stability was ended by the sacking of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade (1204) and during the turmoil of the 13th century the island ownership was constantly affected by the regional power struggles.

After the Fourth Crusade, the Byzantine empire was divided up by the Latin emperors of Constantinople, with Chios nominally becoming a possession of the Republic of Venice. However, defeats for the Latin empire resulted in the island reverting to Byzantine rule in 1225.

Genoese period (1261-1566)

The Byzantine rulers had little influence and through the treaty of Nymphaeum, authority was ceded to the Republic of Genoa (1261).[17] At this time the island was frequently attacked by pirates and by 1302–1303 was a target for the renewed Turkish fleets. To prevent Turkish expansion, the island was reconquered and kept as a renewable concession, at the behest of the Byzantine emperor Andronicus II, by the Genovese Benedetto I Zaccaria (1304), then admiral to Philip of France. Zaccaria installed himself as ruler of the island, in the short-lived Lordship of Chios. His rule was benign and effective rule remained in the hands of the local Greek landowners. Beneto Zacharia was followed by his nephew (Benedetto II) and then son (Martino). They attempted to turn the island towards the Latin and Papal powers, and away from the predominant Byzantine influence. The locals, still loyal to the Byzantine Empire, responded to a letter from the emperor and, despite a standing army of a thousand infantrymen, a hundred cavalrymen and two galleys, expelled the Zacharia family from the island (1329) and dissolved the fiefdom.[18]

Local rule was brief. In 1346, a Chartered company or Maona (the "Maona di Chio e di Focea") was set up in Genoa to reconquer and exploit Chios and the neighbouring town of Phocaea in Asia Minor. Although the islanders firmly rejected an initial offer of protection, the island was invaded by a Genoese Fleet, lead by Simone Vignoso, and the castle besieged. Again rule was transferred peacefully, as on 12 September the castle was surrendered and a treaty signed with no loss of privileges to the local landowners as long as the new authority was accepted.

The Genoese, being interested in profit rather than conquest, controlled the trade-posts and warehouses, in particular the trade of mastic, alum, salt and pitch. Other trades such as grain, wine oil and cloth and most professions were run jointly with the locals. After a failed uprising in 1347, and being heavily outnumbered (less that 10% of the population in 1395), the Latins maintained light control over the local population, remaining largely in the town and allowing full religious freedom. In this way the island remained under Genoese control for two centuries.

By the early 15th century, Asia Minor and the surrounding islands had fallen under Ottoman rule, however the Genoese families managed to maintain control over the island through the payment of a tribute to the Sultan. By the 16th century, as Genoese power waned, trade with Genoa had decreased and the local rulers become assimilated into the local population.

This largely independent rule of Genoese families continued until 1566, when, with tensions rising, the Sultan decided that the island could potentially be used as a base for Western attacks on Constantinople. The island was invaded by Ottoman troops and absorbed into the Ottoman Empire.

Turkish period

During the Ottoman rule, the government and tax gathering again remained in the hands of Greeks and the Turkish garrison was small and inconspicuous.[19] Chios town itself however, was ethnically segregated, with the castle (Kastro) barred to the native Greeks and inhabited by Turks and Jews.

As well as the Latin and Turkish influx, documents record a small Jewish population from at least 1049 AD.[20] The original Greek (Romaniote) Jews, thought to have been brought over by the Romans, were later joined by Sephardic Jews welcomed by the Ottomans during the Iberian expulsions of the 15th century.

The mainstay of the island's wealth was the mastic crop. Chios was able to make a substantial contribution to the imperial treasury while at the same time maintaining only a light level of taxation. The Ottoman government regarded it as one of the most valuable provinces of the Empire.[21]

Modern Period

Nikiphoros Lytras, "The blowing up of the Nasuh Ali Pasha's flagship by Kanaris", 143×109 cm. Averoff Gallery.

When the Greek War of Independence broke out, the island's leaders were reluctant to join the revolutionaries, fearing the loss of their security and prosperity. However, in March 1822, several hundred armed Greeks from the neighbouring island of Samos landed in Chios. They proclaimed the Revolution and launched attacks against the Turks, at which point islanders decided to join the struggle.

Ottomans landed a large force on the island consequently and put down the rebellion. The Ottoman massacre of Chios expelled, killed, or enslaved five sixths of the 120,000 Greek inhabitants of the island.[22] It wiped out whole villages, and affected the valuable Mastichochoria, the mastic growing villages in the south of the island. It triggered negative public reaction in Western Europe, as can be seen in the art of Delacroix, and in the writing of Lord Byron and Victor Hugo.

Further misfortune struck the island in 1881, when an earthquake, estimated as 6.5 on the Richter scale, damaged a large portion of the island's buildings and resulted in great loss of life (reports of the time spoke of 5,500–10,000 fatalities).

Chios rejoined the rest of independent Greece after the First Balkan War (1912), however it was further affected by the population exchanges after the Greco–Turkish War of 1919–1922, the incoming Greek refugees settling in the, previously Turkish, Kastro and in new settlements hurriedly built south of Chios Town.

The Greek Navy liberated Chios in November 1912 in a hard fought but brief amphibious operation. Turkey recognized Greece's annexation of Chios and the other Aegean islands by the London Treaty of 1913.

During World War II, the island was occupied by the Germans (1941–44), resulting in severe deprivation for the inhabitants. In 1943, the local Government warned the dozen Jewish families residing in Chios that the Gestapo had orders to arrest them all and take them to Germany. Some families heeded the warning and were smuggled out of the Island. The remainder were taken by the Gestapo and nothing more is known of their fate. (Most of the Jews had fled the island during the Turkish attack of 1822, and subsequent earthquake 1881.)

Today, the island has perhaps the highest per capita income of any "nomos" (prefecturate) of Greece thanks to the fact the Chians own roughly fifty percent of the Greek merchant marine or about 12% of the world's merchant marine and to the presence of large Chian communities in London and New York which maintain strong ties with the island.[citation needed] Tourism, other than visiting diaspora Chians, is a negligible factor in the island's economy. Chios is home to a Greek ship-owning fraternity, including the families of Livanos, and Chandris, were from the island.[citation needed]


Detail of mosaic from Nea Moni, a World Heritage Site.

Town twins

Chios has been twinned with the city of Genoa, Italy Italy since 1985.[24]

Notable natives and inhabitants

See also


  1. ^ 1881 Earthquake
  2. ^ "Chios". Retrieved 6 February 2009. 
  3. ^ Boardman, John Excavations in Chios, 1952–1955: Greek Emporio (London : British School of Archaeology at Athens; Thames and Hudson, 1967), cf. also Hood, Sinclair Excavations in Chios, 1938–1955: prehistoric Emporio and Ayio Gala (London : British School of Archaeology at Athens: Thames and Hudson, 1981-) ISBN 0500960178
  4. ^ Merouses, Nikos Chios. Physiko periballon & katoikese apo te neolithike epoche mechri to telos tes archaiothtas. (Chios. Natural Environment & Habitation from the Neolithic Age to the end of Antiquity) pg. 80. Papyros, 2002
  5. ^ Merouses 2002 ch. 4
  6. ^ Merouses 2002 ch. 5, sect. 1
  7. ^ I.S. Lemos, The Protogeometric Aegean 2002:240, and Euboean ceramics in the Archeological Museum, noted by Robin Lane Fox, Travelling Heroes in the Epic Age of Homer, 2008:60 note 59.
  8. ^ Strabo 14.1.3
  9. ^ Herodotus 1.171
  10. ^ Merouses 2002 ch. 5, sect. 3
  11. ^ Cicero, De Oratore, 2, 13.22
  12. ^ A translation of the decree can be viewed online
  13. ^ Anthon, Charles A Manual of Greek Literature, p.251, 1853
  14. ^ Hugh Johnson, Vintage: The Story of Wine pg 41. Simon and Schuster 1989
  15. ^ Livy, 44.28
  16. ^ Brownworth, Lars (2009) Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western Civilization, Crown Publishers, ISBN 978-0307407955: ". . . the Muslims captured Ephesus in 1090 and spread out to the Greek islands. Chios, Rhodes, and Lesbos fell in quick succession." p. 233.
  17. ^ William Miller, "The Zaccaria of Phocaea and Chios. (1275–1329.)" The Journal of Hellenic Studies, Vol. 31, 1911 (1911), pp. 42–55; doi:10.2307/624735.
  18. ^ Arbel, Benjamin, Bernard Hamilton, and David Jacob. Latins and Greeks in the Eastern Mediterranean After 1204. ISBN 0714633720.
  19. ^ William St. Clair, That Greece Might Still Be Free, The Philhellenes in the War of Independence, Oxford University Press, London, 1972, p.79. ISBN 0192151940.
  20. ^ "The Sephardic Community of Chios". Retrieved 2009-03-22. 
  21. ^ William St. Clair, p. 79
  22. ^ Hellenic Genocide Events retrieved May 19, 2008
  23. ^ [1]
  24. ^ Municipality of Genoa - Homepage.
  25. ^ Jona Lendering. "Theopompus of Chios". Retrieved 2009-03-22. 
  26. ^
  27. ^ A New Theory Clarifying the Identity OF Christopher Columbus: A Byzantine Prince from Chios, Greece. by Ruth G Durlacher-Wolper 1982(Published by The New World Museum, San Salvador, Bahamas)
  28. ^ [2]

External links

Coordinates: 38°24′N 26°01′E / 38.4°N 26.017°E / 38.4; 26.017

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Chios is a region of Greece, an island in the Aegean Sea 5 miles off the Turkish coasts.

The population is about 52,290 (census of 2001), with an area of 904 km². Chios or Chora; it is a port and the island's chief town. The island is famous for its scenery and good climate. Its chief export is mastic but it also produces olives, figs, and wine. Its international fame is based on the size and quality of its shipping community.

  • Agios Minas
  • Amani
  • Chios
  • Ionia
  • Kampochora
  • Kardamyla
  • Mastichochoria
  • Oinousses
  • Omiroupoli
  • Psara
  • Chios
  • Vrondados
  • Kardamyla
  • Pyrgi
  • Mesta

Get in

By plane

Domestic flights From Athens are running all year round about 4-6 per day. In the summer time ? there are other flights from Thesalloniki and Rhodes 2-3 times a week

Charter flights From some major european capitals there are direct flights to Chios

  • Hellaswings From Oslo Norway directly to Chios Greece once a week
  • Lilleput From Oslo Norway directly to Chios Greece once a week
  • Martin Air from Amsterdam Holland directly to Chios Greece once a week
  • Transavia from Amsterdam Holland directly to Chios Greece twice a week
  • Lauda Air From Vienna Austria directly to Chios Greece once a week

By boat

You can take the boat from Pireaus once a day (twice a day in the summer) from NEL Lines or Hellenic Seaways or Kabala (operational only in the summer). There is also regular trips from Samos and Lesvos all year round. You can also come by boat from Cesme (Turkey} with a once a day all year round service.

Get around

You can bring a car using the boats, or you can rent one there. Chios is a big island and if you want to get around (out of the place where you are staying you have to have wheels) you better rent a car or motorbike. Renting a bicycle if you are not traveling big distances.

  • Nea Moni
  • Anavatos
  • Pyrgi
  • Mesta
  • Kambos
  • Chios Rooms [1] - +30 22710 20198 Small and affordable family owned hostel. Located on the harbor of Chios town, walking distance from ferries arrival point. English is spoken fluently.
  • Chios Dolfins Studios [2]
  • Chiosrooms Studios and apartments [3]
  • Haus Fay Chios Studios and apartments [4]
  • Mesta Medieval Castle Suites [5]
  • Noufaro Studios, Karfas
  • Xiotel Residence [6]
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CHIOS, an island on the west coast of Asia Minor, called by the Greeks Chios (Xios, 'v r i Xio) and by the Turks Saki Adasi; the soft pronunciation of X before c in modern Greek, approximating to sh, caused Xio to be Italianized as Scio. It forms, with the islands of Psara, Nikaria, Leros, Calymnus and Cos, a sanjak of the Archipelago vilayet. Chios is about 30 m. long from N. to S., and from 8 to 15 m. broad; pop. 64,000. It well deserves the epithet "craggy" (rraorraX6Ecraa) of the Homeric hymn. Its figs were noted in ancient times, but wine and gum mastic have always been the most important products. The climate is healthy; oranges, olives and even palms grow freely. The wine grown on the N.W. coast, in the district called by Strabo Ariusia, was known as vinum Arvisium. Early in the 7th century B.C. Glaucus of Chios discovered the process of welding iron (K6XXouts: see J. G. Frazer's Pausanias, note on x. 16.1, vol. v. pp. 313-314), and the iron stand of a large crater whose parts were all connected by this process was constructed by him, and preserved as one of the most interesting relics of antiquity at Delphi. The long line of Chian sculptors (see Greek Art) in marble bears witness to the fame of Chian art. In literature the chief glory of Chios was the school of epic poets called Homeridae, who helped to create a received text of Homer and gave the island the reputation of being the poet's birthplace. The chief town, Chios (pop. 16,000), is on the E. coast. A theatre and a temple of Athena Poliuchus existed in the ancient city. About 6 m. N. of the city there is a curious monument of antiquity, commonly called "the school of Homer"; it is a very ancient sanctuary of Cybele, with an altar and a figure of the goddess with her two lions, cut out of the native rock on the summit of a hill. On the west coast there is a monastery of great wealth with a church founded by Constantine IX. Monomachus (1042-1054). Starting from the city and encompassing the island, one passes in succession the promontory Posidium; Cape Phanae, the southern extremity of Chios, with a harbour and a temple of Apollo; Notium, probably the south-western point of the island; Laii, opposite the city of Chios, where the island is narrowest; the town Bolissus (now Volisso), the home of the Homerid poets; Melaena, the north-western point; the wine-growing district Ariusia; Cardamyle (now Cardhamili); the north-eastern promontory was probably named Phlium, and the mountains that cross the northern part of the island Pelinaeus or Pellenaeus.

The history of Chios is very obscure. According to Pherecydes, the original inhabitants were Leleges, while according to other accounts Thessalian Pelasgi possessed the island before it became an Ionian state. The name Aethalia, common to Chios and Lemnos in very early times, suggests the original existence of a homogeneous population in these and other neighbouring islands. Oenopion, a mythical hero, son of Dionysus or of Rhadamanthus, was an early king of Chios. His successor in the fourth generation, Hector, united the island to the Ionian confederacy (Pausan. vii. 4), though Strabo (xiv. p. 633) implies an actual conquest by Ionian settlers. The regal government was at a later time exchanged for an oligarchy or a democracy. The names of two tyrants, Amphiclus and Polytecnus, are mentioned. The products of the island were largely exported on the ships of Miletus, with which city Chios formed a close mercantile alliance in opposition to the rival league of Phocaea and Samos. Similar commercial considerations determined the Chians in their attitude towards the Persian conquerors: in 546 they submitted to Cyrus as eagerly as Phocaea resisted him; during the Ionian revolt their fleet of too sail joined the Milesians in offering a desperate opposition at Lade (494). The island was subsequently punished with great rigour by the Persians. The Chian ships, under the tyrant Strattis, served in the Persian fleet at Salamis. After its liberation in 479 Chios joined the Delian League and long remained a firm ally of the Athenians, who allowed it to retain full autonomy. But in 413 the island revolted, and was not recaptured. After the Peloponnesian War it took the first opportunity to renew the Athenian alliance, but in 357 again seceded. As a member of the Delian League it had regained its prosperity, being able to equip a fleet of 50 or 60 sail. Moreover, it was reputed one of the best-governed states in Greece, for although it was governed alternately by oligarchs and democrats neither party persecuted the other severely. It was not till late in the 4th century that civil dissension became a danger to the state, leaving it a prey to Idrieus, the dynast of Caria (346), and to the Persian admiral Memnon (333). During the Hellenistic age Chios maintained itself in a virtually independent position. It supported the Romans in their Eastern wars, and Was made a "free and allied state." Under Roman and Byzantine rule industry and commerce were undisturbed, its chief export at this time being the Arvisian wine, which had become very popular. After temporary occupations by the Seljuk Turks (1089-1092) and by the Venetians (1124-1125, 1172, 1204-1225), it was given in fief to the Genoese family of Zaccaria, and in 1346 passed definitely into the hands of a Genoese maona, or trading company, which was organized in 1362 under the name of "the Giustiniani." This mercantile brotherhood, formerly a privileged class, alone exploited the mastic trade; at the same time the Greeks were allowed to retain their rights of self-government and continued to exercise their industries. In 1415 the Genoese became tributary to the Ottomans. In spite of occasional secessions which brought severe punishment upon the island (1 453, 1 479), the rule of the Giustiniani was not abolished till 1566. Under the Ottoman government the prosperity of Chios was hardly affected. But the island underwent severe periods of suffering after its capture and reconquest from the Florentines (1595) and the Venetians (1694-1695), which greatly reduced the number of the Latins. Worst of all were the massacres of 1822, which followed upon an attack by some Greek insurgents executed against the will of the natives. In 1881 Chios was visited by a very severe earthquake in which over 5600 persons lost their lives and more than half the villages were seriously damaged. The island has now recovered its prosperity. There is a harbour at Castro, and steam flour-mills, foundries and tanneries have been established. Rich antimony and calamine mines are worked by a French undertaking, and good marble is quarried by an Italian company.

Authorities. - Strabo xiv. pp. 632 f.; Athenaeus vi. 265-266; Herodotus i. 160-165, vi. 15-31; Thucydides viii. 14-61; Corpus Inscr. Atticarum, iv. (2), pp. 9, 10; H. Houssaye in Revue des deux mondes, xlvi. (1876), pp. 1 ff.; T. Bent in Historical Review (1889), pp. 4 6 7-4 80; Fustel de Coulanges, L' p le de Chio (ed. Jullian, Paris, 1893); for coinage, B. V. Head, Historia numorum (Oxford, 1887), pp. 5 1 3-5 1 5, and NUMISMATICS: Greek. (E. GR.; M. O. B. C.)

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Alternative spellings

Proper noun


  1. One of the Sporades Islands of Greece.
  2. The capital of Chios.


  • French: Chio (1, 2)
  • Turkish: Sakız


  • Anagrams of chios
  • Sochi

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

mentioned in Acts 20:15, an island in the Aegean Sea, about 5 miles distant from the mainland, having a roadstead, in the shelter of which Paul and his companions anchored for a night when on his third missionary return journey. It is now called Scio.

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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This article needs to be merged with CHIOS (Jewish Encyclopedia).
This article needs to be merged with Chios (Catholic Encyclopedia).

Simple English

File:Chios NASA satellite
Chios from satellite

Chios is the fifth largest Greek island. Its total area is 842 Km2. It is located in the north -east of Aegean Sea, near Asia Minor coast. The biggest town of the island is Chios city. The population of the island is 51,936 inhabitants according to 2001 greek census.[1]


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