Thasos

Thasos

[thah-saws; Eng. they-sos, -sohs]

Thasos or Thassos (Θάσος) is a Greek island in the northern Aegean Sea, close to the coast of Thrace and the plain of the river Nestos but geographically part of Macedonia.

History

Antiquity

The island was colonized at an early date by Phoenicians, attracted probably by its gold mines; they founded a temple to the god Melqart, whom the Greeks identified as "Tyrian Heracles", and whose cult was merged with Heracles in the course of the island's Hellenization. The temple still existed in the time of Herodotus. An eponymous Thasos, son of Phoenix (or of Agenor, as Pausanias reported) was said to have been the leader of the Phoenicians, and to have given his name to the island.

In either 720 or 708 BC, Thasos received a Greek colony from Paros. It was in a war which the Parian colonists waged with the Saians, a Thracian tribe, that the poet Archilochus threw away his shield. The Greeks extended their power to the mainland, where they owned gold mines which were even more valuable than those on the island. From these sources the Thasians drew great wealth, their annual revenues amounting to 200 or even 300 talents. Herodotus, who visited Thasos, says that the best mines on the island were those which had been opened by the Phoenicians on the east side of the island facing Samothrace.

Thasos was important during the Ionian Revolt against Persia. After the capture of Miletus (494 BC) Histiaeus, the Ionian leader, laid siege. The attack failed, but, warned by the danger, the Thasians employed their revenues to build war ships and strengthen their fortifications. This excited the suspicions of the Persians, and Darius compelled them to surrender their ships and pull down their walls. After the defeat of Xerxes the Thasians joined the Delian confederacy; but afterwards, on account of a difference about the mines and marts on the mainland, they revolted.

The Athenians defeated them by sea, and, after a siege that lasted more than two years, took the capital, Thasos, probably in 463 BC, and compelled the Thasians to destroy their walls, surrender their ships, pay an indemnity and an annual contribution (in 449 BC this was 21 talents, from 445 BC about 30 talents), and resign their possessions on the mainland. In 411 BC, at the time of the oligarchical revolution at Athens, Thasos again revolted from Athens and received a Lacedaemonian governor; but in 407 BC the partisans of Lacedaemon were expelled, and the Athenians under Thrasybulus were admitted.

Roman Era

After the Battle of Aegospotami (405 BC), Thasos again fell into the hands of the Lacedaemonians under Lysander who formed a decarchy there; but the Athenians must have recovered it, for it formed one of the subjects of dispute between them and Philip II of Macedonia. In the embroilment between Philip III of Macedonia and the Romans, Thasos submitted to Philip, but received its freedom at the hands of the Romans after the battle of Cynoscephalae (197 BC), and it was still a "free" state in the time of Pliny.

Ottoman Era

Thasos was part of the Eastern Roman Empire, later known as Byzantine Empire. It was captured by the Turks in 1462. Under the Turks the island was known as Ottoman Turkish: طاشوز Taşöz. A brief revolt against Ottoman rule in 1821, led by Hajiyorgis Metaxas, failed. The island was given by the Sultan Mahmud II to Muhammad Ali of Egypt of as a personal fiefdom in the late 1820s, as a reward for Egyptian intervention in the War of Greek Independence (which failed to prevent the creation of the modern Greek state). Egyptian rule was relatively benign (by some accounts Muhammad Ali had either been born or spent his infancy on Thasos) and the island became prosperous, until 1908, when the New Turk regime asserted Turkish control. On October 20, 1912 during the First Balkan War, a Greek naval detachment claimed Thasos as part of Greece, which it has remained since.

World War II

During Axis occupation (1941-1944) Thasos, along with the rest of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, was under Bulgarian control and suffered from hunger and forced recruitment of young men as slave laborers. The Bulgarians planned to annex the territory under their control and closed down schools as a first step towards forced Bulgarization. Under Bulgarian rule the island was called Тасос. Mountainous terrain facilitated small-scale resistance activity. The Greek Civil War affected the island in the form of skirmishes and Communist guerilla attacks until 1950, almost a year after the main hostilities were over on the mainland.

Modern Era

Thasos, the capital (now informally known as Limenas, or "the port"), stood on the north side of the island, and had two harbors. Archilochus described Thasos as "an ass's backbone crowned with wild wood," and the description still suits the mountainous island with its forests of fir and pine. The highest mountain, Ypsario or Ipsario, is 1,205 m (3428 ft) high. Besides its gold mines, the wine, nuts and marble of Thasos were well known in antiquity. Thasian wine (a light bodied wine with a characteristic apple scent) was, in particular, quite famous; to the point where all Thasian coins carried the head of the wine god Dionysos on one side and bunches of grape of the other.

Today, Thasos is a part of the Kavala prefecture and is the southernmost and the easternmost points in the prefecture. Under local government reform in the late 1990s, the entire island became a single municipality. Thasos is served ferry routes to and from Kavala and Keramoti. The latter is a port at the eastern portion of the prefecture, close to Kavala's airport, and has the shortest possible crossing to the island.

Geological Setting

Thasos island is located in the northern Aegean sea approximately 7 km from the mainland and 20 km south-east of Kavala. The Island is formed mainly by gneisses, schists and marbles of the Rhodope Massif. Marble sequences, corresponding to the Falacron Marbles intercalated by schists and gneisses, are up to 500m thick and are separated from the underlying gneisses by a transition zone about 300 m thick termed the T-zone consisting of alternances of dolomitic and calcitic marbles intercalated by schists and gneisses.

The rocks have undergone several periods of regional metamorphism, to at least upper amphibolite facies, and there was a subsequent phase of retrograde metamorphism. At least three periods of regional deformation have been identified, the most important being large scale isoclinal folding with axes aligned north-west. The T-zone is deformed and is interpreted by some authors as a regional thrust of pre-major folding age. There are two major high angle fault systems aligned north-west and north-east respectively. A large low-angle thrust cuts the gneiss, schist and marble sequence at the south-west corner of the island, probably indicating an overthrusting of the Serbomacedonian Massif onto the Rodope Massif.

The Late Miocene oil-producing Nestos-Prinos basin is located between Thassos island and the mainland. The floor of the basin is around 1,500 m deep off the Thassos coast(South Kavala ridge; Proedrou, 1988) and up to 4.000-5.000 m in the axial sector between Thassos and the mainland. The basin is filled with Late Miocene-Pliocene sediments, including ubiquitously repeated evaporite layers of rock salt and anhydrite-dolomite which alternate with sandstones, conglomerates, black shales, and uraniferous coal measures (Proedrou, 1979, 1988; Taupitz, 1985). Stratigraphically equivalent rocks on the mainland are clastic sediments with coal beds, marine to brackish fluvial units and travertines.

Mining history of Thasos

Mining activities for base and precious metals started in the 7th century B.C. with the Phoenicians, followed in the 4th century by the Greeks and then the Romans. The mining was both open - pit and underground, and concentrated on the numerous karst hosted calamine deposits for lead and silver although there was also minor exploitation of gold and copper. Worth mentioning is the discovery of a paleolithic addit located at Tzines iron mine, whose age has being estimated at approximately 15.000 years old, (Kovkouli et al. 1988) for the exploitation of limonitic ochre.

More recently, mining companies such as Speidel (1905-1912) and Vielle Montagne (1925-1930) exploited the Zn-Pb (calamine) ores which had reported grades over 12% Zn+Pb. In 1905 a metallurgical plant was erected at Limenaria for the calcination of the calamines in vertical and Oxland furnaces to produce ZnO. Later (1926) the calcination plant was rebuilt by Vieille Montagne with Waelz system rotary furnaces. Iron ore mining became important during the years 1954-1964. Several mining companies (Krupp and Apostolopoulos A.E., Chondrodimos S.A.)exploited the iron ore deposits of the island. It is estimated that total mineral production during the period 1905-1964 was about 2 million tonnes of calamine (12% Zn+Pb) and 3 million tonnes of iron ore (44% Fe). After 1964 there is no mining activity on the island.

A new exploration effort was initiated in 1976 by IGME aimed at locating hidden primary base metal mineralization. Core drilling resulted in the discovery at the Marlou prospect, in 1979, of a stratabound primary Zn-Pb deposit at a depth of 200 m. The marble quarrying had a parallel history with the mining activity until the Byzantine period. In the present era, starting about forty years ago, marble quarrying is the only activity concerning the mineral wealth of Thasos.

Information

The highest elevation of Thasos is the Ypsario, at 1,204 m. The main agricultural production on the island are honey and olive oil as well as wine, sheep, goat herding and fishing. Other industries includes lumber and tourism. Mining industry including lead, zinc and marble especially in the Panagia area where one of the mountains near the Thracian Sea has a large marble quarry. A marble quarry in the south has been mined during the ancient times. By far the most important economic activity is tourism. Thasos has a few schools, a lyceum, a gymnasia, a church and a square (plateia).

Communities

Towns and villages with over 100 inhabitants are:

Historical population

Year Population Change Municipal population Change
1981 2,312 - - -
1991 2,600 288/12.46% -
2001 13,765 - -/km²

Notable people

  • Aglaophon (6-5th c. BC) painter, teacher and father of Polygnotus and Aristophon
  • Polygnotus (middle of 5th c.BC), painter
  • Neseus of Thasos, painter
  • Theagenes Olympic boxer (480 BC), Pankratiast(476 BC) and runner
  • Hegemon of Thasos comedian, inventor of parody
  • Polygnostos Vagis (1892-1965) Thasos-born US sculptor
  • Vassilis Vassilikos (1934) poet and author

See also

Bibliographic references

  • Antje and Günther Schwab: Thassos - Samothraki, 1999, ISBN 3-932410-30-0.
  • N. Epitropou et al.: "The discovery of primary stratabound Pb – Zn mineralization at Thassos Island", L’ Industria Mineraria n. 4, 1982.
  • N. Epitropou, D. Konstantinides, D. Bitzios: "The Mariou Pb – Zn Mineralization of the Thassos Island Greece.", Mineral deposits of the Alps and of Alpine Epoch in Europe ed. by H. J. Echneibert, Spring – Verlag Berlin Heilderberg, 1983.
  • N. Epitropou et al.: "Le mineralizzazioni carsiche a Pb – Zn dell’ isola di Thassos, Grecia.", Mem. Soc. Geol. H. 22, 1981, pp. 139-143.
  • Omenetto P., Epitropou N., Konstantinides D.: "The base metal sulphides of W. Thassos Island in the Geological Metallogenic Frame work of Rhodope and Surrounding Regions.", International Earth Sciences Congress on AEGEAN Regions, 1-6 October 1990, Izmir -Turkey.
  • Epitropou N., Omenetto P., Constantinides D., "Μineralizations a Pb – Zn comparables au type ' Mississippi Valley'. L'example de l'ile de Thassos (Macedoine, Grece du Nord)", MVT WORKSHOP, Paris, France, 1993.

References

External links

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