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The beginnings of the Minoan civilisation were influenced by the Cycladic civilisation: Cycladic statuettes were imported into Crete and local artisans imitated Cycladic techniques; archaeological evidence supporting this notion has been found at Aghia Photia , Knossos and Archanes. Three great periods have traditionally been designated equivalent to those that divide the Helladic on the continent and the Minoan in Crete : . The study of skeletons found in tombs, always in cists, shows an evolution from the Neolithic. Osteoporosis was less prevalent although arthritic diseases continued to be present.
Thus, diet had improved.
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Life expectancy progressed: men lived up to forty or forty-five years, but women only thirty. Animal husbandry was already primarily concerned with goats and sheep, as well as a few hogs, but very few bovines, the raising of which is still poorly developed on the islands. Fishing completed the diet base, due for example to the regular migration of tuna. It seems that at the time, the Cyclades exported more merchandise than they imported,  a rather unusual circumstance during their history. The ceramics found at various Cycladic sites Phylakopi on Milos, Aghia Irini on Kea and Akrotiri on Santorini prove the existence of commercial routes going from continental Greece to Crete while mainly passing by the Western Cyclades, up until the Late Cycladic.
Excavations at these three sites have uncovered vases produced on the continent or on Crete and imported onto the islands.
It is known that there were specialised artisans: founders, blacksmiths, potters and sculptors, but it is impossible to say if they made a living off their work. Tools have been found that were made of a primitive bronze, an alloy of copper and arsenic.
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The copper came from Kythnos and already contained a high volume of arsenic. Tin, the provenance of which has not been determined, was only later introduced into the islands, after the end of the Cycladic civilisation.
The oldest bronze containing tin was found at Kastri on Tinos dating to the time of the Phylakopi Culture and their composition proves they came from Troad , either as raw materials or as finished products. These tools were used to work marble, above all coming from Naxos and Paros, either for the celebrated Cycladic idols, or for marble vases. It appears that marble was not then, like today, extracted from mines, but was quarried in great quantities.
Finally, the pumice stone of Santorini allowed for a perfect finish. The pigments that can be found on statuettes, as well as in tombs, also originated on the islands, as well as the azurite for blue and the iron ore for red. It was at this time that piracy might first have made an appearance in the archipelago. The islands, due to their relatively small size, could not fight against these highly centralised powers.
Thucydides writes that Minos expelled the archipelago's first inhabitants, the Carians ,  whose tombs were numerous on Delos. According to Herodotus, the Carians were the best warriors of their time and taught the Greeks to place plumes on their helmets, to represent insignia on their shields and to use straps to hold these. Later, the Dorians would expel the Carians from the Cyclades; the former were followed by the Ionians, who turned the island of Delos into a great religious centre.
Fifteen settlements from the Middle Cycladic c. The absence of a real break despite a stratum of ruins between Phylakopi I and Phylakopi II suggests that the transition between the two was not a brutal one. The Cyclades also underwent a cultural differentiation. One group in the north around Kea and Syros tended to approach the Northeast Aegean from a cultural point of view, while the Southern Cyclades seem to have been closer to the Cretan civilisation.
Likewise, too few archaeological proofs exist of an exclusively Cretan district, as would be typical for a settler colony. It seems that Crete defended her interests in the region through agents who could play a more or less important political role. In this way the Minoan civilisation protected its commercial routes. The Cyclades were a very active trading zone. The western axis of these three was of paramount importance. Kea was the first stop off the continent, being closest, near the mines of Laurium ; Milos redistributed to the rest of the archipelago and remained the principal source of obsidian; and Santorini played for Crete the same role Kea did for Attica.
The great majority of bronze continued to be made with arsenic; tin progressed very slowly in the Cyclades, beginning in the northeast of the archipelago. Settlements were small villages of sailors and farmers,  often tightly fortified. Although they more or less kept their political and commercial independence, it seems that from a religious perspective, the Cretan influence was very strong. Objects of worship zoomorphic rhyta , libation tables, etc.
Excavations since have uncovered a built-up area covering one hectare, not counting the defensive wall. The buildings had two to three floors and lacked skylights and courtyards; openings onto the street provided air and light. The ground floor contained the staircase and rooms serving as stores or workshops; the rooms on the next floor, slightly larger, had a central pillar and were decorated with frescoes.
The houses had terraced roofs placed on beams that had not been squared, covered up with a vegetable layer seaweed or leaves and then several layers of clay soil,  a practice that continues in traditional societies to this day.
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From the beginning of excavations in , the Greek archaeologist Spiridon Marinatos noted that the city had undergone a first destruction, due to an earthquake, before the eruption, as some of the buried objects were ruins, whereas a volcano alone may have left them intact. Between the middle of the 15th century BC and the middle of the 11th century BC, relations between the Cyclades and the continent went through three phases.
Certain buildings call to mind the continental palaces, without definite proof, but typically Mycenaean elements have been found in religious sanctuaries. Moreover, some island sites built fortifications or improved their defenses such as Phylakopi, but also Aghios Andreas on Siphnos and Koukounaries on Paros. To the importation of objects jars with handles decorated with squids was also added the movement of peoples with migrations coming from the continent. The Ionians came from the continent around the 10th century BC, setting up the great religious sanctuary of Delos around three centuries later.
The Homeric Hymn to Apollo the first part of which may date to the 7th century BC alludes to Ionian panegyrics which included athletic competitions, songs and dances. It was between the 12th and the 8th centuries BC that the first Cycladic cities were built, including four on Kea Ioulis, Korissia, Piessa and Karthaia and Zagora on Andros, the houses of which were surrounded by a wall dated by archaeologists to BC. Hence, it seems that Naxos, the islet of Donoussa and above all Andros had links with Euboea , while Milos and Santorini were in the Doric sphere of influence.
Zagora, one of the most important urban settlements of the era which it has been possible to study, reveals that the type of traditional buildings found there evolved little between the 9th century BC and the 19th century. The houses had flat roofs made of schist slabs covered up with clay and truncated corners designed to allow beasts of burden to pass by more easily. From the 8th century BC, the Cyclades experienced an apogee linked in great part to their natural riches obsidian from Milos and Sifnos, silver from Syros, pumice stone from Santorini and marble, chiefly from Paros.
The wealth of the Cycladic cities thus attracted the interest of their neighbours. Shortly after the treasury of Sifnos at Delphi was built, forces from Samos pillaged the island in BC. The Persians tried to take the Cyclades near the beginning of the 5th century BC. Aristagoras , nephew of Histiaeus, tyrant of Miletus , launched an expedition with Artaphernes, satrap of Lydia , against Naxos. He hoped to control the entire archipelago after taking this island.
On the way there, Aristagoras quarreled with the admiral Megabetes, who betrayed the force by informing Naxos of the fleet's approach. The Persians temporarily renounced their ambitions in the Cyclades due to the Ionian revolt. When Darius launched his expedition against Greece , he ordered Datis and Artaphernes to take the Cyclades. After Marathon , Miltiades set out to reconquer the archipelago, but he failed before Paros.
Themistocles , pursuing the Persian fleet across the archipelago, also sought to punish the islands most compromised with regard to the Persians, a prelude to Athenian domination. This alliance was organised by Athens and is commonly called the first Delian League.
From BC, the cities in coalition provided either ships for example Naxos or especially a tribute of silver. The amount of treasure owed was fixed at four hundred talents, which were deposited in the sanctuary of Apollo on the sacred island of Delos. Rather quickly, Athens began to behave in an authoritarian manner toward its allies, before bringing them under its total domination.
Naxos revolted in BC  and became the first allied city to be transformed into a subject state by Athens, following a siege.
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The tribute was not too burdensome, except after a revolt, when it was increased as punishment. Apparently, Athenian domination sometimes took the form of cleruchies for example on Naxos and Andros. The Cyclades paid a tribute until BC. After that, they experienced a relative period of autonomy before entering the second Delian League and passing under Athenian control once again.
According to Quintus Curtius Rufus , after or at the same time as the Battle of Issus , a Persian counter-attack led by Pharnabazus led to an occupation of Andros and Sifnos. His ships appear to have taken over several ships from the islands, among them Tinos, and brought back a large number of slaves. Thus they began to pass into the orbit of Macedonia. The islands then passed under Ptolemaic domination.
During the Chremonidean War , mercenary garrisons had been set up on certain islands, among them Santorini, Andros and Kea. However, because of the revolt of Alexander , son of Craterus , the Macedonians were not able to exercise complete control over the archipelago, which entered a period of instability. Demetrius of Pharos then ravaged the archipelago  and was driven away from it by the Rhodians.
Philip V of Macedon , after the Second Punic War , turned his attention to the Cyclades, which he ordered the Aetolian pirate Dicearchus to ravage  before taking control and installing garrisons on Andros, Paros and Kythnos. After the Battle of Cynoscephalae , the islands passed to Rhodes  and then to the Romans. Rhodes would give new momentum to the Nesiotic League. These few families had many children and derived part of their resources from a financial exploitation of the land sales, rents, etc. Only the purchase and sale of land could build up coherent holdings. Part of these financial resources could also be invested in commercial activities.
This endogamy might take place at the level of social class, but also at that of the entire body of citizens. It is known that the inhabitants of Delos, although living in a city with numerous foreigners—who sometimes outnumbered citizens—practiced a very strong form of civic endogamy throughout the Hellenistic period. In fact, populations circulated more widely in the Hellenistic period than in previous eras: of soldiers quartered in the garrison at Santorini by the Ptolemies, the great majority came from Asia Minor;  at the end of the 1st century BC, Milos had a large Jewish population.
Hotels in Pireaus If you are staying in a hotel in central Athens anywhere near the metro then you really don't need to stay in a hotel in Pireaus since you can be in the port in about 15 minutes on the metro and a taxi will only cost you about 12 euros or so. But there are circumstances where you may want a hotel in Pireaus within walking distance of the ferries, for example if you arrive late at night and are leaving early the next morning.
There are a number of good hotels of all category in Pireaus and if you use the Booking. You get off the ferry the way you got on, which is through the garage door unless it has stairs. Be aware that some boats don't stop long on the islands and if you are standing on the deck admiring it when you sail into the bay you might end up on the next island. If you have booked through a Greek travel agency a package that includes hotels and transfers then someone will be there to meet you at the boat.
They may be holding a sign with your name on it or a sign for the hotel or they may be standing in front of a mini-bus with the hotel name emblazoned on the outside. If you have booked on your own then you may have asked the hotel to pick you up and they may have agreed.
Some hotels have free transfers from the port, though this is usually hotels that are in or close to the port. Other hotels offer a transfer one way but you have to pay when you go back to the port. And some hotels just tell you to take a taxi or take the bus, and in almost every port there are taxis and buses waiting at the ferry.
But often there are more people than taxis so it is a good idea to book your taxi in advance through the hotel or on-line. If you have arrived without booking a hotel there are people who meet the boats and will bring you to their hotel. But if you don't like the hotel they won't bring you back. You have to either take the hotel that you don't like or wander around the neighborhood and hope you find a hotel you do like. Some islands have information offices and they can recommend a hotel and the hotel owner may even come and get you if he is not full.
But in reality it is better to book your hotel before you get to the island, even if you have done it the night before from the previous hotel you stayed at in Athens or on another island. If you know when you have to leave then buy your ticket in the first day or so that you are on the island.
There are ticket offices in the ports.
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Keep in mind that some of these are competing agencies and may represent different companies so get the schedules from them all before you decide when you are leaving. For those who have to fly back home immediately after their island trip, plan to spend the last night in a hotel in Athens even if you have an afternoon or evening flight. You don't want to miss your plane if the ferry is delayed or go through the stress of a close-call. Most people who spend their last night in Athens end up loving it.
But for those who want to know there is a friendly English-speaking driver waiting for them who knows where their hotel is and won't waste time and money driving around in circles to get to it I recommend George the Famous Taxi Driver. There is a new bus that leaves from Akti Xaveriou which is the main road that is in front of the cruise terminal. The X80 connects Pireaus with the Acropolis and Syntagma Square and it is an express route which means it should get you there and back pretty quickly.
Not all boats come and go from Pireaus. If you are going to Kea you have to go to Lavrion to catch the ferry which runs at least twice a day. The best way to get to Lavrion is by taxi and I recommend booking George the Famous Taxi Driver in advance for a pre-agreed price rather than haggling with a taxi driver on the street.
The bus will leave you right at the ferry or pick you up there when it is time to go back. If you have a car or are with a taxi there are some very nice seafood restaurants in the town of Lavrion, several in the fish market. If you have hours to wait for your ferry then you should hang out in the town which is about a kilometer away from the ferry port. There are also sailboats you can stay on in the port which can be found on Booking.
Other boats leave from Rafina where the ferry trip is two hours shorter though it takes at least an hour to get to Rafina. These boats go to most of the Cyclades and Andros, which you can't get to from Pireaus. Rafina has a beach and some nice little fish restaurants in the port and is a popular place for Athenians to go even when they are not taking the ferry to an island. There are other hotels and villas available on Booking.
But it is much easier to take a taxi from the airport or Athens and I recommend George the Famous Taxi Driver if you don't want to leave anything to chance, espcially if you are coming back from the islands and have a flight to catch. This used to terrify me but now I look forward to it. If the ferries are big, like those going to Crete and Rhodes and Lesvos and even to the Cyclades you pretty much just drive on and there are guys inside who direct you. The pack the cars in as tightly as possible but this usually does not require much work on your part since all you have to do is line up the front of your car to the back of the car in front of you.
But occasionally on a smaller ferry you have to back in or even if you drive in forward you have to back into some tiny space and here is where it gets stressful if you don't know your left from your right in Greek. The boat workers will be giving you instructions in Greek while you will be fighting the impulse to look behind you and park the car yourself.
But they want you to fit in a space that you would never park in if you had a choice. Dex-ee- ah is right and ah-ree-steh- rah is left. When you have accomplished the task they will say OK, the one word they know in English, and you can lock up the car and go get a drink which you may need. Leave the car in first with the handbrake on. If all of this is beginning to scare you, then do what my friend Vicki does.
When you pull up to the entrance of the garage, just hand the guy the key and ask him to do it. Driving off is easy. But if you have not figured it out by now let me tell you once more that the best way to go to the Greek islands is by using a reliable Greek Travel Agency. If you have a good idea of what you would like to do see my Create-an-itinerary Form which enables you to put together an island-hopping program, submit it, and get a price back or even a response telling you whether what you would like to do is even possible. You can also find hotels on all the islands by going to my Greek Hotel Search Page.
It is pretty much fun and I use it all the time. Luggage Storage in Athens. For those arriving in Athens who want wander around and explore between ferries and flights there are several luggage storage services in convenient locations. No, you can't use it as a hotel. Many hotels will allow their guests to store luggage after checking out, some for as long as you are in Greece if you ask. All especially prepared for you by our very own Irish chef. All the important sporting events and matches are aired on the two big screens - football, basketball, rugby or any games demand desires.
Come chill and enjoy a bit of Ireland in Piraeus! You can also e-mail Matt if you have any questions or comments. If you enjoy this website please share it with your friends on Facebook. If you are appreciative of all the free information you get on my web sites you can send a donation through Paypal. Greek Island Ferry Info. About the Ferry Boats to the Greek Islands Greek Ferries are the primary means of transport to and from the islands, and the trip is an experience to be savored, like a cruise sometimes. Buying Ferry Tickets. Online Ferry Booking Services.
Ferry Prices to the Greek Islands. This word is over-used and the process is over-rated. Getting to the Ferry Boats. Any taxi should know exactly where your boat is and should take you right up to the gang-plank and even help you with your luggage if you booked him on-line or through your travel agent. When Ferries Leave. Traveling on the Ferry Boats in Greece. Hotels in Pireaus. If you are staying in a hotel in central Athens anywhere near the metro then you really don't need to stay in a hotel in Pireaus since you can be in the port in about 15 minutes on the metro and a taxi will only cost you about 12 euros or so.
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