Milos or Melos is a volcanic Greek island in the Aegean Sea, just north of the Sea of Crete. Milos is the southwesternmost island in the Cyclades group. The island is famous for the statue of Aphrodite (the "Venus de Milo", now in the Louvre), and also for statues of the Greek god Asclepius (now in the British Museum), the Poseidon and an archaic Apollo in Athens.
Milos is a popular tourist destination during the summer. The Municipality of Milos also includes the uninhabited offshore islands of Antimilos and Akradies.
Obsidian from Milos was a commodity as early as 15,000 years ago. Natural glass from Milos was transported over long distances and used for razor sharp "stone tools" well before farming began. The position of Milos, between mainland Greece and Crete, and its possession of obsidian, made it an important centre of early Aegean civilisation. Milos lost its arms-making importance when bronze became the preferred material for the manufacture of weapons. The first settlement at Phylakopi (Greek Φυλακωπή) arose in the Bronze Age, flourishing as the extraction of obsidian was in the decline. The antiquities found at the site covered three major periods, from the Early Cycladic period to the Mycenaean period Mycenaean age of Greece.
In historical times, the island was occupied by Dorians from Laconia. In the 6th century BC, it again produced a remarkable series of vases, of large size, with mythological subjects and orientalizing ornamentation, and also a series of terra-cotta reliefs (Melian Reliefs).
The Greek historian Thucydides wrote in his History of the Peloponnesian War of how, in 416 BC, Athens attacked Milos for refusing to submit tribute and refusing to join Athens' alliance against Sparta. The invasion of Melos occurred during the second phase of the Peloponnesian War (431 to 404 BC). The Melians claimed Spartan descent but had remained neutral throughout this conflict. In 426 BC, Athens had prosecuted a brief perfunctory operation on the island but had withdrawn quickly because they were at the time involved in open conflict with Sparta. In 425 BC Athens claimed suzerainty over Milos and demanded tribute.
The second attack on Milos occurred five years after Athens and Sparta had signed a peace agreement. In the summer of 416 BC the Athenians landed an army of over 3,000 soldiers on the island, led by the generals Cleomedes and Tisias. They sent diplomats to negotiate a surrender, offering to spare the Melians if they joined the Athenian-dominated Delian League and paid tribute to Athens. The Melians rejected the ultimatum. The Athenians laid siege to the city and withdrew most of their troops from the island to fight elsewhere. For months the Melians withstood the siege, but with reinforcements from Athens and the help of traitors within Milos, the Athenians took the city that winter. The Athenians executed all the adult men they caught, and sold the women and children into slavery. They then settled 500 of their own colonists on the island. In 405 BC, with Athens losing the war, the Spartan general Lysander expelled the Athenian settlers from Melos and restored the survivors of the original Spartan colony to the island.
There are about 70 beaches on Milos Island. Hivadolimni Beach is the longest at about 1 kilometre (0.62 mi). The rest of the beaches are starting from (North): Sarakiniko Beach, Papafragas, Kapros, Pachena, Alogomantra, Konstantinos, Mitakas, Mantrakia, Firopotamos, Nerodafni, Lakida, Plathiena, Fourkovouni, Areti, Pollonia, Gourado and Filakopi. (South): Firiplaka, Paliochori, Provatas, Tsigrado, Agia Kyriaki, Psaravolada, Kleftiko, Gerontas, Gerakas, Agios Sostis, Mouchlioti, Katergo, Spathi, Firligos, Pialothiafes, Kalamos, Krotiraki, Psathi, Svoronou and Sakelari. (West): Agios Ioannis, Cave of Sikia, Agathia, Triades and Ammoudaraki. (East): Voudia, Thalassa, Paliorema, Tria Pagidia and Thiafes. (In the Bay Area): Hivadolimni, Lagada, Papikinou, Fatourena, Klima, Skinopi and Patrikia.
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