Ancient Towers

During the period of Sifnos's peak in antiquity (around the 6th century BC),  the Sifnians began to build a tower system network throughout the whole island due to the wealth from their mines (gold, silver, iron).

Originally the towers were built near mines and later along the rest of the island, especially in cultivated areas and strategic locations (tops of hills and slopes).

These fortifying and defensive structures served as shelters for the rural population during sudden pirate raids and also as observatories and outposts  which ensured communication inside and outside the island.

They communicated with each other and with the ancient citadel of the island with the use of mirrors or smoke signals. All the towers of the island were round with an outside diameter of 4 to 13,2 meters; some of them,  comprised a single space, while others two or three.

In some of them wells, millstones and presses have been found, which is a sign that these spaces where autonomous spaces.

References to Sifnos towers were made by European travelers such as Pitton de Tournefort in 1718, by historians like Charles Gion in 1876, by archaeologists such as James Dragatsis who had conducted excavations (1915-1924) and named 38 towers and John Young who discovered 24 towers in 1938 and compiled a relative list and a small map which it was published in 1956.

An extensive study was conducted by the Australian professor Norman Aston  who recorded, photographed, measured and described among others the remaining  17 towers that had not been reported until then  and published with Evangelos Pantazoglou (who photographed by  helicopter the towers in 1987) the book  "Sifnos, Ancient Towers," in 1991.

Later, the archaeologists Stavroula Samartzidou and Christina Televantou discovered one tower each and 19 more towers were discovered by Mrs Zozi Papadopoulou with the help of the guardian of antiquities Mr. Apostolis Karavis. An announcement was made at the 2nd International Symphonic Symposium, June 2002 raising the number of ancient towers in Sifnos to 77.

Today the archaeological service has recorded 77 ancient towers in Sifnos, more than one tower per square kilometer. Several of them are located in remote locations and are inaccessible, but there are also several that are more easily accessible.

Of those that still exist at a high altitude and more easily accessible, are the White Tower in Pantokrator (6th century BC), the Black Tower in Exampela (5th century BC) and the Tower at Cade on the street to Vathi (4th century BC).

Since 2003, almost two and a half thousand years after their first use, dozens of local volunteers and not only revive the ancient system of Fryktories every year on Sunday of the Pentecost.



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