The Cycladic civilization, the first of all in the Aegean sea, developed in the 3rd millennium Β.C. around a small complex of islands called the Cyclades, due to their circular arrangement around the sacred island of Delos (Cyclades /cik’lαðεs/ < cycle).
Serifos is an island that played a significant role since the proto-Cycladic years, for its rich in metals subsoil, which not only provided wealth to the island, but also its very own currency. That was the reason that the Serifians were not really involved in agriculture, livestock, trade or shipping, like other neighboring islands.
Its name, which exists since the ancient years, derives -according to the lexicographers- from the word “sterfos” (/’sterfos/), meaning fallow, barren and rocky land. Only during the Ottoman period the island used to be called “Serfos”.
It is historically mentioned that Serifos was first inhabited in the 7th century B.C. by the ancient Greek tribes of the Aeolians from Thessaly and the Ionians from Attica, followed by the Phoenixes, the Cretans and the Mycenaeans.
The island flourished during the Classical Era and, along with most of the Cycladic islands and the Dodecanese, by the end of that era it entered the Second Athenian League. It then passed to the descendants of Alexander the Great, to the Romans that used the island as a place of exile and to the Franks. Serifos experienced one more period of prosperity, particularly of cultural and financial growth, it joined the Duchy of the Aegean and was later occupied by the Turks.
Piracy in the Aegean was frequent, striking the island of Serifos repeatedly, creating thus the need of greater protection and defense. The fortification design of the Chora’s Castle and the fortress-like architecture of the Monastery of Taxiarches clearly depict that need.
In 1821 Serifos participated in the Greek Revolution, so as to be released from the shackles of the Ottoman Empire, along with the rest of the islands, and to be part of the newly established Greek state, a few years later.
The mining activity was a major characteristic of the island’s history, from the ancient years until the modern times. However, the outcome of the miners’ strike sealed that chapter tragically, staining it with blood.