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Greek Islands History
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Greek Islands.

Greek Islands History

Each island has its own distinct history, much of which has been dug up by archaeologists and is subject to the educated guesswork of professionals. The islands have survived, some just barely, the intrusions of foreign powers such as Turkey, Egypt, and Germany, to name a few. They have always been ideal spots for commercial activity, making them highly desirable possessions to other countries. They have also struggled with constant earthquakes and

volcanic eruptions. The buildings that have not withstood these natural disasters have been renovated and rebuilt over time, but many will never be the same.

The most intriguing concept of Greek Island history relates to the assimilation of fact with myth. At certain points in Greek history, the line between myth and reality becomes fuzzy to the point of non-existence.

When asked about the crescent shaped Santorini, professional historians and scientists will give you explanations of how the center of what was once a round island, fell into the sea during a volcanic eruption. Others will tell you that in the center of Santorini once lived the great people of Atlantis who became so powerful, they defied the rules of the gods. In their anger, the gods caused earthquakes to shake the island for one day and one night until the center fell into the sea, swallowing the people with their sins.

Magnesia, the summer home of the gods, is an island less frequented by vacationers but still full of both fact and myth. Excavations prove that Magnesia was one of the first islands in Greece to be inhabited, and the civilizations flourished. Magnesia played its most significant role in the Bronze Age and many artifacts from that time period have been found and are currently on display. However, literature and mythology choose to believe that the story of Jason and the Argonauts began on Magnesia, when they set off to find the Golden Fleece.

Crete has a long timeline of historical events dating back to 3000 BC. The island has been invaded and occupied by the Romans, Venetians, Byzantines, and Germans, but in the end it still belongs to its mother country, Greece. Countless artifacts have been unearthed from Crete’s soil and there is always something to discover. Underneath the dense history of the island’s prosperous commercial and religious civilizations, lies a more fantastical theory of when it all began. Tradition states that Zeus chose Crete as the hiding place for his pregnant mistress who, in turn, gave birth to his children, the god Apollo and the goddess Artemis.

No matter what side of the stories you choose to accept, there is always a sense of wonder attached to Greek history. While myth is simply fantasy, it is tempting to believe. Even many of the “facts” are simply the guesswork of educated archaeologists and historians. When you visit the islands, make sure to listen to different historical accounts by tour guides, and if you can, make conversation with friendly English speaking locals, because, with over 4000 years of history, there is always a new piece of knowledge to be gained.

More Information
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Greek Islands Travel Guides
 Frommer's Greek Islands
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