A small island
of volcanic origin in the S Aegean, separated by a narrow channel from the island of Melos to the S. In antiquity Kimolos was best known as a source of kaolin
(ἡ Κιμωλία γῆ
), a fine white clay still quarried as a component of porcelain and for other commercial uses.
Very little is known about the history of the island.
Limited archaeological exploration has indicated that it
was inhabited during the Bronze Age. After the fall of
the Mycenaean civilization the island—along with its
neighbor Melos and other islands of the S Aegean—came
to be occupied by Doric-speaking Greeks, and it is likely
that its early history was closely connected with that of
Melos. As Dorian islands, Kimolos and Melos were not
members of the Delian Confederacy and, therefore, not
tributary to Athens. As a result of the fall of Melos to
Athens in 416-415 B.C. (Thuc. 5.84f
f), Kimolos seems
to have achieved (perhaps by the early 4th c. at the
latest) a certain independence. But, at least by the last
half of the 3d c., it—along with many of the other
Aegean islands—came under the influence of the Macedonian kings. Thereafter its history is unknown.
Archaeological exploration and excavation have indicated that the ancient town lay on the SW coast of the
island, in an area known today as Ellinika (Limni). Here
a large cemetery of Late Mycenaean, Early Iron Age,
Classical, and Hellenistic times has been found. Of special interest was the discovery of some 20 cremation
burials containing over 200 vases of the 9th and 8th c.
B.C., one of the richest collections of Geometric pottery
from the Aegean islands. The site has been partially submerged owing to a change of sea level since antiquity.
Walls and other indications of ancient habitation can
be seen in the shallow water along the shore as well as
on the offshore islet of Haghios Andreas (Daskalio),
which was once part of the mainland. It is possible
that Haghios Andreas was the site of the Sanctuary of
Athena, apparently the principal religious center of Kimolos, at least during Hellenistic times. Evidence of
ancient and mediaeval (or later) occupation has also
been noted on the height of Palaiokastri, located N and
E of Ellinika.
A. Miliarkis, Ὑπομνήματα Περιγραφικὰ τῶν Κυκλάδων Ννήσων κατὰ μέρος
; “Archaeology in Greece, 1953,”JHS
74 (1954) 165; C.
514-15; T. W. Jacobsen &
P. M. Smith, “Two Kimolian Dikast Decrees from
Geraistos in Euboia,” Hesperia
T. W. JACOBSEN