The importance of Naxos over the course of time was essential in shaping the history of the Cyclades, and also Greece in general. Naxos has always been famous for its large quantity of exported marble, emery and many other resources. All of the above, combined with the central position of the island in maritime communications are the key factors behind its cultural and economic development.
Cycladic era (late 4th millennium BC-1580 BC )
The mythical history considers the Thracians as the first inhabitants of Naxos. They dominated the island for 200 years, succeeded by the Kares. The first great era of Naxos was the third millennium, known as "Cycladic". The power, wealth and progress of early cycladic residents in Naxos is reflected extensively all over the island in the cemeteries of the era. In the cemetery in the Aplomata area, rich grave offerings have been found. Offerings that could qualify as art masterpieces of the third millennium.
Mycenaean period (1600-1100 BC)
During the second millenium BC and with other forces on the rise, like Crete and Mycenaean centres, the autonomy of the Cycladic civilization recedes. During the Mycenaean period with the city of Grotta and the cemeteries of Kamini and Aplomata, Naxos retains the important role of spreading the Mycenaean civilization through the Cyclades.
Geometric-Archaic period (1030-490 BC)
The transition from the Mycenaean to the ancient Greek civilization was long but smooth. Naxos through this period constitutes a rudimentary relations center between Greece and the countries of the East, which is reflected in the character and quality of archeological finds discovered and dated after 900 BC.
In the 7th century, an oligarchic society is formed in Naxos with many powerful nobles, named "thicks". Naxos colonizes Arkesini and perhaps Egiali on the island of Amorgos and contracts close relations with Santorini. In 734 BC, Naxos sends a fleet to help Halkida to carry settlers to the West and in return its name is given to one of the new colonies (Naxos, Sicily). In the 7th and early 6th century BC Naxos dominates the Aegean and Ionian, financially exploiting the religious center of Delos. During this era monumental art is created, in the full sense, namely the large, sculpted, clean and organic form of architecture. In 540 BC, Ligdamis imposes tyranny. During this era, the most important architectural monument, the marble temple, of which an imposing upright door is preserved (Portara), is built.
With the fall of the Byzantine Empire, Marcus Sanoudos occupies Naxos (1207) and establishes the Franks in the Cyclades, founding the "Duchy of Naxos" or "Archipelago". He divides the island to 56 regions, which he distributes to officials and imposes the feudal system according to Western standards. The hegemony of Sanoudos is a tempestuous period because of constant warfare and diplomatic maneuvering with their neighbors, the Ghisi, pirates, the Byzantine fleet and Venice. The dynasty of Sanoudos (seven sovereigns) ends in 1383, with Francesco Crispo murdering the last Duke of Naxos. The Crispo (12 in total) rule until 1567. From the mid-16th century a new "migration" takes over the island. Barozzi, Grimaldi, Tzioustiniani, Granules, Della-Rocca, De Modena and more invest in the island by buying land or acquiring it by marriage, creating large estates. The feudal regime is maintained intensifying the work of slave islanders. The imposing stone towers, to this day, attest to the feudal regime.
In 1537-1538, the Turkish admiral Barbarossa Hayreddin captures the Cyclades. The Duke of Naxos John Krispis the 4th negotiates to keep his authority in return for an annual tribute of 5.000 gold coins, known as “charatsi”. After 1621 three communities emerge in Naxos: the Castle with the Latin descendants, the Burg with the craftsmen and dignitaries and the Villages with the villagers and farmers of the island.
The modern history of Naxos follows the developments of Greece. Many Naxians fighters took part in the operations in 1821 in the Peloponnese. In 1830 Naxos becomes a part of the Modern Greek state along with the rest of the Cyclades. During the second half of the 19th century the use of emery deposits contributes to the development of emery settlements. The Italian occupation (1940-1941) of the island stopped this trend and led to an economic downturn, which continued in subsequent years, resulting in massive migration of residents to the United States and Athens.