Ancient towers in Sifnos
Description of the ancient way of communication using the towers in Sifnos
Communication network of ancient towers of Sifnos
Seventy six ancient towers are situated dotted all over the island. They are all round and they have been built between 6th and the 3rd century B.C., as it is proven by the shards of ancient pots that have been found in the areas of the towers, as well as by their size and their building type. The findings also prove that the towers had at least two levels with internal separating walls. Most of them are barely visible.
All the towers of Sifnos are round with an average external diameter of around 8 meters and they are constructed within cultivated areas, on top of hills or on slopes. They are connected to the island's citadels and they probably used to be beacon towers, fortresses, guard towers or even storehouses.
In 524 Samian fugitives come to Sifnos; they are political opponents of the shrewd tyrant of Samos, Polycrates, and ask from the residents of Sifnos to help them economically by giving them 10 talents. The residents of Sifnos refuse to give them the money and the Samians make them give them the enormous amount of 100 talents by besieging and pillaging the island. That is when the decadence of Sifnos starts. The towers have been built after the invasion of the Samians in order to send signals to the ancient citadels.
Later on, the network has been developed and the signals exchanging system has been spread all over the island. The new communication method, according to Thucydides, must have been fire and smoke.
Later on, the towers have been used as protective buildings for the women and children and had full agricultural equipment, reservoirs, storehouses, while the stronger ones have been used to push back the pirates.
The towers nowadays
The White Tower (Aspros Pyrgos), which is situated next to the street that leads to Platis Gialos, and the Black Tower in Exambela village, are maintained in a good condition.
Also visit the Tower of Katavati (400 B.C.), which is situated in the location "Kade", on the road to Vathi.
In Sifnos, within the framework of the Cultural Events, once a year – at the eve of the Holy Spirit feast – there is the revival of the towers communication system. The event takes place with the help of volunteers coming from all over the island, who "light up" as many towers as they can, bringing back to life the ancient monuments of Sifnos for one day.
If you take any of the paths of Sifnos, you should not wonder at all if you saw stray rocks and a wooden sign with a name and a B.C. date on it. It is the signalling of the towers, which has been realized within the framework of the revival of the beacon towers of Sifnos, in 2012.
So, now, every tower or the spot where they used to be located bears a sign with its name on it (usually the name of the area) and the date when it was built.
Revival of the ancient towers communication network in Sifnos
Sifnos Municipal Enterprise in cooperation with the Municipality of Sifnos and with Sifnos Cultural Association, in its effort to enhance the archeological wealth of the island, brings back to life every year since 2003, with the warm participation of hundreds of volunteers, the communication network of the ancient beacon towers & citadels of Sifnos.
The volunteers who are spread all over Sifnos, walking through rough paths (for two or even three yours in some cases) to approach the ruins of the ancient towers are in their majority permanent residents of the island, although among them there are also many visitors that are on the island for vacation or who visit the island for this specific purpose. They are people of all ages, levels of education and professional classes, who become parts of a human chain for the communication of the message of volunteerism and solidarity.
The ever growing participation of volunteers and the addition of more and more locations every year is indicative of the dynamics of the project. From 28 locations in 2003 to 50 in 2007 and 85 in 2012!
The event that takes place on the Pentecost Sunday, in the afternoon, since 2006 (the day before Monday of the Holy Spirit), is broadcast live on the local radio station, television and the Internet, by volunteers that are spread all over the island. After the lighting of the towers, there is a gathering of the volunteers with screenings, speeches and music events. All those years, aside from the main event of the lighting of the beacon towers, there have been many other events such as photography exhibitions, where you can see photos taken by the volunteers that visited the towers, lit the fires on them, took photos or videos of them as well as photos of the event taken from an helicopter, a tribute for the volunteers etc.
(Source: Sifnos Municipal Enterprise)