History of Patmos

The history of Patmos has its earliest remains of human settlements on Patmos island date to the Middle Bronze Age. They consist of pottery shards from Kastelli, the most important archaeological site so far identified. Patmos is seldom mentioned by ancient writers. Therefore very little can be conjectured about the earliest inhabitants. In the Classical period, the Patmians prefer to identify themselves as Dorians descending from the families of Argos, Sparta and Epidaurus, further mingling with people of Ionian ancestry.

Judging from archaeological finds, Kastelli continued to play an important role on the island throughout the Ancient Greek period. During the 3rd century BC, in the Hellenistic period, the settlement of Patmos acquired the form of an acropolis with an improved defense through a fortification wall and towers. Patmos is mentioned in the Christian scriptural Book of Revelation.

After the death of John of Patmos, possibly around 100 , a number of Early Christian basilicas were erected on Patmos. Among these was a Grand Royal Basilica in honor of Saint John, built c. 300-350 at the location where the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian stands today. Early Christian life on Patmos, however, barely survived Muslim raids from the 7th to the 9th century.

During this period, the Grand Basilica was destroyed. In the 11th century, the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos gave Reverend Father Christodoulos the complete authority over the island of Patmos, as well as the permission to build a monastery on the island. The construction of the monastery started in 1101. Population was expanded by infusions of Byzantine immigrants fleeing the Fall of Constantinople , and Cretan immigrants fleeing the fall of Candia in 1669.

The island was controlled by the Ottoman Empire for many years, but it enjoyed certain privileges, mostly related to tax-free trade by the monastery as certified by Ottoman imperial documents held in the Library. In 1912, in connection with the Turco-Italian War, the Italians occupied all the islands of the Dodecanese, including Patmos. The Italians remained there until 1943, when Nazi Germany took over the island. In 1945, the Germans left and the island of Patmos remained autonomous until 1948, when it, together with the rest of the Dodecanese Islands, joined the independent Greece