Record ID: 91

Site Name

Rhodes

Type

Islands

Description

Gr. R�dhos, island (area: c.540 sq miles; 1981 pop. 87,831), Dodecanese prefecture, South Aegean dept., SE Greece, in the Aegean Sea near SW Turkey; largest of the Dodecanese isls.; 36�10'N 28�00'E. The modern city of Rhodes is located at the NE tip of the isl. Fertile coastal strips where wheat, tobacco, cotton, olives, wine grapes, oranges, and vegetables are grown. The interior is mountainous, rising to 3,986 ft. on Mt. Attavyros. Tourism is the most important industry; also, fishing and wine making. The isl. was colonized before 1000 B.C. by Dorians from Argos. By the 7th cent. B.C., it was dominated by its 3 city-states of Camirus, Lindos, and Ialysus, all commercial centers. In the early 7th cent. Rhodes established Gela, in Sicily, as its principal colony; other colonies were founded on the E coast of Italy and in Spain. Conquered by Persia in the late 6th cent. B.C., it joined (c.500 B.C.) the Ionian revolt that led to the Persian Wars. In 408 B.C. the 3 city-states of Rhodes united in a confederacy with its capital the newly founded city of Rhodes. Occupied by Macedon; asserted its independence after the death of Alexander the Great (323 B.C.) and entered the period of its greatest prosperity, power, and cultural achievement. The arts and sciences flourished; major figures included the painter Protogenes and the astronomer Hipparchus. However, in the 2d cent. B.C. its commerce�and hence its power�declined sharply, and Rhodes became a minor ally of Rome. Became involved in Rome�s civil wars of the 1st cent. B.C., and in 43 B.C. it was seized and sacked by Caius Cassius. At the time, it was the seat of a famous school of rhetoric. Julius Caesar studied here. Through the early Christian era Rhodes retained a reputation for the high quality of its literary output. Remained in the Byzantine Empire until the capture of Constantinople (1204) during the Fourth Crusade; then passed under local lords, held by Genoa (1248�1250), annexed (1256) by the emperor of Nicaea, and was conquered (c.1282) by the Knights Hospitalers. The knights defended the isl. against Ottoman attack until 1522�1523, when it was captured by the forces of Sulayman I. Prosperity under the knights gave way to Ottoman neglect. Rhodes, along with the other Dodecanese, was taken by Italy from the Ottomans in 1912 and was ceded by Italy to Greece in 1947 when Italians built a naval base on nearby island of Leros.