Very little is known about Kimolos in the earliest period. The earliest evidence of human habitation is provided by Neolithic finds on the East coast, at Provarma. On the west coast, at Ellinika, graves and pottery from the Mycenean era (around 1500 BC) up to the late Hellenistic period (1st century BC) have been found. Finds from around the 7th century (the geometric period, named after the style of vases) such as an ancient cemetery containing 22 graves and a large quantity of pottery suggest that there was a thriving settlement on the island.
An ancient city once stood on the present-day islet of Agios Andreas, which at that time was joined to the island of Kimolos. An earthquake of unknown date must have caused the submergence of the land between, and separated Agios Andreas from the main island. Today you can see the ruins of the ancient city both on the island and beneath the sea.
Likewise, there is little evidence for the history of Kimolos during Classical and Hellenistic times. In the Classical period, Kimolos was a member of the Athenian Alliance. The main town was still in the same place, the most fertile part of island. As it is obvious from the coins found dating back to this period, the goddesses Athena and Artemis were worshipped on the island.
The last mention of the ancient city is in Roman times, when according to Pliny there was extensive exploitation of the “Kimolian Earth”, mainly used at this time as a soap. The settlement of Paleokastro, below the summit of the highest mountain in the island, is later. Here, you can still see the remains of polygonal walls and of the entrance gateway on the western side - the"Portara" - and traces of buildings and cisterns.
Medieval times to modern times
For many centuries during the Middle Ages, the history of the island is shrouded in mystery, but the occupation of Constantinople by the Crusaders in 1204 A.D. had as a direct consequence the Venetian occupation of Milos. Kimolos along with Milos and other Cycladic islands was occupied in 1207 by Marco Sanoudos, known also as the "Duke of the Aegean". In the following centuries, it changed hands repeatedly to end up, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, as part of the Ottoman empire. However, the Turks never lived here, for fear of pirates.
Towards the end of the middle ages, Kimolos, which had been almost depopulated by pirate attacks, began to prosper, mainly because of the growth of trade in the wider region, and the population expanded. In the 16th century, a new settlement was built, within the walls of the Kastro, on the site where it still is today. Of the 123 houses within the Kastro, a hundred are almost identical and it is presumed that they were all built at the same time. According to one version of the history of the island, the founder of the new settlement was Ioannis Ramfos, a wealthy merchant, who intended the Kastro for the accommodation of his sailors. The people of the Aegean islands suffered many hardships during the wars between the Venetians and the Turks, from the heavy taxation imposed by both sides, from the recruitment of men as galley slaves and from random pillaging. During this war, the Venetians cut down all the olive trees on the island.
From this period and up to the 19th century, Kimolos suffered every sort of disaster from christian corsairs or pirates, known as “kleftosfougarades” (thieves of sponges!). Watchers on the high points of the island warned the people of the arrival of the pirates’ ships, so that they could take refuge in the Kastro.
At that time, many of the christian corsairs would land in the islands on the pretext of protecting the island from the Turks, and then loot the islands themselves. Eventually, many of them settled there permanently. By the end of the17th century, the population of Kimolos numbered around a thousand and it had become both a haven and also a permanent home for many pirates. Local people had to deal with them, out of fear and because of their poverty. In fact, on many occasions they took part in their raids, and in this way became experienced sailors themselves. From 1821 onwards, piracy was put down and finally eliminated and the locals began to build their houses outside the Kastro, in the new town.