The harbour town is Adamanta; from this there is an ascent to the plateau above the harbour, on which are situated Plaka, the chief town, and Kastro, rising on a hill above it, and other villages. The ancient town of Melos was nearer to the entrance of the harbour than Adamanta, and occupied the slope between the village of Trypete and the landing-place at Klima. Here is a theatre of Roman date and some remains of town walls and other buildings, one with a fine mosaic excavated by the British school at Athens in 1896. Numerous fine works of art have been found on this site, notably the Venus de Milo in the Louvre, the Asclepius in the British Museum, and the Poseidon and an archaic Apollo in Athens.
The position of Melos, between Greece and Crete, and its possession of obsidian, made it an important centre of early Aegean civilization. At the well-known Bronze Age site of Phylakopi, the chief settlement, on the north-east coast. excavations of the British school revealed a Minoan palace and a town wall. Part of the site has been washed away by the sea. The antiquities found were of three main periods, all preceding the Mycenean age of Greece. Much pottery was found, including examples of a peculiar style, with decorative designs, mostly floral, and also considerable deposits of obsidian. There are some traditions of a Phoenician occupation of Milos.
In historical times the island was occupied by Dorians from Laconia. In the 6th century BC it again produced a remarkable series of vases, of large size, with mythological subjects and orientalizing ornamentation), and also a series of terra-cotta reliefs.
Though Melos inhabitants sent a contingent to the Greek fleet at Salamis Island, it held aloof from the Delian League, and sought to remain neutral during the Peloponnesian War. But in 415 BC the Athenians, having attacked the island and compelled the Melians to surrender, slew all the men capable of bearing arms, made slaves of the women and children, and introduced 500 Athenian colonists. Lysander restored the island to its Dorian possessors, but it never recovered its former prosperity. There were many Jewish settlers in Melos in the beginning of the Christian era, and Christianity was early introduced. During the "Frankish" period the island formed part of the duchy of Naxos, except for the few years (1341-1383) when it was a separate lordship under Marco Sanudo and his daughter.
Antimelos or Antimilo, 55 m. north-west of Milos, is an uninhabited mass of trachyte, often called Eremomilo or Desert Melos. Kimolos, or Argentiera, less than 1 m. to the north-east, was famous in antiquity for its figs and fuller's earth, and contained a considerable city, the remains of which cover the cliff of St Andrews. Polinos, Polybos or Polivo (anc. Polyaegos) lies rather more than a mile south-east of Kimolos. It was the subject of dispute between the Melians and Kimolians. It has long been almost uninhabited.
This text is from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica.