Keramos is a village of northern Chios, located about 53 kilometres from the island’s capital. It’s an alpine settlement, constructed amphitheatrically at an altitude of 220 metres on the lush, tree-blanketed slopes of Amani, across from the tallest mountain on the island, Pelinaion. The village obtained its name from the local soil, the “keramitida gi” (Greek for clay-making soil), which is an ideal raw material for ceramics. Keramos is one of the most prominent settlements on Amani, and its history is intrinsically connected with the local mining and processing of antimony.
The whole area here is made up of volcanic rock rich in stibnite, from which antimony can be extracted with the proper processing. It has been known since antiquity that mixing antimony with various soft metals, such as lead, produces alloys with significantly increased hardness and mechanical strength. Its name is often mentioned as being Greek in origin: the two sections of the word, “anti”, together with, “monos”, signify that antimony is never found in its pure form in nature, but always with other elements, especially arsenic. However, the word most likely originates from an Arabic corruption of the Latin “stibium” by which the mineral was known in antiquity and from which it draws its periodic table symbol (Sb). Antimony compounds have been used in cosmetics since antiquity. Antimony was also known in its metallic (i.e. elemental) form, but for a long time it was erroneously considered to be a type of lead until research confirmed it to be a separate element. Pliny the Elder described various ways of producing medical antimony trisulfide in his monumental Naturalis Historia (Natural History), while he also identified two types of antimony, “male” and “female”. It’s likely he viewed antimony trisulfide as the “male” antimony and the natural metallic antimony as the superior, heavier and less brittle “female” antimony. The process of isolating antimony was first described by Vanoccio Biringuccio in his 1540 work De la pirotechnia.

Visitors to Keramos can see the ruins of the mining facilities, which continued to function until the mid-1960s. The Keramos antimony mines stand as a unique and vital monument of Greece’s industrial archaeology and heritage.
Also of note is that the village once had five functioning olive presses. Visitors can see these derelict presses, together with their machinery, even today. The village port is Agiasmata, a settlement widely known in the modern day for its spa and thalassotherapy installations. The local parish church of St Panteleimon celebrates on 27 July.

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