Like the rest of Cyclades, the local and original Cycladic civilization developed in Naxos Island as early as 3,000 BC. Naxos was one of the major centres of the Cycladic culture. Around 3000BC, the main settlements appear to have been near Hora, on the hill of Kastro and at Grotta. The island was later colonised by a party from Karia, led by a son of Apollo named Naxos.
Sea trade was well established during the 7th century (archaic period). The booming in the art and especially of sculpture in that period. It was renowned for its famous Naxian marble, which was used to make the temples that adorned the major important sanctuaries of the Archaic period, such as the sanctuaries of Apollo at Delphi and on Delos.
Naxos was one of the first islands to work in marble and in the Archaic period produced the lions of Delos and Kouroi statues of increadible size. Indeed, for a period, huge was beautiful on Naxos; in 523BC the tyrant Lygdamis declared he would make Naxos’ buildings the highest and most glorious in all Greece, although only the massive lintel from the gate (Portara) of the Temple of Apollo remains on the islet of Palatia (in Naxos Town).
In the 5th century BC the island became the centre of a revolution against Ionia when Naxian sailors backed the invading Persians, who attempted to occupy the island in c. 499 BC. The strategy failed but in 490 BC the Persians once more attacked and this time sacked the island, leaving those inhabitants not slaughtered, enslaved. Consequently, in the battle of Salamis (480 BC)the Naxians, with their fleet of triremes, understandably sided with the Athenians against the Persians. In 474 BC Naxos became a member of the Delian League. However, in c. 467 BC Naxos rebelled against Athenian domination of the League but ultimately the island was brought into line and from c. 450 BC an Athenian cleruchy established a semi-dependent status on the island, albeit with a reduced tribute payable to Athens.
As with most of the islands Naxos declined in importance in the Classical age. In Hellinistic times it was governed by Ptolemy of Egypt.