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 Local History

 

The beginning of the history of Samos is lost in the mists of time. We do not know exactly when the island was first colonized, but it is believed that it was inhabited as far as back as the Neolithic period (3rd millennium BC). Historians believe that the first colonists of the island were Phoenicians, Leleges and Carians, and also the Pelasgians, who brought to the island the worship of the goddess Hera. The place-names Samos, Imrrassos, Chesios and Astypalaia show a connection with Asia Minor and the languages of the Leleges and Carias.

The arrivals from Asia Minor were followed by an influx of Myceneans who are traditionally supposed to have been the companions of the mythical king Angaeus (1300 BC), a monarch who had taken part in the Argonaut expedition and who was recognized by all the ancient authorities as the founder of the city of Samos.

The history of Samos in prehistoric times is closely linked with the goddess Hera who was believed to had been born on the island. In the 7th century BC, the Ionians built the famous Temple of Hera on the ruins of an earlier prehistoric temple.

Samos reached the pinnacle of its development in the middle of the 1st millennium BC when it was governed by the tyrant Polycrates (532 - 522 BC). It was then that Samos grew into a great naval power and founded its own colonies. A new kind of ship with 50 oars, the famous Samaina, was developed in the shipyards on the island.

For many years, Samos remained the bridge between Greece and the East. Using its naval might to maintain its dominance, it managed to remain independent while flourishing socially and economically, despite many attempts to conquer the island. During that time, Samos produced many men of genius, such as the astronomer and mathematician Aristarchus, who was the first to study the movement of the earth.

Other noteworthy inhabitants of Samos were Callistratus, who was responsible for founding and establishing the 24-letter alphabet; the architects and sculptors Rhoikos and Theodoros, who built the famous temple of Hera; the painters Saurias, the first painter to use chiamoscuro in his work, and Calliphon, painter of a number of master works which adorned the temple of Artemis at Ephesus.

But the most exceptional of all these figures is Pythagoras (582 BC 496 BC), philosopher, mathematician and musician. Pythagoras was known best for founding the Pythagorean brotherhood and formulating the theorem that bears his name. Often referred to as "the father of numbers", he made influential contributions to philosophy and religious teaching in the late 6th century BC. Pythagoras and his students believed that everything was related to mathematics, and believed that all things could be predicted and measured in rhythmic cycles.

Today, Samos is regarded as one of the most beautiful of the Hellenic islands. An island populated by courteous and hard-working people who follow in the footsteps of their great ancestors.