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History of Samos
History of Archaic Samos
The island of Samos has been inhabited since the 3rd millennium BC. The island had numerous names in ancient times: Doryssa, Dryoussa, Parthenia, Anthemis, Melamfyllos and Fyllas. It was initially colonised by Pelasgians, Leleges and Carians, the latter coming from Asia Minor (modern Turkey). Subsequently, Mycenaean colonisers, led by the mythical king Angaeus, settled on the island, as evidenced by coins with his image. Angaeus, who was originally from the island of Ithaca, went to Samos after the Oracle at Delphi prophesised that he went and established a colony there. According to another version, Angaeus was born in Samos and his father was the God of the Sea Poseidon. The same version also says that Angaeus took part in the Argonautic Expedition. According to Herodotus, Homer visited Samos at some point during the period 1130-1120 BC.
Between 700 BC and 532 BC, due to its strategic position Samos became an independent centre of power and protected the region of Ionia in the south-western coast of Asia Minor. During that period some of the greatest minds of Ancient Greece lived, including the famous mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras, the astronomer Aristarchus, the architect Mandrocles, who built a bridge across the Hellespont (the ancient name of the Dardanelles straits), the philosopher Melissus, the brilliant architects Rhoecus (Gr. Rhoikos) and his son Theodorus, who invented the art of casting hollow bronze statues, using exact clay models, and built the temple of Heraion, Kaleos, who was one of the first Greek sailors and the first to sail through the Pillars of Hercules (the ancient name of the Straits of Gibraltar), the painter Saurias (Savrias), who is said to have made the first step in the art of drawing by tracing the outline of a horse from its shadow cast on a wall, as well as the seal engraver Mnesarchus, the father of the mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras.
Samos reached the hey-day of its social, political and cultural development during the reign of the tyrant Polycrates (532 - 522 BC). During that period, Samos became the centre of the Ionian civilization (Ionia is the ancient name of the south-western coastal Anatolia, now in Turkey) and with its strong fleet managed to gain control over the Aegean Sea and to retain its independence from the Persian Empire. All seaside city-states (poleis) had no other choice but accepting the domination of Samos and paying high taxes in exchange for their security and independence. Thus, as time went by, Samos and its subordinate city-states emerged as a strong island state which allied with Peisistratus, the tyrant of Athens, Lygdamus, the tyrant of Naxos, and with the Egyptian pharaoh Amasis II (also spelled Ahmose II). Polycrates established a library collection which represented the most valuable achievements of human spirit by that time. Soon the library became an intellectual centre attracting the brilliant minds of the time. During the 6th century BC a lot of large construction projects were undertaken in Samos, including the extension of the city walls, the Eupalinian Aqueduct, the renovation of the Theatre and the port which is referred by Herodotus as “fort in the sea”.
The incompetent successors of Polycrates undermined the power of Samos and eventually the island fell under the rule of the Persians until 479 BC, when the Persian forces suffered absolute defeat and their fleet was destroyed in the Battle of Mycale, in which Samians took part as allies of the other Ionian city-states. After the Persian retreated, Samos regained its freedom and became a prominent member of the Delian League, which was led by Athens. Afterwards, the Samians were forced to succumb to Sparta only to fall again under Persian dominion a decade later. Samos was freed from the Persian by the Athenians, led by the statesmen and general Timotheus.
During the expansion of the Macedonian Kingdom in the 4th century BC, Samos served as a base for the military conquests of Alexander the Great (336 – 323 BC) against the Persian Empire. In Roman times, Samos, Rhodes (Rodos) and other neighbouring islands formed the Roman Provincia Insularum.
Throughout the period of the Byzantine Empire, Samos, as well as all the Aegean islands, suffered many pirate raids by Saracens, Goths, Huns and Alans. In the times of the Crusades, the Venetians gained control over the island. The Byzantines brought it back under their rule later until it was finally taken by the Genoese in 1346. In 1453, when Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, fell to the Turks, the Samians fled to the island of Chios and Samos was severely depopulated.
A century after the island of Samos was abandoned, settlers began to come there in 1562, owing to the Turkish admiral Ali Pasha who received the island as a gift from the sultan. In order to encourage Samians to return to the island, the sultan issued a firman (decree), declaring Samos autonomous and granting the Christian settlers the right to be ruled by a Christian governor. After Kilic Ali Pasha died, Samos lost its privileges and fell under direct Turkish rule.
Samos took part in the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire from its very beginning in 1821. The Samians, led by Constantinos Lachanas, overthrew the Ottoman authorities and set up a local government under the head of Lykourgos Logothetis. The Samians fought for the freedom of the island for seven years. In their revolt against the Ottomans, they were assisted by the Greek fleet commanded by the admirals Tombazis, Andreas Miaoulis and Constantinos Kanaris.
When the Greek State was established in 1827, the European Great Powers of the time (England, France and Russia) did not include Samos within the limits of the new state, although the island had practically acquired its freedom from the Turks. The Samians continued fighting for their union with Greece until 1834 when Samos was given certain autonomy, being declared a Principality under the protection of the Great Powers and was obligated to pay taxes to the Ottoman Empire. The autonomous Principality of Samos lasted for approximately 80 years, which was a period of economic prosperity for the island. In 1912, the Samians, led by Themistoclis Sofoulis, rose up against the Turks, effecting the definitive and official union of Samos with Greece on March 2, 1913.
A supreme expression of Samians’ patriotism and love of freedom was their active involvement in the political and armed National Resistance Movement against the German occupation during the period 1942 – 1944 of the World War II. The three-year bloody civil war (1946 – 1949), that ensued, left its imprint on the social developments and ideological conflicts in the country.
This was the historical background against which the three departments of the School of Sciences of the University of the Aegean were established in the town of Karlovassi in Samos.