The Greek island of Samos, which lies in the beautiful, warm waters of the Aegean Sea, certainly boasts a fascinating and long history, as in ancient times it was a wealthy state and held much in the way of power and even of a well-developed culture.
The Eupalinian Aqueduct is a marvelous piece of engineering and a Unesco world heritage site, and when one learns it was built in the 6th century B.C., it nicely sums up how Samos was one of the world’s centres of rich culture and civilization during the ancient times.
We know it was a leading centre of commerce as early as the 7th century B.C. and prominent member of the Ionian League. Its proximity to trade routes was probably responsible for its economic wealth and cultural opulence. Classic pottery and fine wines were at the forefront of its wealth and luxury even during the era of the Roman Empire.
Before the arrival of the Romans, Samos went through a series of wars with Persia, which eventually led to Persian rule of the island. But Samos – under the combined strength of a united Ionian-led revolt – did regain power but had to stifle a series of battles against the Persians.
Several decades later, in 431 B.C., Samos found itself at war again when it took the side of the Athenians against Sparta. The 27-year war, heralded as the Peloponnesian Wars, resulted in defeat for Samos but the punishment dished out this the city-state was not as bad as what some of the Ionian Islands suffered.
Samos was forced to repay huge sums of money to Athens but eventually became a loyal dependency to the powerful Athenians. In 411 B.C., the Athenian fleets even used the island of Samos as a naval base when sailing out on raids against Peloponnesians. But as Athens began to fall, so too did Samos. In the 4th century B.C., it underwent a series of raids by the Persians and Lysander.
When the Romans invaded the island, it was forced to reside as part of the Asia Minor region. It often sided with enemies of the Romans but throughout its time under the Roman rule it still managed to remain a centre of wealth and culture.
During the Middle-Ages, Samos fell under the rule of the Ottoman Empire and war, piracy, plague and devastation depopulated the island until it was totally abandoned for about a century. However, the Ottomans strived to make Samos great again in the late 16th Century and ultimately managed at to do so.