During ancient times, Samos was an important cultural center. The beginning of Samos Island history is lost in the mist of time. It is not known exactly when it was first inhabited but it is believed that it was inhabited as far as back the Neolithic years ( 3rd millennium BC ). After joined to the Asia Minor Coast, Samos became separated from the mainland following enormous geological upheavals. According to the mythology it was the birth place of goddess Hera. By being colonized by the Ionians around the first millenium BC, it was inhabited, historians say that the first colonists of the island were Phoenicians, Leleges and Carians and also mention the Pelasgians, who brought to the island the worship of the goddess Hera. Samos knew its greatest glory in the 6th century BC.
After Polycrates death Samos suffered a severe blow when the Persian Achaemenid Empire conquered and partly depopulated the island. It had regained much of its power when in 499 BC it joined the general revolt of the Ionian city-states against Persia; but owing to its long-standing jealousy of Miletus it rendered indifferent service, and at the decisive battle of Lade (494 BC) part of its contingent of sixty ships was guilty of outright treachery. In 479 BC the Samians led the revolt against PersiaÂ
Subsequently it was dominated by the Persians during the Persian Wars, later becoming a member of the Athenian Confederacy. When Samos revolted against the alliance , the Athenians laid waste the island in revenge. It was later conquered by Macedonians, Ptolemies and Romans.
For some time (about 275-270 B.C.) Samos served as a base for the Egyptian fleet of the Ptolemies, at other periods it recognized the overlordship of Seleucid Syria. In 189 B.C. it was transferred by the Romans to their vassal, the Attalid dynasty's Hellenistic kingdom of Pergamum, in Asia Minor.
As part of the Byzantine Empire, Samos became the head of the Aegean theme (military district). After the 13th century it passed through much the same changes of government as Chios, and, like the latter island, became the property of the Genoese firm of Giustiniani (1346-1566; 1475 interrupted by an Ottoman period). During the early years of the Ottoman Empire most Samians abandoned the island.
In 1204 it became a Frankish possession, remaining in Venetian hands until 1413, when the Genoese under the Giustiniani gained supremacy and ruled the island together with Chios. In 1453 with the fall of Constantinople to the Turks, the island was abandoned, its inhabitants fleeing to Chios. In the 16th century Turkish attempts to resettle Samos succeeded. The island remained under Turkish rule till it was finally united with Greece in 1922.