Samos (Greek Σάμος; Turkish Sisam; see also List of traditional Greek place names) is a Greek island situated in the Eastern Aegean Sea, off the coast of Turkey, on what formerly was Ionia. It is located between the island of Chios to the North and the archipelagic complex of the Dodecanese Island to the South and in particular the island of Patmos.
Samos , Satellite Images, Greece
Kerketeas mountain in the West part of Samos [Source]
Description and natural conditions
The area of the island is 468 square kilometres, and it is forty-three kilometres long and thirteen kilometers wide. It is one of the principal and most fertile of the islands in the Aegean Sea that closely adjoin the mainland of Asia Minor, from which it is separated by a strait of only about a mile in width. It is about 27 miles in length, by about 14 in its greatest breadth, and is occupied throughout the greater part of its extent by the Kerketeus range of mountains, of which the highest summit is peak Vigla at 1,433 metres above sea level, near its western extremity, called Mount Kerkis, is 4725 ft. high. This range is in fact a continuation of that of Mount Mycale on the mainland, of which the promontory of Trogilium, immediately opposite to the city of Samos, formed the extreme point. The island is remarkably fertile, and a great portion of it is covered with vineyards, the wine from the Vathy grapes enjoying an especially high reputation. The island's population is about 42,000 about 80% of the prefectural population.
With the neighbouring islands of Icaria and Fourni Korseon, the island of Samos is administered as part of the Samos Prefecture. Its capital and main port is the city of Vathy, most commonly called Samos; other ports are Karlovasi and Pythagoreio, formerly called Tigani (see also Samos Prefecture).
The nearest airport is Samos Airport. Vathi is the main passenger port
Its climate is typically Mediterranean.
Products include tobacco, Samian wine, honey, olive oil,citrus fruit, dried figs and almonds. The Muscat grape is the main crop used for wine production. Its principal traditiobal article of export is Samian wine, which was celebrated in ancient times, and still enjoys a high reputation in the Levant. It exports also silk, oil, raisins and other dried fruits.
Early and Classical Antiquity
In classical antiquity the island was a centre of Ionian culture and luxury, renown for its Samian wines and its red pottery (called Samian ware by the Romans). Its most famous building, was the Ionic order archaic Temple of goddess Hera - the Heraion. Concerning the earliest history of Samos literary tradition is singularly defective. At the time of the great migrations it received an Ionian population which traced its origin to Epidaurus in Argolis. By the 7th century B.C. it had become one of the leading commercial centres of Greece. This early prosperity of the Samians seems largely due to the islands position near trade-routes which facilitated the importation of textiles from inner Asia Minor. But the Samians also developed an extensive oversea commerce. They helped to open up trade with the Black Sea and with Egypt, and were credited with having been the first Greeks to reach the Straits of Gibraltar. Their commerce brought them into close relations with Cyrene, and probably also with Corinth and Chalcis, but made them bitter rivals of their neighbor Miletus. The feud between these two states broke out into open strife during the Lelantine War (7th century b. C.), with which we may connect a Samian innovation in Greek naval warfare, the use of the trireme. The result of this conflict was to confirm the supremacy of the Milesians in eastern, waters for the time being; but in the 6th century the insular position of Samos preserved it from those aggressions at the hands of Asiatic kings to which Miletus was henceforth exposed. About 535 B.C., when the existing oligarchy was overturned by the tyrant Polycrates (q.v.), Samos reached the height of its prosperity. Its navy not only protected it from invasion, but ruled supreme in Aegean waters. The city was beautified with public works, and its school, of sculptors, metal-workers and engineers achieved high repute.
The Heraion of Samos
In classical times the island was a center of Ionian culture and luxury, known for its wines and its red pottery (called Samian ware by the Romans). Its most famous building, for a brief time, was the archaic Ionic Temple of Hera (Heraion), built by the architects Rhoikos and Theodoros c. 540 BC, which stood opposite the cult altar of Hera in her sanctuary.
Pythagorio, on the south-eastern coast of Samos
The Eupalinian aqueduct
In the 6th century BC Samos was ruled by the famous tyrant Polycrates. During his reign, two working groups under the lead of the engineer Eupalinos dug a tunnel tunnel through Mount Kastro to build an aqueduct to supply the ancient capital of Samos (now called Pythagoreion) with fresh water, as this was of utmost defensive importance (since -being underground- was not easy to be detected by an enemy who could otherwise cut off the supply). The method Eupalinos employed to make the two groups meet in the middle of the mountain, is documented by Hermann J. Kienast and other researchers. With a length of 1,036 metres, today the Eupalino's subterranean aqueduct is famously regarded as one of the masterpieces of ancient engineering. Pythagoras Was Born Here.
In the 6th century BC Samos was ruled by the famous tyrant Polycrates.
During his reign, two working groups under the lead of the engineer Eupalinos dug a tunnel through Mount Kastro to build an aqueduct for supplying Tigáni (the capital of Samos) with water, which was of utmost stragetic importance. It is not documented, which method Eupalinos employed to make the two groups meet in the middle of the mountain. With a length of 1036 meters, the tunnel today is known as one of the masterpieces of ancient engineering.
Persian Wars and Persian rule
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 it joined the general revolt of the Ionian city-states against Persia; hut owing to its long-standing jealousy of Miletus it rendered indifferent service, and at the decisive battle of Lade (494) part of its contingent of sixty ships was guilty of outright treachery. In 479 the Samians led the revolt against Persia.
During the Peloponnesian War (431–-404 BC), Samos took the side of Athens against Sparta, providing their port to the Athenian fleet. In the Delian League they held a position of special privilege and remained actively loyal to Athens until 440, when a dispute with Miletus, which the Athenians had decided against them, induced them to secede. With a fleet of sixty ships they held their own for some time against a large Athenian fleet led by Pericles himself, but after a protracted siege were forced to capitulate and degraded to the rank of tributary state. At the end of the Peloponnesian War Samos appears as one of the most loyal dependencies of Athens; it served as a base for the naval war against the Peloponnesians, and as a temporary home of the Athenian democracy during the revolution of the Four Hundred at Athens (411 nc.), and in the last stage of the war was rewarded with the Athenian franchise. This friendly attitude towards Athens was the result of a series of political revolutions which ended in the establishment of a democracy. After the downfall of Athens Samos was besieged by Lysander and again placed under an oligarchy. In 394 the withdrawal of the Spartan navy induced the island to declare its independence and reestablish a democracy, but by the peace of Antalcidas (387) it fell again under Persian dominion. It was recovered by the Athenians in 366 after a siege of eleven months, and received a strong body of military settlers. After the Samian War (322), when Athens was deprived of Samos, the vicissitudes of the island can no longer be followed.
Even so the island followed the fate of the Ionian cities, being subjugated to the Persian empire. During the Peloponnesian War (431-–404 BC), Samos took the side of Athens against Sparta, providing their port to the Athenian fleet.
Famous Samians of Antiquity
Perhaps the most famous persons ever connected with classical Samos were Pythagoras, the Samian, and one slave who belonged to Iadmon, whose name was Aesop famous for his Aesop's Fables. His name and figure are found on coins of the city of imperial date. In 1955 the town of Tigani was renamed Pythagoreio in honour of the famous mathematician.
Other notable personalities include the philosopher Epicurus, who was of Samian born. The astronomer Aristarchus of Samos, whom history credits with the first recorded heliocentric model of the solar system, also lived in Samos. The historian Herodotus, known by his Histories resided in Samos for a while.
It was also conspicuous in the history of art, having produced in early times a school of sculptors, commencing with Rhoecus, also the architect of the temple of Hera. Another Samian was the great sculptor and inventor Theodorus, who are said to have inventedwith Rhoecus the art of casting statues in bronze. Another famous Samian sculptor, also called Pythagoras, migrated to Rhegium.
The vases of Samos are among the most characteristic products of lonian pottery in the 6th century. The name Samian ware, derived from a passage in Pliny, N.H. xxxv. 160 sqq., often given to a kind of red pottery found wherever there are Roman settlements, has no scientific value.
Perhaps the most famous persons ever connected with classical Samos were Pythagoras and a slave who belonged to Iadmon, whose name was Aesop (famous for Aesop's Fables). In 1955 the town of Tigáni was renamed Pythagório to honour the famous mathematician. Other notable personalities include the philosopher Epicurus, who was born on the island. The astronomer Aristarchus, whom history credits with the first recorded heliocentric model of the solar system, lived on Samos. As did the great sculptor and inventor Theodorus. Herodotus (known for his book The Histories ) lived in Samos for a time.
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 Seleucian Syria.
In 189 B.C. it was transferred by the Romans to their vassal, the Attalid kingdom of Pergamum, in Asia Minor.
Enrolled from 133 in the Roman province of Asia [Minor], Samos sided with Aristonicus (132) and Mithradates (88) against its overlord, and consequently forfeited its autonomy, which it only temporarily recovered between the reigns of Augustus and Vespasian. Nevertheless, Samos remained comparatively flourishing, and was able to contest with Smyrna and Ephesus the title first city of lonia; it was chiefly noted as a health resort and for the manufacture of pottery. Since Emperor Diocletian's Tetrarchy it became part of the Provincia Insularum, in the diocese of Asiana in the eastern empire's pretorian prefecture of Oriens.
Byzantine & Genoese Era
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), .
At the time of the Turkish conquest it was severely depopulated, and had to be provided with new settlers, partly Albanians. It belonged to the Ottoman Empire since 1533, as part of Elayet of Djeza'ir-i Bahr-i Sefid until the year 1832.
The Battle of Samos 1824
During the Greek War of Independence, Samos bore a conspicuous part, setting up a revolutionary government under the following heads of local government:
It was in the strait between the island and Mount Mycale that Canaris set fire to and blew up a Turkish frigate, in the presence of the army that had been assembled for the invasion of the island, a success that led to the abandonment of the enterprise, and Samos held its own to the very end of the war. On the conclusion of peace, the island was indeed again handed over to the Turks.
After repetitive rebellions, since 1835 it held an exceptionally advantageous position, being in fact self-governed, a semi-independent state tributary to Turkey, paying the annual sum of 2700, governed by a Christian governor of Greek nationality but nominated by the Porte, who bears the title of Prince (compare hospodar) of Samos. As chief of the executive power the prince was assisted by a senate of four members, chosen by him out of eight candidates nominated by the four districts of the island: Vathy, Chora, Marathocumbo and Carlovasi. The legislative power belonged to a chamber of 36 deputies, presided over by the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan. The seat of the government was Vathy (6000). The consecutive 'princely' governors were:
The prosperity of the island pleaded for this arrangement. The population in 1900 was about 54,830, not comprising 15,000 natives of Samos inhabiting the adjoining coasts. The predominant religion is the Orthodox Greek, the metropolitan district including Samos and Icaria. In 1900 there were 634 foreigners on the island (523 Hellenes, 13 Germans, 29 French, 28 Austrians and 24 of other nationalities).
The modern capital of the island was, until the early 20th century, at a place called Khora, about 2 m. from the sea and from the site of the ancient city; but since the change in the political condition of Samos, the capital was transferred to Vathy, at the head of a deep bay on the North coast, which has become the residence of the prince and the seat of government. Here a new town has grown up, well built and paved, with a convenient harbour.
Samos Liberation and recent History
The popular sentiment for merger with the Greek state of Hellas was not satisfied until 1913 when it was included in Greece as a result of the Balkan Wars.
On August 3, 1989, a Shorts 330 aircraft of the Olympic Airways (now Olympic Airlines) crashed near Samos Airport; thirty-one passengers died.
Pythagoreio Harbour [Source]
The ancient capital, which bore the name of the island, was situated on the S. coast at the modern Tigani, directly opposite to the promontory of Mycale, the town itself adjoining the sea and having a large artificial port, the remains of which are still visible, as are the ancient walls that surrounded the summit of a hill which rises immediately above it, and now bears the name of Astypalaea. This formed the acropolis of the ancient city, which in its flourishing times covered the slopes of Mount Ampelus down to the shore. The aqueduct cut through the hill by Polycrates may still be seen. From this city a road led direct to the far famed temple of Hera, which was situated close to the shore, where its site is still marked by a single column, but even that bereft of its capital. This fragment, which has given to the neighboring headland the name of Capo Colonna, is all that remains standing of the temple that was extolled by Herodotus as the largest he had ever seen, and which vied in splendour as well as in celebrity with that of Diana at Ephesus. Though so little of the temple remains, the plan of it has been ascertained, and its dimensions found fully to verify the assertion of Herodotus, as compared with all other Greek temples existing in his time, though it was afterwards surpassed by the later temple at Ephesus.
Sources and references