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According to ancient Greek mythology, Lemnos was the island of Hephaestus, the god of fire and volcanoes. A myth says that he landed on this island when Hera, his mother, threw him from Mount Olympus, where the Gods lived because she saw that he was an ugly baby. Hephaestus broke his leg (or hip) when he landed on the island and remained lame ever after. The people of the island took care of him and in return, the god taught them his art of ironsmith. Yet, another myth connects the history of Lemnos to Philoctetes, an ancient hero who was abandoned on Lemnos on the way to Troy. Archaeological excavations in the temple of Kavirio and the ancient site of Poliochni have brought to light early settlements from the Bronze Age.
Lemnos came under the Persian rule in the 5th century BC and joined the Athenian League after the end of the Persian Wars. The island remained under the Athenian rule for almost all the Classical Period. They reconstructed Ifestia town, which had been destroyed by the Persians, but then Lemnos went under the Macedonian domination. The Romans declared the island free in 197 BC but they gave it back to Athens in 166 BC.
After the division of the Roman Empire, Lemnos became part of the Byzantine Empire and a strong Byzantine Castle was built for its protection. The geographical position of the island and the security of its gulfs upgraded its military position. After the fall of the Byzantine Empire, Lemnos became prey to pirate raids. In 1453, it passed under the rule of the Genoese, which brought great financial and commercial prosperity. From 1462 to 1479, Lemnos was an object of wars between the Venetians and the Turks.
Venice was forced to give it to the Ottoman Empire when it became the supreme power of the Aegean. After the Greek Revolution of 1821, Lemnos, like the other Eastern Aegean islands, did not join the newly built Greek State. Lemnos was finally set free in 1912 but the island was only incorporated to the rest of Greece with a Treaty signed in 1920.