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According to archaeological excavations, it is believed that Samos was inhabited during the Neolithic years (3rd millennium BC). The first colonists of the island were the Pelasgians who worshipped Hera, the Phoenicians, the Leleges, and the Carians. Those colonists were succeeded by the Mycenaeans. Samos became a great power during the 6h century BC when it was ruled by the tyrant Polycrates who managed to turn the island into a huge naval power. Under its rule, the arts and sciences flourished and the Eupalinus Tunnel and the magnificent Heraion (Sanctuary of Hera) were built.
The history of Samos has been marked by some famous personalities, such as the astronomer Aristarchus, the first to argue that the sun was the center of the universe, the philosopher Epicurus, the fable writer Aesop and the famous mathematician Pythagoras. Samos honored Pythagoras by giving his name in one of the villages (Pythagorio village), a square in Vathi and there is also a cave on the island where Pythagoras is said to have hidden while tyrant Polycrates, his political opponent, was chasing him. During the Battle of Plataea (479 BC), the Samians helped Athens to win and then allied to it and returned to democracy. Samos also took place in the Battle of Mykale and, with the rest of the Greek navy, defeated the Persian fleet.
During the Peloponnesian Wars, the island was taken by the Spartans. Then it came under the rule of the Romans, the Venetians, and the Genoese. In 1453, Samos came under the domination of the Turks, along with the rest of the North Eastern Aegean Islands. The inhabitants of the island played an important role during the Greek Revolution against the Turkish yoke, in the beginnings of the 1820s. But the Great Powers gave the island back to Turks in 1830, making it semi-autonomous and being ruled by a Christian prince. This period is called Hegemony and was characterized by an amelioration of the fortunes of the inhabitants and by tobacco trades. Samos was reunited to the rest of Greece in 1912, after the Balkan Wars. Now its economy is based on tourism, agriculture, and fishing.