Samos is an island in the Aegean Sea, located off the western coast of Asia Minor (present-day Turkey). About 180 square miles in area, Samos was settled by Ionian Greeks who migrated from mainland Greece around 1000 B.C. The settlers strengthened their navy and gained control of a thin strip of the mainland of Asia Minor, as well as of trade between the Aegean and Asia Minor. Samos established colonies in Thrace, southeast Asia Minor, and southwestern Italy.

Samos reached the peak of its power during the late 500s B.C., when it was governed by the tyrant* Polycrates. The island became well known for its metalwork and wool. Architects, sculptors, and artisans* from Samos were famous throughout the region. The philosopher* Pythagoras was born on the island but left around 530 B.C. Samos joined the Delian League, an alliance of Greek states under the leadership of Athens. Samos attempted to secede from the league in 441 B.C. but was prevented from doing so. However, Samos later sided with the Athenians during the Peloponnesian War in the late 400s B.C. For their support, the Samians received Athenian citizenship in 405 B.C. But the next year the island fell to the Spartan general Lysander. During the next century, Samos was controlled by numerous outside powers, including Athens and the Persian Empire. During the Hellenistic* period, Samos was controlled by the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt, the Seleucid dynasty of Syria, the Macedonians, and the kingdom of Pergamum. In 129 B.C. Samos was annexed* by the Romans. (See also Ionians; Migrations, Early Greek; Naval Power, Greek; Tyrants, Greek.)

* tyrant absolute ruler

* artisan skilled craftsperson

* philosopher scholar or thinker concerned with the study of ideas, including science

* Hellenistic referring to the Greek-influenced culture of the Mediterranean world during the three centuries after Alexander the Great, who died in 323 B.C.

* annex to add a territory to an existing state

If you find an error or have any questions, please email us at Thank you!