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According to mythology, the island's first colonist was the Cretan Alcaios, who built the first city on the site on which Parikia stands today. Cretans found that Paros had safe harbours to offer them, and its central position in the Cyclades made it of strategic importance. This blend of safe harbours and fertile plains round them made the island into a major naval station called Minoa.

The island was in the hands of the Cretans when the Ionians arrived in about 1.100 BC from mainland Greece. After initial defeats, the Ionians subjugated the island and destroyed the Cretan civilization. However, archaeological discoveries have shown the extent to which Paros had developed during the Minoan period.
A little later, about 1.000 BC, a bunch of Arcadians under a leader known as Paros, arrived on the island. The influence of the Arcadians seems to have been strong enough for the former Cretan colony to change its name to Paros the name of the Arcadian leader. The inter marriage of Arcadians and Ionians produced a lace which was both clever and active. They developed the island's agriculture and expanded on the neighbouring island of Antiparos which was then called Oliaros.

Trade began to develop between the Parians and the Phoenicians and Paros turned into a major maritime power which by the 8th century B.C. controlled sea communications in the Aegean, in the North and along the coast of Thrace. In 708 B.C. a group of Parians colonised the island of Thasos, which was rich in deposits of various metals. In the 6th century, the neighbour island of Naxos replaced Paros as the centre of power in the Cyclades.

During a period that is notable for conflict between the democratic and oligarchic forms of government in Paros, it was only natural that war should break out between the two islands and continue for many years.

During the Persian wars part of the Parian army fought beside the Persians and was defeated with them.
The defeat of the Persians led to the dispatch of an Athenian fleet under Themistocles, which forced the Parians to surrender. The island was now made an ally of Athens. In 338 B.C. the island came under the control of the Macedonian state, and after the death of Alexander the Great belonged for many years to the Ptolemies.

During the classical period, life on Paros was supported by the marble quarries, which produced some of the most unique building materials of the age. It was much used by sculptors, too.
There was a continuous flow of architects and sculptors from all parts of the Greek world who ordered large quantities of the famed Parian marble, and the island's production was even greater than that of Penteli, near Athens.

Among the triumphs of Parian marble, one could mention the temple of Apollo on Delos, Praxiteles' statue of Hermes at Olympia, the Venus of Milos,and the temples of Demeter and Asklepios on Paros itself

Paros became part of the Duchy of Aegean settled by the Venetain Marco Snaudi from 1207 to 1389. During this period the Ekatontapiliani was rebuilt. In the following years the island was under Frankish or Turkish occupation. During the later one the Parians were lucky enough to escape the worst effects of the Hydra-headed Ottoman taxation system, and even managed to get discounts on the tax they were forced to pay. The island suffered greatly from the Turkish-Venetian wars (1644-1669 and 1684-1699) as well as the attacks by pirates. During the 17th century, Naoussa was one of the largest pirate centres in the area. Paros was captured by the Russians during the Russo-Turkish was of 1770-7 and used as a naval base of their fleet in Aegean. After the 1821 revolution Paros became part of the new Greek state and has followed its mixed fortunes ever since.
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