According to one account,
Tinos owes its name to the first inhabitant of the island, Tinos. During
antiquity the island was called Ophiousa because of its many snakes (“ophis”=snake)
as well as Ydrousa because of the plentiful water (“hydreia”=water-place).
One myth relates that Poseidon, the island`s protector, send a flock of storks to rid it of snakes. An important temple, at the site Kionia, was dedicated to Poseidon, who was worshipped on Tinos as the “great doctor”.
The first inhabitants of the island were probably Phrygians, Phoenicians, Carians, Pelasgians or Leleges. Later Ioanians inhabited the island.
The oldest elements of its history go back to the Mycenaean period. Two Mycenaean tombs were found by chance in area of Kyra Xeni.
During the 6th century B.C. Tinos was subject to Eritrea. When the Athenians expanded their domination to the island (after 664 B.C.) Tinos, during the time of the Athenian tyrant Peisistratos, acquired the Peisistratian Aqueduct (built 549-542 B.C.) an important work that supplied the present day town until 1934. The aqueduct began at the site Linopi.
During the 5th century B.C. the town was transferred to the site of present day Chora, and it had important relations with the over island and the rest of Greece. During the period from 3rd century B.C. to the 3rd century A.D. the Temple of Poseidon and Amphitrite flourished at the coastal site of Kionia, west of the present town. According to Strabo the temple was “worthy of goddess”.
Dionysus and Poseidon were mainly worshiped during the Prechristian period on the island.
The temple of the former was erected on the site where the Evangelistria Cathedral is today.
Excavations of the temple of Poseidon were carried out by the Belgian archeologists H.Demoulin in 1902 and P.Graindor in 1905 which brought to light the destroyed temple, its propylaia, altar, bases of statues, aqueducts, baths, a white marble sun dial by Andronicus of Macedonia and so on and so forth.
The precise date the temple was founded is unknown and the finds up to the present do not go further back than the 5th century B.C. Due to the worship of Poseidon, Tinos became an important religious center, like the one at Delos and many pilgrims, after bathing and purifying themselves on Tinos continued on to Apollo’s island. The Poseidonia or Posideia were religious ceremonies conducted in honor of Poseidon in January and February.
During the 3rd century B.C. The temple was rebuilt and extended and the worship of Amphitrite, wife of Poseidon, was inaugurated, while its fame spread throughout Greece to Lower Italy and the coasts of Asia Minor and Africa. Indeed, certain cities recognized the right of inviolable asylum there for those being persecuted.
The temple also flourished during the period 200-146 B.C. and continued to function until the 4th century A.D. when, with the establishment of Christianity on the island, it was destroyed.
Another site of archeological interest is the area of Xombourgo, which was the historical center of the island from the Geometric period to the 5th century B.C. and from the era of Chizzi family until the Turkish occupation.
Xombourgo is the present name of the rocky height (640m.) in the center of the eastern section of Tinos, the highest part of which is naturally unassailable because it is sheer on three sides.
The excavations carried out by Professor N.Kontoleon showed that on the southern and southwestern base of the mountain, in the agricultural areas of Tripotamos and Xynara, there was an extensive walled “city-state”, the probable settlement of the 12 tribes of the island, while Geometric tombs have been encountered all the way to Ktikados.
Furthermore, the Venetians established their administrative and defensive center right below the sheer peak of the mountain.