According to some, the island was named after Tinos, its first settler. Aristotle mentions that it was also called “Hydroessa” in the Antiquity, due to its many springs (“ydor” means water in ancient Greek), as well as “Ophiussa”, as there were many snakes (“ophis” in ancient Greek) on the island, too. The ancient proverbial phrase “Tinian sufferings”, used to describe the misfortunes that plagued the residents due to the “Tinian vipers” of Hesychius, probably originated from that fact.
According to an ancient tradition, Poseidon was worshipped as the “great healer” on the island, because he had sent a big number of storks to exterminate the snakes of Tinos. Based on that tradition, Brochardt tried to prove in 1681 that the word “Tinos” and its Doric form “Tanos” derive from the Phoenician word “Tenok” which means snake or dragon.
The ancient mythographer Apollodorus claims that Hercules killed Boreas’s sons, Zetes and Calais, on Tinos and placed two columns upon their tombs, one of which moved every time the north wind was blowing. This myth, which has several variations, is connected to the strong winds and especially the north winds that blew over the island making navigation difficult. According to the ancient Greeks, they originated from Thrace.
Traces of human existence since the Early Cycladic period (3rd millennium BC) have been discovered in Tinos. A Mycenaean vaulted tomb with grave goods that was found at Agia Thekla on the cape of Agios Ioannis dates back to the 13th century BC. Remnants of the ancient city’s walls during the Archaic, Classical and probably the Mycenaean period, too, have been discovered on the foothills of Exombourgo, at the centre of the island, while tombs of the Geometric period have been found in Kardiani.