The island history originated after a territorial separation from the coast of Asia.
During the years of its existence, the island was inhabited by a mixture of nations and accepted a mixture of civilizations. The island passed sequentially from pre-Greeks to Dorians in 1000 BC, after that to the Venetians, to the Knights of St. John in 1310 AD, to the Turks in 1552 AD, in order to return to the Greek state in 1948.
Tilos has been inhabited ever since the Neolithic era (8000-7000 BC), to which the important and impressive paleontological findings of prehistoric elephants bear witness. Their skeletons were found after the excavations that took place in Charkadio cave. Other excavations prove the Minoans and subsequently the Mycenaeans also lived on Tilos, as in other Dodecanese islands. The island was also inhabited by the Pelasgians and this can be seen from the walls that were found.
Herodotus spoke of the golden age of Tilos in the 7th century BC, during which Tilini of Gelas colonized Sicily with Tilos islanders and Lindos residents.
In the 5th century BC, Tilos became part of the Athenian confederacy and remained dependent upon the island of Rhodes, until it passed to the Romans. The richness of the archaeological finds dating from the Roman and early-Christian times reflects the island prosperity.
As long ago as 350 BC, the poet Irinna was born on Tilos and at an early age became inspired by the rich and diverse natural beauty of the island, the variety of its landscapes and the surrounding Aegean Sea. The island's prosperity continued until the great earthquake of 550 AD. After that, Tilos followed the history of Rhodes, with which it was unified.
During the Byzantine era Tilos together with Nisyros, Kos and Samos constituted the Prefecture of Samos. The Knights of St. John inhabited the island and rebuilt or built three of the castles that exist on the island.
In 1522 the island became part of the Ottoman Empire and was under the special financial and administrative status of “maktou” islands.
Finally, in 1948 Tilos returned to the modern arms of its maternal Hellenistic past.