The island was inhabited as early as the late Neolithic period (4000 B.C.). In 408 B.C. the three major cities of the island - Ialyssos, Kamiros and Lindos - founded the city of Rhodes. The three centuries that followed were the golden age of Rhodes. Sea trade, skilled shipbuilders,and the careful and open-minded political and diplomatic manoeuvres of the city kept it strong and prosperous until Roman times.
In the same period, Rhodes produced excellent artistic work. The most celebrated of all was the Colossus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, made between 304 and 293 B.C. by the Lyndian sculptor Hares. The construction of the Colossus took 12 years and was finished in 282 BC. For years, the statue, representing their sun god Helios, stood at the harbour entrance, until a strong earthquake hit Rhodes about 226 BC. The city was badly damaged, and the Colossus was demolished.
The urban plan of ancient Rhodes reflects directly the urban and philosophical ideas of the famous ancient Greek planner, Hippodamus. The street plan of the ancient city is known due to decades of archaeological excavations. The building blocks (insulae) measure 47.70X26.50 m and all have the same dimensions. They included 3 houses each and were surrounded by streets 5-6 meters wide. Greater units constituted areas surrounded by wider streets (8-11 meters). Every area included 36 insulae or 108 houses. The ancient city had an extended and well-constructed sewage system as well as a water supply network