The history of Naples is long and varied. The first Greek settlements were established in the Naples area in the 2nd millennium BC. During the end of the Greek Dark Ages a larger mainland colony – initially known as Parthenope – developed around the 9-8th century BC, and was refounded as Neápolis in the 6th century BC: it held an important role in Magna Graecia. The Greek culture of Naples was important to later Roman society. When the city became part of the Roman Republic in the central province of the Empire, it was a major cultural center.