17 October 2020
Delos is a Greek island and archaeological site in the Aegean Sea’s Cyclades archipelago, near Mykonos.
The mythological birthplace of Apollo, it was a major religious center and port during the 1st millennium B.C.
The island’s ruins encompass Doric temples, markets, an amphitheater, houses with mosaics and the iconic Terrace of the Lions statues.
The Archaeological Museum displays statues excavated from the site.
A perfect location in the Aegean sea
The archelogical site of Delos is perhaps unique, in that it is located on a small, narrow, barren island 5 km long and 1,300 m wide.
The island is devoid of vegetation but resplendent in the sunlight, mainly on account of its rock formations, that rise a short way above the azure sea.
The highest elevation on the island (112 m) is Kynthos, beneath which spreads the sanctuary dedicated to Apollo and his sister Artemis, with the Hellenistic city around it.
The birth place of Apollo
The sanctuary, in which there had been a cult since Mycenaean period (ca. 1400 BC), began to be placed on an organised basis in the 7th c. BC.
The Odyssey and the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, written about 700 BC, refer to Delos as a famous religious centre of the Ionians.
At this period, the dominant power in the region was the neighbouring island of Naxos, which demonstrated its superiority by erecting on Delos buildings and dedications, such as the House of the Naxians, the colossal statue of Apollo, and the Terrace of the Lions oppsite the Sacred Lake and the Sacred Palm-tree where, according to the myth, the Titaness Leto brought the blond-haired Apollo into the world.
In the 6th c. BC, the artistic influence of Naxos was succeeded for a short time by that of Paros, though Athens, the major power, ultimately asserted its political and cultural authority over the sacred island.
A major commercial city
A large city of about 30,000 inhabitants grew up around the sanctuary of the Hellenistic period. It evolved into a major commercial port of the central Aegean, and was destroyed in 88 BC by Mithridates, king of Pontus.
The high-quality floor mosaics may be admired in situ in the ancient houses, amongst them the mosaics of the House of Dianysos, the House of the Masks, the House of the Dolphins and the House of the Tritons.
[sources: LonelyPlanet. Best of Greece & The Greek Islands]
Delos Archeologic Museum
The Delos Museum has one of the most important collections of the history of ancient Grek sculture, and a unique collection of objects relating to private life in the Hellenistic period. It houses a large number of scultures from the Archaic period down to late Hellenistic times (7th-1st c. BC), an abundance of pottery from various island and Corinthian workshops, mainly dating from the 7th and 6th c. BC, and from Attic 6th c. BC workshops, and also a great quantity of clay figurines and miniature works of art.
Our picture of the private life of the Delians in the Hellenistic period is completed by pottery and a variety of objects and material relating to everyday life, as well as mosaics and wall-paintings.