Once a Wealthy City Now a Home of Only 14 People. The Delos Island

4

Small, rocky island, no more than 5 km long and 1.300 meters. The elite was the most sacred place for the ancient Greeks, because Apollo and Artemis, the two most important gods of the Greek Pantheon were born there

While planning my vacation in 2019, I never thought that this time my eyes will witness one extraordinary civilization remains which enclosed a history of thousands of years in it. These ancient remains still in so much good shape that it looks, they will come alive. When ferry from the Mykonos to the Delos floats over the high tides, the moment becomes a fairy tale and as we approach the Delos island, we see the first guard of the Delos island (an iron made human-sized structure). This structure simply looks like an adult man and for a second gives a butterfly in the stomach. Ocean with blue water and high tides and suddenly Delos ancient remains start visible. Once a gigantic port now looks completely empty. The historical building can be clearly seen from the port. One can easily imagine the grandness of the city.

Myth Behind the Delos

In early mythology, the first reference to Delos began with its appearance as a non-visible rock that floated aimlessly in the sea, formed when Asteria, sister of Leto, was turned into a rock following her pursuit by Zeus. He later pursued and impregnated Leto, resulting in an angry outburst by his wife, Hera, who connived with other gods to prevent Leto from giving birth anywhere in the world and under the sun. 

And so Leto wandered, yet her time drew closer to the birth. Zeus appealed to his brother, Poseidon, to help them find someplace, somewhere in the sea where Leto could rest and eventually give birth to Zeus’ child.  Poseidon then took the invisible floating rock called Adelos [the invisible] and anchored it to the sea with four columns of rock-hard diamond chains and then renamed it Delos [the visible].  This myth was so intensely believed in that it was the reason of peril for many a brave treasure hunters who lost their lives trying to retrieve those diamond chains from the sea bed.


History of Delos

A brief history of Delos (one of the Greek islands) should always be a bit amazed when comparing the size of its history. Although a small, rocky island, no more than 5 km long and 1.300 meters. The elite was the most sacred place for the ancient Greeks, because Apollo and Artemis, the two most important gods of the Greek Pantheon were born there. Residents of Dallas (2500 2500 BC) make their basic accommodation on the top of the lower hill Kanthos, from where they could easily observe the sea around the island for the coming enemies. Mycenaeans who came later (1500) BCE, felt confident enough to settle in the small valley by the sea.

By the end of 500 BC, already there were some houses and fields around the sanctuary. This city, which was seen today, developed rapidly after 167 BC. As a result of declaring Delos as an independent port, all commercial activity of the Eastern Mediterranean was gathered on the Isle. Rich businessmen, bankers, and shipowners from around the world have settled there, attracting many builders, artists, and craftsmen. They were decorated with glorious houses, rich graffiti, and mosaic floors.

The small island soon became the largest commercial center of the entire world, with the maximum emporium. The richness and friendly relations of the island with the Romans were the main reason for its destruction. Delos was attacked and looted twice in 88 BC, the King of Pontus, the enemies of the Romans, and later, in 69 BC, a colleague of mithanlates, by pirates of Athendoras, later in 69 B.C. Since then the island has been gradually dropped and rapidly fell into decline.

The Delos Site Map

Delos Site Map which can be received with tickets

There are three different paths to cover the site as per our convenience. The shortest path takes 1.5 hours which is blue lines on the map. There are other two paths as well which takes three and five hours respectively. They cover the Delos site extensively. I followed the first path due to bad weather. 

1
The Sacred Harbor
2
The Commercial ports
3
Agora of the Competaliasts
5
A market- place of the ancient town
8
Propulaea
10
The main gate to the Sanctuary
12,13,14
Three temples of Apollo
22
A huge marble base of a colossal statue of Apollo dedicated by the Naxians ca 600 BCE.
24-28
The most ancient and venerated altar, built by Apollo himself The five Oikoi, or Treasuries
30
The Prytaneion
31
The Monument with the Bulls
37
It is a long building on the east part of the Sanctuary, where warship, dedicated by king Demetrius Poliorketes by the end of 4th century BCE
38
The Ekklesiasterion
46
A temple of 6th century BCE dedicated to Leto, the mother of the twin gods
48
Northwest of the Lions housed the association of merchants, ship owners, and bankers
49
East of the Establishment of the Poseidoniasts
58
Lake Agora
59
The Lake House
60
It is a typical example of a Delian house of the late 2nd century BCE
61
Lake Palaestra
65
North of the monument there are houses and shops
66
Discussions, changing rooms, vestiaries, baths, latrines, etc
68
The twelve gods that can be seen in the Museum
71
Archegesion
72
Gymnasium
73
Stadium
74
Stadium Quarter
75
Jewish Synagogue
87
Next to it is the Sanctuary of Egyptian Deities with the temple of Isis
88
The Sanctuary of Hera
90
Grotto of Heracles
93
The House with the Masks
94
The luxurious private houses with excellent mosaic floors.
95
A hotel with an enormous cistern, and the Theater
98
We enter the Theater Quarter one of the oldest residential quarters of the ancient city. The House with the Trident
99
It is the place of wealthy residents of a shipowner or merchant.
100
The headless statues of the owners welcome the visitor to the House of Cleopatra
Human-Sized Iron Structure to Guard the Delos island

I could cover half of the island by ferry and walk. So I think that on another half a few more structures must be present. These structures are not ancient but a piece of modern art.


The Treat for the Eyes

Delos Island Hill Side View
Translation of one Monoliths Few Lines Giving Some Sense. Just for Try
The Terrace of the Lions. The crouching lions standing at the original location are replicas of the surviving ones. The original marble lions are located in the Delos museum to be protected from further erosion
Poseidoniasts From Beirut

Delos Chronologically

5000 BCE The Cyclades are first inhabited by settlers from Asia Minor.
3000 BCE – 1400 BCE
In the Cyclades, typical low-standing marble statues are produced. The first archaeological evidence of organized communities in the Cyclades. Evidence of the city’s plan and more sophisticated architecture in Cyclades Culture in the Cyclades is influenced by Minoan Crete.
1400 BCE – 1100 BCE
Culture in the Cyclades is increasingly influenced by the Mycenaean civilization of mainland Greece.
c. 700 BCE
The temple of Apollo is built on the island of Delos.
c. 550 BCE
Oldest surviving sculpture of a winged Nike found on Delos.
478 BCE
Many Cycladic states join the Athenian led Delian League as a defense against Persian aggression.
431 BCE – 404 BCE
The Cycladic city states side with Athens in the Peloponnesian war against Sparta and her allies.
377 BCE – 355 BCE
The Cycladic city states join Athens in the Second Athenian League against Sparta.
314 BCE
Antigonus establishes the League of Islanders which includes Delos.
c. 300 BCE
The theatre of Delos is built.
166 BCE
Rome gives dominion over the Cyclades to Athens.
166 BCE
Rome puts Delos under the jurisdiction of Athens and makes the island a free port.
88 BCE
Mithridates attacks and destroys the island of Delos.
69 BCE
Delos is sacked by pirates.

Planning

If you are planning to visit Delos island by ferry then planning is very important before visiting the Delos island. This site is very big and easily consume 3-4 hours. There are hundreds of interesting artifacts that will not let you leave this site easily. So well planning let you enjoy the site more. As per my suggestion, a few things can be planned

  1. Check for weather forecast
  2. Take something to eat with you
  3. Try to reach as early as possible to the Delos, so that you will have more options for return. In my case, I reached 12 PM and 2.30 PM was the last ferry. So time was very less for me. Make a note for the last ferry schedule from the Delos island
  4. Which path you will follow as per your current situation. I followed path 1 because of my kid.
  5. If possible, take a guided tour.

Tickets

The ferry is a good transportation option to visit the Delos island. The tickets can be bought at the Delos site easily. One ticket cost was 12 euros and a child below 3 years was allowed without a ticket. A guided tour can be found in Mykonos city easily. You will get one site map with the tickets. Delos ferry tickets are easily available in the Mykonos old port. Traveling from Mykonos to the Delos is quite easy.

What to visit

The Delos site is very big. So visiting all places with full interest is difficult. Plan places of interest in advance and try to spend more time. While returning from Delos try to find some space on the roof of the ferry to enjoy the sea showers.

 

c. 5000 BCE
The Cyclades are first inhabited by settlers from Asia Minor.
3000 BCE – 1400 BCE
In the Cyclades, typical low-standing marble statues are produced. The first archaeological evidence of organized communities in the Cyclades. Evidence of the city’s plan and more sophisticated architecture in Cyclades Culture in the Cyclades is influenced by Minoan Crete.
1400 BCE – 1100 BCE
Culture in the Cyclades is increasingly influenced by the Mycenaean civilization of mainland Greece.
c. 700 BCE
The temple of Apollo is built on the island of Delos.
c. 550 BCE
Oldest surviving sculpture of a winged Nike found on Delos.
478 BCE
Many Cycladic states join the Athenian led Delian League as a defense against Persian aggression.
431 BCE – 404 BCE
The Cycladic city states side with Athens in the Peloponnesian war against Sparta and her allies.
377 BCE – 355 BCE
The Cycladic city states join Athens in the Second Athenian League against Sparta.
314 BCE
Antigonus establishes the League of Islanders which includes Delos.
c. 300 BCE
The theatre of Delos is built.
166 BCE
Rome gives dominion over the Cyclades to Athens.
166 BCE
Rome puts Delos under the jurisdiction of Athens and makes the island a free port.
88 BCE
Mithridates attacks and destroys the island of Delos.
69 BCE
Delos is sacked by pirates.

 

dheaiai

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