This Greek God Has Been Guarding The Delos For Over Two Millennia


Delos Island which was one of the most sacred places for the ancient Greeks, because Apollo and Artemis, the two most prominent gods of the Greek Pantheon were born there. In the sixth century, a huge statue of Apollo was established on the Island which was so grand that I even cannot imagine, how the visitors would have felt when sailing towards the Delos island and when they just saw a great statue of the Apollo in the position as he is guarding the island. A great statue of its time which was clearly visible from the distance. After reading this history when I was approaching the Delos island for my visit but this time there was no guardian. No statue which I could see from the distance.

History

The Oikos of the Naxians in Delos island, Mykonos was built in the early sixth century B.C. of large granite blocks. The west entrance had two columns between the ends of the long walls. During the mid-sixth century BC., a second entrance with a marble porch was added on the east facade. The pitched marble roof was supported by eight slim Ionian columns

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There are different theories about the use of the building. Some hold that it was the earliest temple of Apollo, others that it was used to store sacred vessels and votive offerings, or yet others that it was a dining hall. Outside the northwest corner of the building is the huge marble base weighing approximately 32 tons that supported the towering Colossus of the Naxians, a statue of Apollo approximately 9 meters in height, dating to the early sixth century BC.

The god was depicted in the kouros type, nude, frontally, with long hair, sturdy shoulders, and the left foot placed slightly in front of the right. In his hands, he held either a bow and arrows or the three Graces. The surviving pieces bear the holes that served to fasten the statue’s bronze locks and belt. The god’s bright hair was visible from the sea, and the broad Avenue of the Lions ended at its base.

Even when the Sanctuary was covered with buildings, the head of Apollo was visible from all sides. According to Plutarch, the bronze palm tree dedicated by Nicias fell over and knocked down the statue. The Naxians restored it to its base and it was apparently then that they inscribed the west side of the base to Apollo from the Naxians. The east side bears one of the earliest Greek inscriptions

“[τ]ο̑ ἀϝυτο̑ λίθο̄ ε̄̓μὶ ἀνδριὰς καὶ τὸ σφέλας” (to awuto litho emi andrias kai to spelas, “I am the same stone – both statue and base”).


Discovery

However, Delos is one of the most famous archeological sites and its excavation started in eighteenth-century but before that, in 1416 the Florentine Cristoforo Buondelmonti reports that he and his comrades attempted to raise the colossus

We also saw upon a plain on Delos an old sanctuary constructed of many columns and a huge statue has fallen upon the ground, so enormous that though we were over a thousand men and had all the equipment and ropes from our ships we were unable to raise it. Thus we despaired and left it at the same location.

In 1445 Cyriacus of Ancona sketched the surviving sections of the colossus which, according to the sketch, was facing north looking towards the pilgrims who disembarked in Skardanas bay and walked down the Avenue of the Lions to reach its base and Keraton, the final point of their pilgrimage.

Sketch of Cyriacus of Ancona

Around 1675, either a British captain or the Venetian Governor of Tinos, cut off its head, all evidence of which has since disappeared. At one time an attempt was made to haul away the remaining sections but was unsuccessful.

Description

Currently, this ancient historic statue is broken into several parts. The left foot, which is now kept in the British Museum is 0.57 meters long. There was a hole in the left hand to allow it to hold a bow. The head and the upper legs have been lost.


On the sides of the upper torse, about 40 cm above the belt are holes into which the arms were fastened. On the neck are traces of ringlets.

Reference

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Colossus_of_Naxians

https://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=459768&partId=1&place=34473&plaA=34473-3-1&page=1

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