Plan of a portion of Delos

(from Greek Island Hopping 2007, Thomas Cook Publishing)

Site plan of ruins below Mt. Kynthos, Delos

(from Greek Island Hopping 2007, Thomas Cook Publishing)

  • said to be the birthplace of Apollo and, according to some accounts, his sister Artemis

  • the island was originally a goddess named Asteria, who flung herself into the sea to escape Zeus’s unwanted advances
    • she became a floating island

  • Asteria was later anchored to the seafloor and became known as Delos (‘the seen one’
    • some sources say she was granted this anchoring for agreeing to be the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis


  (Unless other indicated, all dates are B. C.)

  • traces of human habitation date to ca. 2000

  • Ionians came to the island ca. 1000, bringing with them the worship of Apollo

  • island was a major religious center by 700, with Naxians controlling the Sanctuary of Apollo

  • Athenians conduct first purification in 543, removing from the island all graves within sight of the Temple of Apollo

  • in 478, Athens makes the island the headquarters of the Delian League, a defense bloc against the Persians
    • the League’s treasury is kept on the island until Pericles moves it to Athens in 454

  • Athenians conduct second purification in 426, removing all graves from Delos and decreeing that no one shall be born or die on the island

  • in 422, Athens exiles all Delians to Asia Minor
    • they return in the following year

  • Delos declares independence from Athens in 314

  • the island was known for its large-scale slave trade

  • Romans settle in Delos in 250 and return the island to Athenian control in 166

  • as many 30,000 people may have lived on Delos at the beginning of the 1st century

  • Mithridates sacks Delos in 88
    • the island goes into a steady decline


  • once every four years the island hosted the Delia, festivals and games in honor of Apollo

    

            A in the first plan above

  • constructed near the end of the 2nd century B. C.

  • divides the religious and business districts of Delos

  • contains a small, round building dedicated to Hermes, god of commerce

  • takes its name from competialistes, a union of freedmen and slaves
    • their patron deities were the Lares Compitales, who were Roman gods of crossroads

  • postholes for market awnings are still visible

  • guildsmen erected monuments here


    

  • leads to the Sanctuary of Apollo

  • was flanked by votive offerings, statues, and vases


   

           D - G in the first plan above

  • entrance is from the south, where the Athenians built propylaia around the middle of the 2nd century B. C.
    • to replace an earlier entry way

  • in the sanctuary is the Oikos of the Naxians
    • built in the 7th century B. C.
    • roof was made of Naxian marble, which was a technical marvel in its day
    • its purpose is unknown

  • next to the Oikos was a colossal statue (29.5 ft tall) of Apollo as a kouros
    • only pieces of this statue remain today (near the Artemision)
    • it seems that the statue was cut into pieces to be transported elsewhere, but the plunderers gave up (one of the hands is in the Delos museum and one of the feet in the British Museum)
    • Pausanias relates that the Athenian general Nikias came to Delos (probably in 417 B. C.) and erected a bronze palm tree, which, when it was blown over in a storm, toppled the statue of Apollo
      • the statue was, of course, set up again
      • the inscribed base of Nikias’ bronze palm is still visible in the southwest corner of the sanctuary
 
 
 
Below: remnants of the colossal statue of Apollo in a 1673 drawing by Seger de Vries;
Above: photograph of the same scene today
(from Dr. Fotini Zaphiropoulou,
Delos: Monuments and Museum, Krene Editions, 2007, p. 18)


    

            H in the first plan above

  • buillt in 478 B. C.

  • dedicated to Apollo

  • only peripteral temple on Delos


    

            N in the first plan above

  • sometimes called the Square Market (because of its shape)

  • contains the Oikos of the Naxians


    

            O in the first plan above

  • rectangular platform

  • flanked on both sides by a pillar with a giant phallus

  • the pillar on the south side depicts, in relief, scenes from the Dionysiac circle
    • was erected ca. 300 B. C. by Karystios to celebrate a winning theatrical performance, which he sponsored


    

            P in the first plan above

  • on the north side of the Sanctuary of Apollo

  • built in the second half of the 3rd century B. C. by Antigonos Gonatas, king of Macedonia

  • colonnade consisted of 47 Doric columns

  • every second triglyph bears a carved, painted bull's head


    

            Q in the first plan above

  • public well, hewn in the rock

  • built in 6th century B. C.

  • about 13 ft deep

  • a 4th B. C. inscription lists the fines for washing anything—including oneself—or throwing anything into the fountain

  • an inscription says that it was reconstructed in 166 B. C.

  • the granite column in the center supported the roof that was part of the reconstruction


    

            R in the first plan above

  • sacred to Artemis

  • built ca. 175 B. C. on the site of an Archaic, which replaced a Mycenaean temple

  • best known today as the site of the remains of the colossal statue of Apollo


    

            W in the first plan above

  • temple dedicated to Leto, mother of Apollo and Artemis

  • built ca. 540 B. C.

  • only Archaic temple on Delos outside of the sanctuaries of Apollo and Artemis

  • the large area north of the Sanctuary of Apollo was said to be the Letoon
    • which is a testament to the importance of Leto
  • faces south, which is unusual
    • but this orientation causes it to look towards the sanctuaries of Apollo and Artemis


    

            X in the first plan above

  • built at end of 2nd B. C.

  • paid for by wealthy merchants who did business on Delos


    

            Z in the first plan above

  • created at the end of the 6th century B. C.

  • carved from Naxian marble

  • opinions vary on the original number of lions
    • somewhere between 9 and 19
    • the five that now remain on Delos are in the museum on the island
      • the body of one of the Delian lions now sports a replacement head and guards the Arsenal in Venice, Italy


    

             in the first plan above

  • called sacred because it witnessed the birth of Apollo and Artemis

  • kept dry today to suppress bacteria and disease-carrying insects

  • the palm tree at its center was planted in 1925


    

             in the first plan above

  • built in the late 2nd century B. C. by Syrian merchants

  • housed an association of merchant warehousement, shipowners and innkeepers

  • has been rebuilt in the modern era

  • inscription on the architrave translates as “The Koinon of Berytian Poseidoniasts, merchants and ship owners and inn-keepers, dedicated the oikos and stoa and chresterion*, to the gods of the fatherland.”
    • *seat of an oracle

  • included a statue of Roma in addition to images of Baal (Poseidon), Astarte (Aphrodite), and Eshmun (Asklepios)

  • in 1904, a statue of Aphrodite, Pan, and Eros was found in the remains of the building
    • the statue’s inscription reads in translation, “Dionysos, son of Zenon who was son Theodoros, from Beirut dedicated [this offering] to the ancestral gods for his own benefit and that of his children”
    • the statue is now in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens


    

            D in the second plan above

  • built in 138/7 B. C.

  • belonged to two Athenians–Dioskourides and Cleopatra (not the Egyptian Cleopatra)

  • the statues in the house are reproductions
    • the originals are in the island’s museum


    

            E in the second plan above

  • lavish private house

  • built in 2nd century B. C.

  • takes its name from a mosaic on the floor of one of its rooms, depicting Dionysos riding a tiger


    

            F in the second plan above

  • named for a trident mosaic on one of its floors

  • also has a mosaic depicting a dolphin swimming around an anchor


    

            G in the second plan above

  • built in 3rd century B. C.

  • seated 5500

  • has 26 rows of seats in the cavea and an additional 17 rows in the epitheatre, above the diazoma

  • remains of the stage-building (skene) are still visible

  • a gutter around the orchestra drained rain water into the Theatre Cistern, located just below the theatre
    • its roof, now missing, rested on eight arched foundations


    

            J in the second plan above

  • lavish private house

  • built in the Hellenistic period

  • takes its name from a mosaic featuring 10 theatrical masks, which depict characters from New Comedy


    

            K in the second plan above

  • lavish private house

  • built in the Hellenistic period

  • takes its name from a mosaic in the impluvium*, depicting erotes riding dolphins
    • *cistern to collect rainwater, a common feature of Roman-style homes


    

            L in the second plan above

  • built ca. 500 B. C., replacing an earlier temple to Hera

  • two columns survive


    

            M in the second plan above

  • dates to the 3rd century B. C.

  • contained a statue of Herakles

  • a circular marble altar stands before the door


    

            P in the second plan above

  • built in late 3rd or early 2nd century B. C.

  • repaired by Athenians in 135 B. C.

  • Doric in design

  • houses a cult statue of Isis, which bears an inscription dating it to 128 B. C.
    • much more Greek than Egyptian in style

  • the high altar of the goddess is in front of the temple

  • temple has been reconstructed in modern times


    

            Y in the second plan above

  • built in 4th century B. C.

  • remains of three stories are visible

  • the columns of the ground floor atrium and of the peristyle on the second floor have been restored

  • exact purpose/use of the building is unknown
    • considerable wear of the thresholds bespeaks a great deal of use