|Native name: |
General view of Delos
|Area||3.43 km2 (1.32 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||112 m (367 ft)|
|Highest point||Mt. Kynthos|
|Pop. density||4/km2 (10/sq mi)|
|Criteria||Cultural: ii, iii, iv, vi|
|Inscription||1990 (14th session)|
The island of Delos ( // ; Greek : Δήλος [ˈðilos] ; Attic: Δῆλος, Doric: Δᾶλος), near Mykonos, near the centre of the Cyclades archipelago, is one of the most important mythological, historical, and archaeological sites in Greece. The excavations in the island are among the most extensive in the Mediterranean; ongoing work takes place under the direction of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Cyclades, and many of the artifacts found are on display at the Archaeological Museum of Delos and the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.
Delos had a position as a holy sanctuary for a millennium before Olympian Greek mythology made it the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. From its Sacred Harbour, the horizon shows the three conical mounds that have identified landscapes sacred to a goddess in other sites: one, retaining its Pre-Greek name Mount Kynthos,is crowned with a sanctuary of Zeus.
Investigation of ancient stone huts found on the island indicate that it has been inhabited since the 3rd millennium BC. Thucydides identifies the original inhabitants as piratical Carians who were eventually expelled by King Minos of Crete. By the writing of the Odyssey , the island was already famous as the birthplace of the twin gods Apollo and Artemis (although there seems to be some confusion of Artemis' birthplace being either Delos or the island of Ortygia). Between 900 BC and 100 AD, Delos was a major cult centre where Dionysus and Titaness Leto, mother of the twin deities Apollo and Artemis, were revered. Eventually acquiring Panhellenic religious significance, Delos was initially a religious pilgrimage for the Ionians.
A number of "purifications" were performed by the city-state of Athens in an attempt to render the island fit for the proper worship of the gods. The first took place in the 6th century BC, directed by the tyrant Pisistratus who ordered that all graves within sight of the temple be dug up and the bodies moved to another nearby island. In the 5th century BC, during the 6th year of the Peloponnesian war and under instruction from the Delphic Oracle, the entire island was purged of all dead bodies. It was then ordered that no one should be allowed to either die or give birth on the island due to its sacred importance and to preserve its neutrality in commerce, since no one could then claim ownership through inheritance. Immediately after this purification, the first quinquennial festival of the Delian games were celebrated there. Four years later, all inhabitants of the island were removed to Atramyttium in Asia as a further purification.
After the Persian Wars the island became the natural meeting-ground for the Delian League, founded in 478 BC, the congresses being held in the temple (a separate quarter was reserved for foreigners and the sanctuaries of foreign deities). The League's common treasury was kept here as well until 454 BC when Pericles removed it to Athens.
The island had no productive capacity for food, fiber, or timber, with such being imported. Limited water was exploited with an extensive cistern and aqueduct system, wells, and sanitary drains. Various regions operated agoras (markets).
Strabo states that in 166 BC the Romans converted Delos into a free port, which was partially motivated by seeking to damage the trade of Rhodes, at the time the target of Roman hostility. In 167 or 166 BC, after the Roman victory in the Third Macedonian War, the Roman Republic ceded the island of Delos to the Athenians, who expelled most of the original inhabitants. Roman traders came to purchase tens of thousands of slaves captured by the Cilician pirates or captured in the wars following the disintegration of the Seleucid Empire. It became the center of the slave trade, with the largest slave market in the larger region being maintained here.
The Roman destruction of Corinth in 146 BC allowed Delos to at least partially assume Corinth's role as the premier trading center of Greece. However, Delos' commercial prosperity, construction activity, and population waned significantly after the island was assaulted by the forces of Mithridates VI of Pontus in 88 and 69 BC, during the Mithridatic Wars with Rome. Before the end of the 1st century BC, trade routes had changed; Delos was replaced by Puteoli as the chief focus of Italian trade with the East, and as a cult-centre too it entered a sharp decline.
Despite its decline, Delos maintained a sizeable population through the Roman Imperial period and into Late Antiquity. Evidence has been found of Roman baths, coins, an aqueduct, residential and elite houses, as well as multiple churches, basilicas and a monastery all from the 1st - 6th centuries AD.The pottery found indicates that produce, like wine and oil, continued to be imported from regional centres. There are also a number of wine presses amidst the ruins of the ancient city that date to this period, suggesting that the population at this time was engaged in considerable viticultural endeavour.
Delos was eventually abandoned around the 8th century AD.
In 1990, UNESCO inscribed Delos on the World Heritage List, citing it as the "exceptionally extensive and rich" archaeological site which "conveys the image of a great cosmopolitan Mediterranean port".
Iamblichus writes that there were Delos Mysteries (similar to the Eleusinian Mysteries).
The 2001 Greek census reported a population of 14 inhabitants on the island. The island is administratively a part of the municipality of Mýkonos.
Apollo is one of the Olympian deities in classical Greek and Roman religion and Greek and Roman mythology. The national divinity of the Greeks, Apollo has been recognized as a god of archery, music and dance, truth and prophecy, healing and diseases, the Sun and light, poetry, and more. One of the most important and complex of the Greek gods, he is the son of Zeus and Leto, and the twin brother of Artemis, goddess of the hunt. Seen as the most beautiful god and the ideal of the kouros, Apollo is considered to be the most Greek of all the gods. Apollo is known in Greek-influenced Etruscan mythology as Apulu.
The Cyclades are an island group in the Aegean Sea, southeast of mainland Greece and a former administrative prefecture of Greece. They are one of the island groups which constitute the Aegean archipelago. The name refers to the islands around the sacred island of Delos. The largest island of the Cyclades is Naxos, however the most populated one is Syros.
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This article concerns the period 479 BC – 470 BC.
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Mykonos is a Greek island, part of the Cyclades, lying between Tinos, Syros, Paros and Naxos. The island has an area of 85.5 square kilometres (33.0 sq mi) and rises to an elevation of 341 metres at its highest point. There are 10,134 inhabitants according to the 2011 census, most of whom live in the largest town, Mykonos, which lies on the west coast. The town is also known as Chora.
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Rineia or Rhenea (Ρήνεια), anciently Rheneia or Rhenaia (Ῥηναῖα), or Rhene (Ῥήνη), is a Greek island in the Cyclades. It lies just west of the island of Delos and further southwest of the island of Mykonos, of which it and Delos are administratively a part. Its area is 14 km2 (5 sq mi). It had a small population until the 1980s, but is currently uninhabited. In ancient times the island was subdued by the tyrant Polycrates of Samos and dedicated to the Delian Apollo; and the southern half of the island was the necropolis of Delos. In the sixth year of the Peloponnesian War (426 BCE), the Athenians purified Delos. They removed all the tombs from that island, and declared it to be unlawful henceforth for any living being to be born or die within it, and that every pregnant woman should be carried over to the island of Rheneia in order to be delivered.
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The Archaeological Museum of Delos is a museum on the island of Delos, near Mykonos in the South Aegean, Greece. It is noted for its extensive collection of statues unearthed in the surrounding area of the ancient site, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although the museum has a considerable collection, it does not contain all of the items found in Delos: a large quantity are on display in Athens at the National Archaeological Museum.
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The mosaics of Delos are a significant body of ancient Greek mosaic art. Most of the surviving mosaics from Delos, Greece, an island in the Cyclades, date to the last half of the 2nd century BC and early 1st century BC, during the Hellenistic period and beginning of the Roman period of Greece. Hellenistic mosaics were no longer produced after roughly 69 BC, due to warfare with the Kingdom of Pontus and subsequently abrupt decline of the island's population and position as a major trading center. Among Hellenistic Greek archaeological sites, Delos contains one of the highest concentrations of surviving mosaic artworks. Approximately half of all surviving tessellated Greek mosaics from the Hellenistic period come from Delos.
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