The island of Delos 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 French School at Athens 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 two conical mounds (image below) 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.
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. Italian traders came to purchase tens of thousands of slave 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.
Due to the above history, Delos – unlike other Greek islands – did not have an indigenous, self-supporting community of its own. As a result, in later times it became uninhabited. 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”
Archaeological Museum of Delos
The Archaeological Museum of Delosis 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.
The museum’s notable collection of funerary statues and grave stelae ranging from the 7th to the 1st century BC form the bulk of the collection. Its ancient pottery collection dates from the 25th to the 1st century BC, while the clay figurines, jewellery and mosaics conserved in the museum date back to the 2nd-1st centuries BC. Six rooms contain the statues and reliefs found in Delos;,two rooms contain the pottery and another room contains items used in everyday life in ancient Greece.
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