The earliest inhabitants of Delos built their homes on the top of Mount Kythos, the highest peak on Delos though only 112m high, from where they could easily see any approaching vessels (read pirates/enemies) but by the 15th century BC the Mycenaeans had moved down into the valley, next to the sea. The religious sanctuary to Apollo and Artemis was established in the 9th century BC and reached its peak about 500 years later.
Though some houses had been built around the sanctuary from the 5th century BC onwards, it was the declaration of Delos as a free port in 167BC and the subsequent influx of traders, merchants, ship-owners and bankers that saw the rapid growth in the city. By 1BC it is estimated that the city housed 30,000 people and that 750,000 tons of goods were moved through its commercial harbour each year. The wealth of the city can be seen in the richly decorated, luxurious houses, with frescoes, marble-cladding, statues and beautifully detailed mosaic floors.
|View across part of the Sanctuary (including the Artemesion) towards the modern harbour/quay and, to the right of that, the area of the ancient Sacred Harbour|
|BV (4th from left) anchored just off the fairway between Delos and Nísos Megalo Remmatia. Nísos Rínía is in the background|
|Agora of the Competaliasts|
|The Sacred Way|
Model of the Sanctuary with the
palm shown with the Colossus of the Naxians
tucked in beside the temple by the palm tree
|The Sacred Harbour from the Sanctuary|
|Remains of the Colossus of the Naxians including a drawing of it from 1673 (top right). Plinth (top left), torso and pelvis moved from the statue’s original site and abandoned in the Artemesion (bottom left and right)|
In the 7th and 6th centuries BC, the dominant power in the region was the nearby island of Naxons. The Naxians built a large columned building, which was probably a temple to Apollo or a treasury for votive offerings, but which might just have been a large dining hall. Outside this was a huge marble statue of Apollo, the Colossus of the Naxians. It was approximately 9m tall, in kouros form (nude, long hair, braod shoulders, left foot just in front of right) and in his hands he held a bow and arrows or the Three Graces. The statue was so tall that even when the Sanctuary was covered in buildings, it was possible to see the statue’s head and bronze hair from the sea. The broad Avenue of the Lions ended at its base. Apparently, at some point, the huge bronze palm tree dedicated by Nicias fell over and knocked down the Colossus but the Naxians re-erected it. In 1416 an attempt was made to re-erect the statue again, but it failed and then, about 300 years later, an attempt was made to haul away the parts of the statue that remained, but that too failed as they were too heavy. Now the statue’s torso and pelvis remain abandonned near what was the Sacred Port, in front of the Artemesion; the British Museum has a section of the left leg; and the Delos Museum has the left hand.
|Temple of the Athenians|
|The Italian Agora|
|The Lions of the Naxians|
Temple near the Association of
ship owners and bankers from Beruit
|The Beruit Quarter|
|Gymnasium and Stadium Quarter|
|Sacred Lake (filled in in 1925 following a malaria epidemic)|
|Ancient Delos, Greece|