The island of Delos (/ˈdiːlɒs/; 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 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 three 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.
Established as a cult center, Delos had an importance that its natural resources could never have offered. In this vein Leto, searching for a birthing-place for Artemis and Apollo, addressed the island:
Delos, if you would be willing to be the abode of my son Phoebus Apollo and make him a rich temple –; for no other will touch you, as you will find: and I think you will never be rich in oxen and sheep, nor bear vintage nor yet produce plants abundantly. But if you have the temple of far-shooting Apollo, all men will bring you hecatombs and gather here, and incessant savour of rich sacrifice will always arise, and you will feed those who dwell in you from the hand of strangers; for truly your own soil is not rich.— Homeric Hymn to Delian Apollo 51–60
|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)|
|UNESCO World Heritage Site|
|Criteria||Cultural: ii, iii, iv, vi|
|Inscription||1990 (14th Session)|
Investigation of ancient stone huts found on the island indicate that it has been inhabited since the 3rd millennium BCE. Thucydides identifies the original inhabitants as piratical Carians who were eventually expelled by King Minos of Crete. By the time 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). Indeed, between 900 BCE and 100 CE, sacred Delos was a major cult centre, where Dionysus is also in evidence as well as the Titaness Leto, mother of the above-mentioned twin deities. Eventually acquiring Panhellenic religious significance, Delos was initially a religious pilgrimage for the Ionians.
A number of "purifications" were executed 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 BCE, 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 BCE, 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 BCE, 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 BCE 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 BCE 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 BCE, 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 BCE 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 BCE, during the Mithridatic Wars with Rome. Before the end of the 1st century BCE, 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. Due to the inadequate natural sources of food and water, and the above history, unlike other Greek islands, Delos did not have an indigenous, self-supporting community of its own. As a result, in later times it was uninhabited.
Since 1872 the École française d'Athènes ("French School of Athens") has been excavating the island, the complex of buildings of which compares with those of Delphi and Olympia. 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".
In Greek mythology, Anius (Ancient Greek: Ἄνιος) was a king of Delos and priest of Apollo.Cedar Walton Plays
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The Delian League, founded in 478 BC, was an association of Greek city-states, with the number of members numbering between 150 and 330 under the leadership of Athens, whose purpose was to continue fighting the Persian Empire after the Greek victory in the Battle of Plataea at the end of the Second Persian invasion of Greece. The League's modern name derives from its official meeting place, the island of Delos, where congresses were held in the temple and where the treasury stood until, in a symbolic gesture, Pericles moved it to Athens in 454 BC.Shortly after its inception, Athens began to use the League's navy for its own purposes – which led to its naming by historians as the Athenian Empire. This behavior frequently led to conflict between Athens and the less powerful members of the League. By 431 BC, Athens's heavy-handed control of the Delian League prompted the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War; the League was dissolved upon the war's conclusion in 404 BC under the direction of Lysander, the Spartan commander.Delos, Virginia
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In Greek mythology, Leto (; Greek: Λητώ Lētṓ; Λατώ, Lātṓ in Doric Greek) is a daughter of the Titans Coeus and Phoebe, the sister of Asteria.The island of Kos is claimed as her birthplace. In the Olympian scheme, Zeus is the father of her twins, Apollo and Artemis, which Leto conceived after her hidden beauty accidentally caught the eyes of Zeus. Classical Greek myths record little about Leto other than her pregnancy and her search for a place where she could give birth to Apollo and Artemis, since Hera in her jealousy caused all lands to shun her. Finally, she found an island that was not attached to the ocean floor so it was not considered land and she could give birth. This is her only active mythic role: once Apollo and Artemis are grown, Leto withdraws, to remain a dim and benevolent matronly figure upon Olympus, her part already played. In Roman mythology, Leto's Roman equivalent is Latona, a Latinization of her name, influenced by Etruscan Letun.In Crete, at the city of Dreros, Spyridon Marinatos uncovered an eighth-century post-Minoan hearth house temple in which there were found three unique figures of Apollo, Artemis and Leto made of brass sheeting hammered over a shaped core (sphyrelata). Walter Burkert notes that in Phaistos she appears in connection with an initiation cult.
Leto was identified from the fourth century onwards with the principal local mother goddess of Anatolian Lycia, as the region became Hellenized. In Greek inscriptions, the children of Leto are referred to as the "national gods" of the country. Her sanctuary, the Letoon near Xanthos predated Hellenic influence in the region, however, and united the Lycian confederacy of city-states. The Hellenes of Kos also claimed Leto as their own. Another sanctuary, more recently identified, was at Oenoanda in the north of Lycia. There was a further Letoon at Delos.
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Islands of the Cyclades