Ancient Greece Blog

Delos

Situated in the center of the Aegean Sea, Delos was the most important island of antiquity. It was the legendary birthplace of the god Apollo, and about 800 BC, it became his holy sanctuary for Ionian Greeks.

Delos , Greece - The Terrace of the Lions

Delos , Greece – The Terrace of the Lions.

Apollo’s sanctuary attracted pilgrims from all over Greece, and Delos became a prosperous trading port. The island bears traces of the succeeding civilizations in the Aegean world, from the third millennium BC to the Paleo Christian era. The archaeological site is exceptionally extensive and rich and conveys the image of a great cosmopolitan Mediterranean port. Delos was destroyed by Mithridates VI of Pontus in 88 BC and never fully rebuilt.

Floor mosaic, Dionysos on panther (leopard), Delos, House of the Masks, c. 120—80 BC.

Floor mosaic, Dionysos on panther (leopard), Delos, House of the Masks, c. 120—80 BC. Dionysos was the God of wine, festivals, madness, chaos, drunkenness, and drugs. Dionysos’ sacred animals were the panther (leopard), tiger, dolphin, donkeys, bull, and serpent. His sacred plants were the grapevine, prickly ivy, and pine tree. Devotees of the god wore wreaths of ivy and carried pine-cone-tipped staffs.

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  • This design inspired by a floor mosaic found at the House of Masks on the Greek island of Delos.
  • Dionysos was the God of wine and festivals. Dionysos' sacred animals were the panther (leopard), tiger, dolphin, donkeys, bull, and serpent.

Today the Sanctuary of Apollo contains remains of the Temple of the Athenians, a fifth-century BC classical temple, a group of treasuries, and the Portico of Antigonus, a Macedonian king. On a terrace are archaic stone lions, symbolic guardians of the sanctuary. At the summit of Mount Kynthos are the Sanctuaries of Zeus and Athena. On the west slope of the mountain are the ruins of the late Hellenistic residential city, which include a Theater and several residences—the Houses of Dionysus, the Trident, and the Masks—which contain exceptionally fine frescoes. The archaeological excavations, which started in 1872 and are still in progress, have unearthed the Sanctuary and a good part of the Hellenistic town. The findings from the archaeological excavations are housed in the Delos Museum. Since 1990 the whole island of Delos has been designated a World Cultural Property and is protected by UNESCO.

Featured Image Credit: Romain Delanoë via Flickr/ Wikimedia Commons.

Be cheerful, enjoy your life T-Shirt
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  • Athena; Greek Goddess of Wisdom and Courage, Civilization and Justice, of Artisanal Skill and Strategic Warfare. The patron Goddess of Athens and her virtues were often represented with the Owl, for its ability to pierce through the gloam of night allows it the vision and perception to see well beyond those who are blinded by the darkness around them. In Athena the Athenians saw the virtues they sought to aspire to, and commemorated her by painting the Owl into their pottery and vases, and would even mint the unblinking and ever-vigilant Owl into their coinage.
 

 

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