Delos : The Sacred Island
The small island of Delos groups together a unique set of records for Greek history beginning from the 3rd millennium BC until the 7th century AD. The monuments of Delos, which have been recognised as World Heritage and protected by UNESCO, were always subject to a special welfare and assistance for the Ministry of Culture of Greece and diverse organisations around the globe.
Despite the difficulties, finally on the
island in recent years an important project of Conservation, restoration and shaping has been taking place, gradually transforming this unique archeological area more legible and friendly to the multitudinous visitors. The poets from Homer and Pindar until Antipater and Scheffer hymn the island that was the birthplace of Apollo, the most Greek god, who was characterised by all those special features that the Greek civilisation bequeathed to mankind: light, standards, balance, harmony.
The history of Delos is interwoven with mythology, as it was the birthplace of Apollo, son of Zeus, and therefore a sacred place. The position was also set in mythology, since before being named Delos ( means visible), it was a floating wandering rock called Ortygia or A-dilos - latent (invisible). The mother of Apollo, Leto, the first wife of Zeus before Hera, was looking for a safe place to give birth to her baby, away from the eyes of jealous Hera. Neptune anchored the rock in the absolute centre of the four points of the compass with respect to the position of the Aegean Sea. Located almost equidistant to the mainland in the northwest, with Chios and Rhodes to the east, south Crete and the Peloponnese in the west. The position of Delos, is exactly in the centre, this is how Cyclades, took their name (circle around Delos). Its geographical position attracted the ancient Greeks, like other sites holding geometrical important positions in their elaborate mathematical approach to geography, such as Delphi. The creation of these myths, given the island's location, it was just a matter of time. Thus the mythology connected to history as the geographical position of actually brought great wealth to Delos as Leto, mother of Apollo promised.
Since Delos was sacred place where splendid buildings and sanctuaries existed, it was never actually forgotten and there are many references by travellers regarding the remains that were visible on the island. Many sculptures were transferred to museums in Greece and abroad, while marbles of ancient buildings were used as building material by the inhabitants of the surrounding islands. Delos will climb back from obscurity only in the 19th century, with the excavations which began in 1873 by the French School at Athens and the Greek Archaeological Service. From 1904 to 1914 the most important parts of ancient Delos were revealed under the direction of M. Holleaux and thanks to the generous grant from the Duke de Loubat. Period of intense excavation activity was also the period from 1958 to 1975. The excavation is still ongoing by the Greek Archaeological Service and the French Archaeological School, but the centre of religious, political and commercial life and a large part of private homes of the archeological sit have already been disclosed.
Delos is directly and materially associated with one of the principal myths of Hellenic civilisation. It was on this arid islet that Leto, made pregnant by Zeus and fleeing the vengeance of Hera, gave birth to Apollo and Artemis after a difficult labor. According to the Homeric hymn composed circa 700 B.C., the island which until then had been floating became anchored to the floor of the ocean. The newborn Phoebus- Apollo threw off his swaddling clothes, bathed the universe in light and began walking with his cithara and his bow. Kynthos, the mountain of Zeus, and the wheel-shaped lake close to which the pregnant Leto suffered labor pains for nine days and nights, remain essential landmarks of the island's sacred geography, which was clearly defined by the additions made to the Delian sanctuary to Apollo between the 6th and the 1st centuries B.C.
...Delos is a place that one must see while visiting the central Aegean. The vibrant ambience of the island shows the power of this land from the moment you set your foot to it. You can also have a preview in the video below :
DELOS 2015, documentary, 25 ', color, English version, 2015
Direction: Andonis Theocharis Kioukas
Starring: George Corraface
Screenplay: Alexandra Dimou-Dimitris Karavolas Cinematography: Konstantinos Arvanitakis
Music: Platon Andritsakis
Sound: Theodoris Melis
Executive Producer: Thalia Kalafata
Producer: Qkas Productions