Thursday, October 16, 2008



Delos, a small island roughly in the middle of the Cyclades, was a major sacred site in ancient times, second in importance only to the Apollo Temple at Delphi. Religious capital of the Ionians for many years, the island was, according to Greek mythology, the birthplace of Artemis and Apollo. Leto, their mother, having been banned by Hera, the jealous wife of Zeus, their father, found the support of Poseidon, who provided her with Delos as a place to give birth!

When in 478 BC the Persians were defeated, the Athenians created the Delian League, with its headquarters at Delos. The League had a famous treasury, transferred to the Acropolis in 454 BC. In 426 a decree forbade being born or dying at Delos. The island reached the top of its prosperity in late Hellenistic and Roman times, being a free port and the financial centre of the Mediterranean, with 10,000 slaves sold daily. However, in 88 BC, the King of Pontus, Mithridates, attacked the island, killing or putting into slavery the whole population of 20,000 inhabitants. Delos never recovered, and was gradually abandoned.



"FROM THE SEA - Delos, 5 km north to south, 1.3 km from east to west, and rising only to 112 m at Mount Kynthos, was included in the UNESCO's World Heritage List in 1990. It has been the object of huge excavations by the French School of Archaeology since 1872"

"THE AVENUE OF THE LIONS - One of most famous sights of Delos is the 50m long Avenue of the Lions. These five marble lions, guardians of the Sacred Lake, are replicas; we'll see the originals in the museum. They are part of nine erected in the second half of the 7th century BC by the Naxians. One of those, headless, removed in the 17th century, guards now the Arsenal of Venice"

"MUSEUM - The Archaeological Museum contains most of the interesting items found in the excavations on the island"

"LIONS - These are the original marble lions dedicated to Apollo by the Naxians at the end of 7th century BC; they stood facing towards the Sacred Lake (now completely dried to avoid diseases)"

"MOSAIC - The wonderful mosaic of the House of Dionysus. It shows a winged Dionysus riding a panther, with vine branches around the neck"

"PHALLUS - The emblematic symbol of the orgiastic rites that took place during the Dionysian festivals was brought from the Sanctuary of Dionysus to the Museum".

"SANCTUARY OF THE BULLS - A long and narrow structure probably built to display a boat dedicated to Apollo"

"THE SACRED WAY - The route of the procession to the sanctuary of Apollo during the holy Delian festival that, as well as the Delian games, took place every four years"

"THE HOUSE OF DIONYSUS is a luxury private residence dating from the last quarter of the 2nd century BC. 5.6 m high columns show the grandeur of the house. In the centre of the court there is a cistern covered with the famous mosaic floor"

"THE HOUSE OF CLEOPATRA is named after the headless statue of Cleopatra, an Athenian lady; Dioskourides, her equally headless husband, stands also on a pedestal"

"THE HOUSE OF THE TRIDENT is another beautiful house with a wonderfully kept mosaic floor in the main reception room, depicting a dolphin swimming around an anchor"

"THE HOUSE OF DOLPHINS has the best preserved mosaics in Delos. This one at floor of the impluvium shows a large rosette with concentric motives. In the corners, we may see the dolphins after which the house was named".


"ISIS TEMPLE - Delos was quite tolerant in religious terms, and there was even a Sanctuary of Foreign Gods. The most impressive was probably the Sanctuary of the Egyptian Gods, with its beautiful Temple of Isis, now restored"

"THE THEATRE, built in the 3rd century BC, has 26 rows of seats in the lower section and 17 in the upper section. The ellipsoidal form assured a good view to the more than five thousand spectators"



Anonymous said...

I’m sorry I had no time to reply to your comments on the last two posts, but I’ll try to catch up as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience!
Meanwhile I made this post on a somehow magic place: Delos, Apollo’s birthplace, but also a great tribute to Dionysus! Hope you enjoy!

Ron said...

Wow, very nice place. Your pictures are amazing, never a cloud in the sky.

Great history lesson as well. This is a must to visit for me someday. Looks like a beautiful place.

Rhonda Hartis Smith said...

So much history not to mention beauty. When I was a child, I wanted to be an archaelogist and dig in the pyramids of Egypt--such a dreamer! But your pictures are so awesome, makes me wish I had become one after all!

Rakesh Vanamali said...

Blue skies and Earthy artifacts....unlike anything I have ever seen before!



PS: The Roman Statue without the olive crown?? ;)

Anonymous said...

Oh, I wanted yesterday to ask about Delos and now I got it!
I remember best all things about Delos during our cruise from an island to other four years ago.
I have also photos just from same objects as your photos are.
Those lions I will remember for ever!
And the history of this island.
Thank you so much!

Oman said...

amazing shots. i would just love to stroll over there and just be awed by the beauty of the place. great job.

Anonymous said...

great religious and cultural place of ancient Greece. excellent presentation

eye in the sky said...

as usual, just like stepping into a dream. avenue of the lions looks spectacular!

Indrani said...

Hi Gil, I am back from vacation.

You have posted yet another great post with pictures crisp and clear! :) Must have been a great feeling walking through the ruins, I am sure.

virtualjourney said...

What an interesting post. Liked the lions. Ten out of ten...!!

Nihal said...

Bonjour Gil,
Wow! How great this archaeological site to be cosmopolitan Mediterranean port. To what I know is that this tiny island bears the traces of the succeeding civilizations in the Aegean world, from the 3rd millennium B.C. to the palaeochristian era besides its religious importance as the birth-place of Apollo.
With my best wishes for a happy fall weekend.

RuneE said...

I would have loved to take a camera to a place like this - but I would never have come home again! As it is - thank you fort the guided tour.

S-V-H said...

I like the picture of the actress and the Roman statue!..LOL... and of course also all the other great shots and the interesting text. Thanks for guiding us trough all those famous places, Gil. It's a big pleasure to travel with you and your wife! :-)

Unknown said...

Ha Gil, you make me dream again, always wanted to go there and am living it via your blog. here's wishing you and your wife a wonderful weekend..tks for your kind wishes, I am much better now :D

Shionge said...

Indeed a magical place and once again enjoying all the beautiful photos :D

Cutie said...

I enjoy your post a lot as you put a lot of beautiful pictures. And this place is indeed full of history. It's really nice to be able to visit such a place.

PeterParis said...

As always, complete and well documented! All is impressive, but my preference goes for the fabulous mosaics!

10000 slaves a day?

hpy said...

It's quite certain that like Dionysos I too would have a lot of wine, not only around me, but also inside me, in order to ride a panter, or even a lion. Stoned, I would be... Cheers!

Mariposa said...

wow..the Roman looked so life-like..interesting sculpture, not to mention the actress too!

Wonderful post. You make history fun =D

Twin said...

Thank you for taking us to this trip! I enjoyed the "journey" :)

adelynne said...

I am reading a book now, called "The Dream-Hunter", which is based on Greek and Atlantean mythologies. It's awesome. And now, I can come to your site and view pictures of Greece. Talk about great! :D Thank you, GMG!

MedaM said...

This is another very impressive and informative post with so many wonderful and interesting details and ruins of ancient times. I only can imagine how wonderful feeling is to experience it in private. But I am very much pleased with your excellent way to share all these beauty with us. Thank you for that.
As for the previous post, when I saw it my first impression was of white and blue; white buildings and blue sea and the sky. Wonderful!

Anonymous said...

I won't be around to see it but I do hope this land becomes a vast wilderness again and the monumental cities of New York and Chicago and San Francisco have disappeared into ruins, giving archeologists new challenges.

Isn't that interesting.

alicesg said...

Very beautiful place and they have a rich history. I can see that both you and your mrs have a great time there. Have a nice weekend trotter. :)

Joy said...

Your photos take me to places and 'time' I haven't visited. This post is wonderful because you and your wife look so happy! Marvellous blue skies!

Thanks for visiting Norwich Daily Photo and leaving your comments. Enjoy your weekend!

A Pinay In England
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NormanTheDoxie said...

That is magical! We're (planning) on planning a trip to Greece next year.
I showed my partner your photos and he's ready to travel.... though it will be difficult getting him to a museum. He's more of the outdoors-y typel.

~vagabond~ said...

Your website is simply amazing! I had such a good time looking around, and reading up your posts on the many, many places you've been to. Will be dropping by here more often now. :)

Azer Mantessa said...

great roman statue!

ahaks :))))

fantastic pictures of the historical site.

alice said...

Mais dis donc, ça devient un peu olé olé par ici! ;-))

alice said...

Plus sérieusement, as-tu lu "La joueuse d'échecs", délicieux petit livre qui se déroule à Naxos?

Marguerite-marie said...

je viens de dérouler quelques posts en retard...c'est super de voyager dans ces belles Ïles si colorées; un peu de vacances virtuelles qui font du bien.Dans ce dernier billet on ne peut qu'apprécier la statue romaine etl'actrice prête au spectacle.

Chuckeroon said... comment got lost, I think....anyway, a really heady mixture here. Lots to think about.

Dina said...

These archaeological treasures are thrilling!
Enjoyed the human "statues" too.

Nikon said...

Beautiful series as usual, Gil! The composition is great with those white columns shooting into the blue sky.
The Roman God, lol!
And, goodness! A phallus museum :-)

Anonymous said...

I liked the Roman statue and the actress the best. :) Seriously though Gil I think this is my most favorite post so so fascinating.

Glad you could make it to my Halloween party. Did you get a sip of witches brew while you were there? ~ Lynn

Thérèse said...

The mosaic floors are incredible as well as the lions!

Anonymous said...

Magical indeed!


Maria Verivaki said...

you've done beautifully in your presentation of delos. as i live on a greek island, it's always a chanllenge to get to another greek island on holiday, but delos is the one island i've always wanted to visit in greece - but I'll have to go through mykonos first...

Anonymous said...

The mosaics are superb and still in such remarkable condition.

kuanyin333 said...

Loved the dolphin mosaic floor, and the statues aren't bad either--especially the human ones.

Daniel Chérouvrier said...

What a pity I ouldn't look at your blopg when I was in my first year of "collège" when we studied this era.

Tinsie said...

I have to say, that Roman statue looks remarkably like a Portuguese guy I know. Hmmmmm...

Stella Bella said...

brilliant photos! ;) Enjoyed looking at them! Cheers!

lv2scpbk said...

Wonderful shots of the stones and artwork. I like the poses of you and your wife. My husband and I do that too sometimes on vacation. Although, we don't go on vacation much. Lol.

Ki Kiey said...

nice pic u have:]

thanks 4 drop by in my blog.

i'll link ur blog.

raccoonlover1963/Lisa Myers said...

Very interesting post. Great pics as well. The second picture looks like volcanic rock. Am I correct?

Lakshmi said...

Mythology particularly Greek fascinates me..and the post is wonderful..I have so many books on greek and roman mythology that I often dream of visiting these places

Anonymous said...

Hi everybody! Next week will be most probably even worse than usual, so I’ll try to reply to your comments right now… ;)

Amazing the fact that there are no clouds in the sky, but there is no Photoshop in there… ;)

Archaeologist wouldn’t have been a bad choice… ,)

No olive trees around; actually, no trees at all… ;)

The lions of Delos are unforgettable!

You better start packing… ;)

Thanks; quite flattering coming from a Greek national!!

Eye in the sky,
It’s not Dreamland, but it surely is a land of dream!!

Great to see you back! Shall try to find some time to get to your lovely blog!

You’re not alone in loving those lions… ;)

You’re absolutely right: Delos «bears the traces of the succeeding civilizations in the Aegean world». For some reason, probably also related to its location, Delos was an important centre: religious, but also commercial!!

There are some people living there for years; they belong to the French Archaeology School of Athens. Want to try your chance? ;))

Now that you draw the attention to it, must confess that those statues look quite well!! ;)

Making you dream is quite flattering! Thanks!

Magical, that’s the word!!

It’s a wonderful experience, and if you’re interested on learning about its glorious past, you’ll be quite thrilled!!

The mosaics are awesome! As for the slaves, it’s incredible indeed. I hardly believed when I heard it; but then it seems there is a discussion in other sources: «There is a dilemma in attempting an assessment of the Delian maritime trade. Some ancient sources who give the impression that Delos was a major trading port in the Mediterranean. These are Strabo, 14.5.2 ("... for not only were the slaves easily captured, but the market, which was large and rich in property,..., I mean Delos, which could both admit and send away ten thousand slaves on the same day" [transl. Loeb]), Pausanias 3.23.2-4 ("Delos was then a Greek market, and seemed to offer security to traders on account of the god" [transl. Loeb])…» [Marietta Horster]. Amazing! ;))

I’m with you in the homage to Dionysus… ;))

Those statues look great, don’t you agree? ;))

Thanks for your comment; first time here, I believe! Glad to see that you enjoyed!!

Great coincidence! Glad to help…

Thanks! The white and blue is omnipresent! You’ll see that in my next post!!

Can’t imagine NYC as an archaeological site… Better said: wouldn’t like to see NYC as an archaeological site…
Cities may be around for many years, seeing Athens, Rome… Lisbon is here for more than a thousand years and survived an incredible earthquake in 1755… OK, I know what you mean!! ;)

Ãlice SG,
We had an excellent time… ;)

It was quite joyful, this trip!!

Delos would be perfect; almost everything is outdoors, but is an outdoor museum… ;) For the restaurants and disco, Mykonos is just across the sea… ;))

Great to see you here, commenting for the first time! Would be lovely to see you back!

Roman statue and Greek actress… ;)

C’est vrai que le commentaire était un erratique… ;)
Je n’ai pas lu le livre; mais tu m’as soulevé la curiosité! Alors, je suis allé à la FNAC online pour faire la commande du petit livre de Bertina Henrichs sur la femme de chambre de l’hôtel Dionysos… - Indisponible, dit-il! Je dois essayer d’une autre façon… ;))

Disons que la couleur peut devenir un peu mono chromate: bleu et bleu… ;) Mais c’est vrai que c’est magnifique en tout cas… ;)

Thanks for coming back!!

The statues also enjoyed the pose… ;)

You were the only one to notice or at least to mention! Amazing Dionysus… ;))

Thanks! Witches brew, that’s it… ;))

Lions are impressive, but the mosaics are actually an incredible survival!!


Can understand that living in Crete, it would hardly make sense to holiday on other islands… But they deserve the voyage!!

Mark H,
The mosaics are a proof of endurance!!

I’m starting to think that the statues are the best… ;))

Well, never too late… ;)

They are crazy, these Romans; English version of Asterix’s «Il sont fous ces Romains»…


You should take some vacation… ;)

Thanks! Good luck for your exams!!

All those islands are volcanic; actually islands are either continental (New Caledonia, Cuba…), volcanic (most of them) and coral…

Greek mythology is amazing; no wonder your interest!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Busy weekend for me so I'm just now getting a chance to drop by and say hello. Delos and the museum was so interesting. It us amazing what has survived through the ages!

Great looking Roman statue too ;-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking your time here! It survived because it had been buried... Amazing! ;)

Louise said...

So many absolutely wonderful artifacts and ruins. The lions are my favorite. (I like the old ones better, but the new ones are not too bad, either!)

Anonymous said...

Those lions made an impressive avenue; they were nine or twelve, depending on the sources... ;)

Pietro Brosio said...

As usual, wonderful photos, with a very interesting text.
I like a lot the Avenue of the Lions, and all the other beautiful views.

Anonymous said...

That Avenue must have been an impresive way some twenty two centuries ago...

Emery Roth said...

This series truly was a treat. If you read the comment I left on my own blog, you probably realize I confused Delphi with Delos. I don't think I was aware of the ruins that survive at Delos. Truly remarkable! Nor did I know so much about the history. Thank you for this fact-filled and evocative trip.

Anonymous said...

Thanks! According to Wikipedia, «Apollo had two cult sites that had widespread influence: Delos and Delphi. In cult practice, Delian Apollo and Pythian Apollo (the Apollo of Delphi) were so distinct that they might both have shrines in the same locality»! No wonder the confusion...

Ketty said...

I like the Temple of Apollo most. Those who love ancient, spiritual and historical sites, would love this place. Here you feel peace and comfort. Temple of Apollo having a amusing story about god Apollo. It may be myth but I do believe in all these stories, and why not there are many unanswered questions on this earth.
Delphi Greece

GMG said...

Thanks for the visit and comment! Apollo has always a certain appeal... ;)