Délos is one of the islands of the Cyclades, in Greece. Tiny (3,5 km ²), arid, uninhabited for a long time, it is opposite the island of Rhénée (14 km ², uninhabited) and near Mykonos. Its slopes are soft and the Kynthos hill does not exceed 113 Mr. the port was always very poor and, as soon as the winds rise, the island is inaccessible.
She exploited a considerable part in ancient Greece, as well the commercial plan as religious; and its radiation knew its apogee on the religious level at sixth century BC It should be noted that the site of Délos was registered with the world heritage of UNESCO in 1990.
- In antiquity, it is called Lagia , the island with hares; Ortygie , the island with ruails; Prypile , carries fire; It ynthère ; Pélasgie' . Its name of Délos (visible) is explained by mythology.
Zeus immobilized this island which was floating so that Léto, continued on ground and sea by the jealousy of Héra, found finally an asylum where it could put at the world its twins, Apollon and Artémis. The island was crowned: it was not allowed to the women to be confined there; one could not bury deaths either there.
- aiant esté covered with the sea, it descouvrit and appeared all in a blow: what gave opportunity to the poets to pretend that ceste estendue of ground, avoit long time wandered with avanture, and that in end it was arrestee in the sea Ægee and put at the row of Cyclades, where Latone acoucha since of Phœbus and Diane. (Simon Goulart)
It is also told that the island would have been created:
by the dive of Astéria (sister of Léto) in the sea, to escape the continuations from Zeus;
- by Poséidon, at the request of Zeus. Of a blow of his three-pronged fork, the god of the sea made leave water two flat rocks (Délos and Rhénée).
See also: History of Cyclades
The first inhabitants of these islands would be the Carie NS coming from the minor Asia (3000 av. J. - C.) followed Mycéniens and Ioniens. They live at the top of the Kynthos hill.
As of eighth century BC, sumptuous festivals with anthems and sporting events in the honor of Apollon are organized on the island.
During, the historic buildings built on Délos are very numerous like the Lions of Délos, the Colossus of Apollo, the gallery of Naxos and the statue of Nikandra, offering with Artémis.
In 478 av. J. - C. is formed the Ligue of Délos: it is the name which the modern historians give to alliance who formed the Greek cities to fight against the Perses, after those had been driven back in Greece. The treasure of the league, controlled by Athens, is entrusted to Délos. However, this one will not be long in passing under Athenian domination and from many cultural treasures of Délos to Athens in 454 av. J. - C are transferred.
During the Peloponnesian War, an epidemic is declared on Athens that one allots to the anger of Apollo. Athens decides again, in 426 av. J. - C., a purification of the island of Délos while moving away on the close island the tombs, the people ready to die and the expectant mothers since in the spirit of this purification it was interdict to die and be born on the island from Délos.
In 422 av. J. - C., Athens orders the eviction of all the permanent inhabitants and organizes every four years, of the festivals déliennes. These pilgrimages are accompanied by dances and sporting and cultural contests, but also give place to many commercial exchanges.
Under the influence of the Macedonians, the island keeps its religious side but the trade becomes dominating and the population goes back to 25.000 inhabitants. The exchanges relate to the Céréale S, the Huile, the Vin, the Bois and the slaves. To accommodate these tradesmen come from all Mediterranean, of the temples dedicated to the gods foreign, Egyptian, Syrian, to phenicians, are built above the city.
The Romans yield the Temple of Apollo to the Athenians, proclaim the port of Délos like a free port in 166 av. J. - C. The decline starts in 88 av. J. - C.: the king Mithridate, in war against Rome, makes an incursion flash on Délos, decimates the population and destroys all on his passage. The pilgrimages disappear gradually and the pirates return not very sure trade route. The island becomes Christian at the 4th century but is abandoned at the 7th century.
One of the first " archéologues" Westerners to put the foot on Délos is Cristoforo Buondelmonti in XVe century.
The sanctuary of Apollo
The pilgrims arrived at Délos and entered the sanctuary by a route similar to the contemporary tourists. They were accommodated with the agora of Compétaliastes, the name of the Compitalia, Roman divinities honoured by the slave S and freed.
Agora of Compétaliastes, the processionary way led to the sanctuary of Apollo, preceded by one propylée in ruins. On a vast esplanade the vestiges of four temples devoted to the god remain. He drew up there also formerly a colossal statue the representative, but who underwent degradations and multiple attempts at displacement. It remains only the chest and part of the basin, a hand is preserved at the local museum and a foot with the British Museum!
Lions of Délos
To the North of the gantry of Antigone extends the Roman agora, with the crowned Lake, drained nowadays, and famous “the Terrace of the Lions” laid out here for protection symbolic system of the site. Nine at the beginning, it does not remain any more that five lions (they would be more precisely lionesses) out of marble of Paros, sheltered in the museum of the island.
Sixth is visible with Venice.
The district of the Theater
In the south-east of the port is the most luxurious district of the ancient city with the residences of Dionysos, Cléopâtre and the Dioscures. mosaic S remarkable decorate the ground of the houses of hellenistic and Roman time.
The theater of 5000 people is located right in the middle of these houses.
The drinking water supply on this arid island was solved in Antiquity by immense cisterns which collected rainwater.
The terrace of the foreign Gods
On a terrace overhanging the city, and to answer the wishes of the foreign merchants, small temples and meeting rooms are set up.
Atargatis, Aphrodite Syrian, like Isis and Sérapis for the Egyptians are venerated starting from 200 av. J. - C.
Near, one finds also the bases of a temple dedicated to Héra, older, and at good distance from the temple of Apollo, of which it had not facilitated the birth…
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