Delos, center of the Greek universe, continued

House of Dolphins’ floor with two dolphins surrounded by an intricate Greek key design and border of ocean waves. The Trident House contains a lovely representation of olive branches circling an elaborate amphora.

Delos was the place of significant annual religious and athletic festivals with featured choral competitions. The choirs which won dedicated phallic monuments to Apollo, acknowledging the debauchery and wanton revelry rampant during the celebrations. Don’t miss the remains of these statuesque tributes outside the sanctuary of Dionysus between the stadium and the temples.

Raiders were a constant threat to this under-fortified commercial nucleus so the streets in the residential quarter were narrow and twisting. Many ten-foot-high walls still stand, so you can feel the clustered shops and homes huddled together for protection.

Inside are remains of stone benches and tables, jars, bowls, basins, and amphoras for storage of liquids. Stone mortars identify a bakery, and a slanted table with drains for carving meat and boning fish delineates a butcher shop.

An Elysium for photographers, few areas on Delos are restricted, promoting unlimited opportunities to walk into ancient buildings, to touch statues, sit on marble benches and appreciate the existence of this densely populated city of long ago.

On display in the small museum are statues, pottery and artifacts including the original lions hewn from creamy Naxion marble. A mild hike to the Temple of Isis, midway up 370 ft. Mount Kynthos the island’s highest point (“Mound” Kynthos is more accurate) affords a spectacular view of Homer’s wine dark sea and eight neighboring islands: Naxos, Paros, Soros, Tinos, Ekati, Rhenea, Ikaria, and Mykonos.

Gazing down from the top of Mount Kynthos, it’s easy to visualize sailing ships laden with food and consumer goods waiting to dock, generations of shoppers in the thriving agora, and processions of Greeks bearing gifts to the Apollian temples.

In another millennium Delos flourished but was susceptible to and ruined by the political and religious influences of more powerful neighbors.

Quiet Delos is mythic and mystic, a haunting place emitting an aura of timelessness. Deserted except for sea birds, sparse vegetation, an occasional archaeologist, and the remnants of a sophisticated civilization, the wind blows across the hillsides and through this once wealthy but now empty utopia.

Story and photos by Cam usher, Editor & Associate Adventuress


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