Delos

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Delos

(dē`lôs), island, c.1 sq mi (2.6 sq km), SE Greece, in the Aegean Sea, smallest of the CycladesCyclades
, Gr. Kikládhes [Gr.,=circular], island group (1991 pop. 94,005), c.1,000 sq mi (2,590 sq km), SE Greece, a part of the Greek archipelago, in the Aegean Sea stretching SE from Attica.
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. In Greek mythology, Leto gave birth to Apollo and Artemis on Delos; and the island was particularly sacred to Apollo. Delos was of great commercial and political importance in antiquity. The temple of Apollo there was the seat of the treasury of the Delian LeagueDelian League
, confederation of Greek city-states under the leadership of Athens. The name is used to designate two distinct periods of alliance, the first 478–404 B.C., the second 378–338 B.C.
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 until it was removed (454 B.C.) to Athens. In the 2d cent. B.C. Delos had a flourishing slave market which continued to thrive even after a slave rebellion c.130 B.C. In 88 B.C. the island was sacked by Mithradates VI of Pontus; it never recovered and Delos was abandoned toward the end of the 1st cent. B.C. It is virtually uninhabited, but attracts many tourists. Excavations conducted since the 1870s by the French School (Athens) have revealed remains of temples, commercial buildings, theaters, private houses, and numerous inscriptions.

Delos

 

an island in the Aegean Sea. Its oldest settlements date from the third millennium B.C.

Delos was an important religious center of ancient Greece. The famous temple of Apollo, which was the center of the Delos amphictyony, was on the slope of Mount Cynthus. According to tradition, Delos was the birthplace of the god Apollo and the goddess Artemis. From 478-477 to 454-453 B.C., the island was the center of the Delian League. The league’s treasury was kept on Delos, and the meetings of the league’s members were held there.

From the fourth to the beginning of the first century B.C., the island played an important role in international trade. Delos was a center for the slave trade: in the course of a single day, up to 10,000 slaves were bought and sold there. In the second century B.C., Roman merchants used Delos as the major base for their commercial and financial operations in the East. At the end of the second century B.C., slave uprisings took place on Delos. With the establishment of new trade routes in the first century B.C., Delos lost its significance. In 188 B.C., the city on the island was razed by Mithridates VI, the king of Pontus, in retribution for Delos’ having supported Rome in his war against the Romans. In 69 B.C., the city was destroyed once and for all by pirates. For many centuries afterward, stone was obtained from the site of Delos.

Excavations conducted regularly on Delos since 1877 have uncovered a great quantity of inscriptions and remains of architecture and art. The sanctuary of Apollo, which has been preserved from ancient Delos, includes the temple of Apollo (the second quarter of the fifth to the fourth century B.C.); the porticoes of the Naxians (seventh century), of the Bulls (about 315), of the Horns (the middle of the third century), and of Philip V of Macedonia (about 200); and the sacred precinct of Artemis. Other important ruins on Delos are the private dwelling House on the Hill, the agora of the followers of Poseidon (125-100), the Lion Terrace (seventh century), the so-called basilica (about 210), the agora of the Italic gods (the end of the second century), the agora of the Roman merchants, private houses of the third to the beginning of the first century (with mosaics and paintings), the theater (third century), and remains of commercial buildings and piers (second century). The sanctuary of the Syrian and Egyptian gods (second century), the temple of Hera (the end of the sixth to the beginning of the fifth century), and the Hellenistic grotto of Apollo (date unknown) were discovered on the side of Mount Cynthus; on the summit the remains of the temple of Zeus Cynthios and Athena Cynthia (third century) were found.

REFERENCES

Lentsman, Ia. A. “Rynok rabov na Delose.” Vestnik drevnei istorii, 1950, no. 1.
Inscriptions de Délos, vols. 1-3. Paris, 1937-50.
Champdor, A. Délos, l’île d’Apollon. Paris [1960].
Bruneau, P., and J. Ducat. Guide de Délos. Paris, 1965.

Delos

a Greek island in the SW Aegean Sea, in the Cyclades: a commercial centre in ancient times; the legendary birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. Area: about 5 sq. km (2 sq. miles)