At its peak, more than 20,000 people inhabited Delos and, in addition to the Greeks, came from cultures as diverse as Egyptians, Syrians, and Jews. Delos rose to prominence as the financial hub of the Mediterranean and erected monuments that reflected its power and glory. It is possible today to stroll through narrow streets and alleys, a soaring theater, and broad avenues lines with multi-ton stones. A mammoth stone pedestal, likely weighing in excess of thirty tons, once supported a huge statute of Apollo. How those who constructed Delos were able to transport and position such gigantic stones remains a mystery on a par with Stonehenge (see post of 9/25/12).
Shop to sell fish
Beautiful mosaic, the original is in the museum
Due to inter-Greek warfare and pirate attacks, Delos was eventually abandoned. Today, the once vibrant island is completely uninhabited. Indeed, no trace of its human occupants remains. Around 426 B.C. the Athenians cleansed Delos by declaring that no one would ever live there. Further, all graves were exhumed and the remains unceremoniously carted away. As one marvels at the poignant Terrace of the Lions, a series of sculpted lions gifted to Delos in the seventh century B.C., it is not difficult to imagine the ghosts of the disinterred flitting about between tumbled columns and gazing forever upon the endless, deep blue, sea.
Terrace of the Lions
Mosaic from the Palace
The island across the bay where the deceased were moved
Back to the ship
Or, perhaps, the imagining of ghosts is due to the excessive vodka consumed the prior evening. In either event, Delos is an unforgettable experience, ghosts or not.