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Underwater Pompeii in the waters off Delos

24 November 2014 / 11:11:48  GRReporter
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The archaeologists were looking for a port, but found a residential quarter in Delos while exploring the sea near the ancient Stadion settlement in the northeast of the island.

The Department of Underwater Antiquities under the Ministry of Culture and the National Hellenic Research Foundation found that the ruins, which had been identified as the remains of ports, were actually housing from an ancient residential quarter that was subsequently flooded by the sea.

What did scientists discover? The boundaries of a residential area and the remains of buildings, which stood at the seafront. Facilities, which most likely had commercial or manufacturing functions, were also found and virtually restored by using a photographical method.

This conclusion was based on the remains of a flooring platform found by the site's eastern border, along with 16, semi-preserved, in situ embedded clay vessels (amphoriskoi), and a kiln. Similar objects have been found in Pompeii and Herculaneum in Italy.

Large-sized stone ledges were also found aligned on the floor. They probably shaped the water front of the Stadion area to the east. Walls of buildings and a fallen colonnade were also found, in depths varying from 20 cm up to 1 m.

It is not easy to prove whether the buildings along the seafront were used for residential purposes. The seawaters have destroyed some key elements.


Winds on the island were so strong that the shoreline buildings only had windows on the inside looking towards the courtyards. The myths portrayed Delos as a windswept unknown place, unattached to the ocean floor, roaming the waves until Leto finished there her search for a place where she could give birth to Apollo and Artemis. The island was in the middle of the sea route from Ionia (Asia Minor) and had several ports.

The archaeological survey has been conducted by underwater archaeologist Magdalene Athanasoula (scientific supervisor), diver Manolis Tsefronis and underwater technician Spyridon Moureas, all from the Hellenic Ephorate (Department) of Underwater Antiquities.

From the National Hellenic Research Foundation Dr Mantha Zarmakoupi (scientific responsible, architect and underwater archaeologist) and Foteini Vlachaki (architect and restorer) took part in the surveys.

The sacred island of Apollo and Artemis

The rocky, arid island of Delos, 5 km long and 1.3 km wide was sacred land in ancient times, as the place where Apollo and Artemis, two of the most important deities of the Greek pantheon, were born. The sanctuary of Apollo, founded in the Homeric age, reached its zenith during the Archaic (7th-6th century BC) and the Classical (5th-4th century BC) eras.

Since the late 5th century BC there had been populated areas around the sanctuary. The town sprang back to life over a few decades after 166 BC, when the Romans declared the island a free zone. The island soon became one of the largest trade centres in the world.

About 30,000 people are believed to have lived here at the beginning of the 1st century BC, and 750,000 tons of goods passed through its ports every year.

Tags: Delos excavations discoveries Pompeii
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