Thursday, 2 June 2011

Delos and Delightful

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We hopped a boat to Delos today, but I can't post any pictures because my Windows notepad won't accept the Lexar Media Jumpshot CF card reader as a USB device. I'd forgotten the intricacies of this compared to my more usual Mac, which just works.

Never mind; the above is a Myconian church.

Delos is the tiny island at the centre of the Cyclades and was once the epicentre of international trade between many empires, helped no doubt by its tax free status. But I'm talking about a couple of millenia ago, when the around 166BC the Romans created the tax avoidance mechanisms to encourage trade.

But to be fair, it had been doing quite well before that when it already operated as a confederacy, driven from the nearby island of Naxos. The Delian Confederation prospered in the circa 1000-500BC period and amassed plenty of cash, which was eventually removed 'for safe keeping' by the Athenians, who took it to Athens and after counting it decided they would spend it on building their Acropolis, Parthenon and so on.

Early politics, eh?

To add to it, the clever Pisistratus, who was the chief Athenian involved, decreed a form of purification for Delos which meant that everyone buried there was moved to the adjacent island and then in a second purification they added that no-one could be born or die on Delos.

Apart from any mystical qualities, this meant that no-one could claim to be from Delos and therefore have claim over any of the borrowed money.

But before any of this - and we are now going back to around 3000 BC, Delos had already built an advanced civilisation, with temples, shops, theatres and major sporting arenas. The remains of this is again visible on the island, which today has a population of about 10 archeologists, but in its heyday from 3000-88BC had a population of around 25,000-30,000 people from the very wealthy to regular citizens as well as a regular quota of slaves.

And even before this, the piece de resistance of the island would be its claim as the birthplace of not one but two of the Greek gods. Firstly Artemis (the huntress - Diana later in Roman) and  secondly Apollo, her twin and the god of light.

There's a proper tale to tell about how all of that came about and how the isleand eventually settled down in it's current location, but I think I'll save that fascinating tale for a day when I have some pictures.

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