Looking east

The furthest edge of the Sacred Precinct to the east is marked by a well-preserved peribolos wall constructed out of alternating rows of granite and gneiss blocks in the mid-3rd century bc. Beyond the wall at the extreme right-hand end (south) is the house of a merchant, Kerdon, with two peristyle courts; while beyond the opposite left-hand end of the Peri­volos (across from the Portico of Antigonos), the presence of Dionysos—whose spirit is the very opposite of Apollo’s loftiness—is marked by a shrine in the form of a rectangular exedra (just in front of the museum building as viewed from here), which is decorated with outsized phallic symbols. This small ‘Temple’ of Dionysos (only 7.5 x 3.2m) was built around 300 bc by a patron of theatre, named Karystios. The disposition of the various marble elements, though all belonging to the building, is not original: the southern pedestal bears several well-preserved and finely carved reliefs—a rooster with a neck and head in the form of an elongated phallus(probably one of the images used in Dionysiac processions), and on the side flanks, Dionysos with Maenads, and Silenus with a figure of Pan. When Apollo left the Oracle at Delphi each year at the winter solstice to winter in the land of the Hyperboreans, Dionysos temporarily took his place there. It seems that the two divinities—almost mutually complementary like Yin and Yang—worked in an unusual harmony and were never, as here, far from one another.
   Some 25m closer to you, in front of the peribolos (and properly visible only by moving in that direction), is the long base of the so-called ‘Monument of the Bulls’—a misnomer which is derived from its decoration with bulls’ heads.

   It is an oblong building (69.4m long x 10.3m wide) of Hellenistic date and unusual design. The foundations, which alone survive, are in gneiss and granite. A pronaos at the south end led into a long gallery with a hollow floor placed over a partitioned framework and surrounded by a pave ment c. 50cm above it. The building would have housed and displayed a military trireme dedicated to Apollo after a naval victory, probably by Demetrios Poliorcetes or his son, Antigonos Gonatas. The building can therefore be identified as the Neorion mentioned in inscriptions. A chamber at the north end has a trapezoidal base, on which a sacred flame dedicated to Pythian Apollo may have burned. The building is comparable in date and form with the similar Neorion on Samothrace.

To the south (right) in front of the ‘Monument of the Bulls’ are the low remains of two public buildings—an administrative Prytaneion of the mid 4th century bc, comprising a porticoed entrance-vestibule with marble benches against the walls, a small paved courtyard, a sacred area with an altar to Hestia in the northwest corner, and a banquet-room and storage areas for archives in the northeast corner. Grouped in front of the building to the west are several altars of different periods, dedicated principally to the protecting divinities of the city—Athena Polias and Zeus Polieus. To the north of the Prytaneion is a much earlier structure (6th century bc) sometimes identified as the Bouleuterion, or Council Chamber.

Delos Island is part of the Cyclades Island Group, Greece.

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