The hellenistic Constructions north of the sacred Lake
The re-erected columns visible to the northwest of the Lion Terrace belong to the large edifice of the Association of the Poseidoniasts of Berytos (modern Beirut), a guild of Syrian ship-owners and merchants who worshipped Baal, a god they identified with Poseidon. The vestibule leads into a court bounded on the west by a portico onto which opened four sacred rooms. One of these, later than the others, was dedicated to the goddess Roma—a popular cult, in fashion in the late 2nd century bc—and contains her statue. On the east side a colonnade leads to a peristyle court, with a cistern. Note the clear, dedicatory inscription of the Poseidoniasts ‘to the gods of their fathers’ along the west-side entablature. Further to the west is another open court with a mosaic pavement, which was probably used as a meeting-place. To the south were reception rooms and, in the basement below them, a series of shops. A number of statues were found in this building including the memorable group of Aphrodite and Pan (now in the National Museum in Athens), in which the goddess threatens the menacing Pan with her sandal: the work is probably an original of the 3rd century bc, much influenced by Praxitelean forms.
Beyond the Building of the Poseidoniasts a road runs north/south along the side of four houses, some of which bear apotropaic symbols carved beside their doorways— a phallus, a man holding an animal, a cutlass, etc. These and other symbols, such as the club of Hercules or the conical caps worn by the Dioscorides, can be found else where in the area. The clearest examples are on the two marble door-posts of the house set slightly back to the west from the middle of the street. Their symbolic purpose was to protect the dwellings from evil spirits. Note also the floors in attractive chequer-board mosaic in the houses at the south end.
To the north, along a straight east/west street, two entire blocks of houses have been excavated: their urban plan (later and more organised than their counterparts to the south in the Theatre Quarter), their functional furnishings (latrines and ample cisterns), their cool two-storey marble peristyles (‘House of the Comedians’) and their decoration with reliefs and mosaics, give a sense of the comfortable life of Hellenistic Delos . The easternmost building, known as the ‘House of the Diadumenos’, from the discovery here of a replica of the celebrated statue by Polyclitus, had an elaborate water-supply system. Many of the houses similarly take their names from the exemplary finds made in them which are now exhibited in the museum (‘House of the Jewels’, ‘House of the Seals’, etc.) The * ‘House of the Lake’, which occupies a whole block on its own, has an especially well preserved peristyle of monolithic columns with a mosaic impluvium floor. Its northeast corner (opposite the entrance to the ‘Granite Palaestra’) bears a large fish/phallus image for good for tune, carved in relief on one of the granite corner-blocks.
One of Delos ’s most celebrated finds—a magnificent male portrait in bronze, executed with a thoughtful and sensitive naturalism, and still preserving its original eyes (now in the Archaeological Museum in Athens)—comes from the so-called ‘Granite Palaestra’ (mid-2nd century bc). This massive structure lies due north of the Sacred Lake (directly beyond its older and more ruined sister edifice, known as the ‘Lake Palaestra’) and takes its name from the granite blocks of which it is partly constructed: these survive well in the fine extent of the south wall. In the middle is a large cistern in four compartments, with a roof in poros stone, which was surrounded by a Doric peristyle. Extending both due south and northwest from the Granite Palaestra are well-conserved stretches of the City Wall.
The enceinte, often called the ‘Wall of Triarius’, was built by the Roman legate, Triarius, in 69–66 bc to protect Delos from the attacks of the pirate, Athenodoros. It was partly built over houses and shops which were demolished and filled with rubble to form a foundation. The southern stretch of the wall was removed in 1925–26. It skirted the east side of the Sacred Lake and of the Agora of the Italians. On a bastion of the wall, directly east of the Italian Agora, was found a small Prostyle Temple of the 2nd century bc with four columns, open to the east, and with an altar in front dedicated to a female goddess—possibly Aphrodite.
Delos Island is part of the Cyclades Island Group, Greece.