RHENEIA



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Rheneia - general

General


To the west of Delos , at a distance of less than a kilometre stretches the lower half of the island of Rheneia. The Rhevmatiari Islets lie in the channel between the two islands, making the crossing between the main islands narrower still. The archaeological interest on Rheneia lies mostly in the northern part of the island which is joined to the lower portion by an isthmus less than 100m across. The ancient settlement was around the bay of Aghia Triada on the west coast. On the north side of the bay are the interesting remains of a Sanctuary of Hercules, dating from the late 2nd century bc, which were brought to light in 1900 together with a statue of the hero. An impressive and curious rectangular building in the sanctuary possesses some beautiful decorative elements: on its east side is a deep, semicircular tank with a water-spout in the form of a shell, and a delightful floor mosaic depicting swimming dolphins.
   Of greatest archaeological significance, however, is the extensive area of necropolis on the east coast, opposite Delos . This was in effect the cemetery of Delos in the centuries following the sacred prohibition of death and burial on the island after the purification of 426 bc. The purification involved the exhumation of all previous graves on Delos and their transference all together to a prepared purification pit on Rheneia. This is the rectangular enclosure located below the church of Aghia Kyriaki­ on the eastern shore. This pit, which was excavated in the last years of the 19th century, was predictably a gold-mine for archaeological studies because it contained an un precedented quantity and variety of pottery dating from Geometric times up until the early 5th century bc: it is this valuable assemblage which constitutes the collection of the Mykonos Archaeological Museum.
   The area further to the south along the coast continued to be used as the cemetery for Delos after 426 bc. A large number of tombs, altars, sarcophagi, and several hundred carved stelai and inscriptions have been unearthed in this area. In the midst is an underground two-level complex of loculi tombs, entered by means of a staircase and central corridor. The hills to the north were intensively culti vated in antiquity with farmsteads belonging to the sanctuary on Delos . On the northernmost tip of the island is the stepped base of an ancient monument.

Given the difficulty of organising transportation to Rheneia, a visit to the Museum in Mykonos, which contains all the objects of value which come from this large area, represents an easier and perhaps more revealing option for the visitor.


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