Dig sheds light on island sanctuary

Dig sheds light on island sanctuary

Ongoing excavation work at an archaeological site on Despotiko, a small uninhabited islet off the Aegean island of Antiparos, has yielded significant finds that shed new light on the size and organization of an Archaic sanctuary situated there, the Culture Ministry said on Wednesday.

Archaeologists first started excavating the site in 1997 under the supervision of Yiannos Kouragios, gradually revealing the outlines of a large religious sanctuary dating to around the 6th century BC. But more recent work, and particularly intensive excavation that was carried out between the end of May and the beginning of July this year, has provided more detailed insights into the organization of the sanctuary.

Traces of religious worship at the sanctuary, which was devoted primarily to the god Apollo, date as far back as the 8th and 9th century BC, according to the ministry.

A total of 13 buildings have been unearthed over the years. But the latest round of excavation revealed “the complex and ornate facade” of a building measuring 35 meters by 15 meters, the ministry said.

The discoveries of this and other structures suggest that the site of the sanctuary was extended and rebuilt several times during the Classical and Hellenistic periods.

Among the new discoveries by archaeologists is a large building, comprising four rooms, on the west section of the site. A large stone altar was found in one of the rooms as well as pottery fragments bearing inscriptions with the name of the Apollo.

Another key discovery is a long wall running from what would have been the islet’s ancient port to the site of the sanctuary. Experts believe the wall would have served as a fortification.

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