Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


1 April 2011

Trade, politics and religion in the Early Iron Age Aegean: Explaining the sacred island of Delos

Jason W. Earle Journal of Prehistoric Religion XXII (2010): 39-56.


Delos was a major religious centre in antiquity, yet the origins of this small island’s earliest known cults – those of Apollo, Artemis and Hera – are poorly understood. The author argues that sanctuaries dedicated to these deities developed in the Early Iron Age, mainly in the eighth century BC. Intensified long distance contacts and exchanges in the Aegean, together with Delos’s location and the needs of mariners, led to the practice of certain cults on the island, followed by the establishment of formal sanctuaries and festivals. These sanctuaries and festivals, it is argued, provided a space for inter-elite competition, gift-giving and trade, and can be tied to the politics of emerging poleis.


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