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The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation supported, for yet another year, the excavation and restoration works at the sanctuary of Apollo at Mantra Despotikou, conducted in June and July 2020 under the supervision of Yannos Kourayos, in collaboration with the archaeologists Ilia Daifa and Alexandra Alexandridou, with the participation of students from the University of Ioannina. The Despotiko restoration programme is currently the largest in the Cyclades and one of the most important restoration projects in Greece, while the excavations so far have brought to light one of the largest archaic sanctuaries of the Cyclades, second only to that of Delos, which is dedicated to Apollo (6th century BC).
The greatest part of the 2020 excavation period was spent on the research at the islet of Tsimintiri, which was in ancient times connected to Despotiko through an isthmus and formed a part of the wider worship sitesatellite of the sanctuary of Apollo. The results of the excavations are of particular importance, as the research revealed four buildings on the south and east part of the island and discovered many fragments of archaic pithos with engraved and pressed decorations, dating between the 7th century and the early 5th century BC. All the buildings discovered are of very large size and strong construction, and they seem to be structurally related to each other thus creating a dense building network on the south part of the islet. The research reveals that those were likely public buildings connected with the operation of the port.
The restoration and preservation works at the archaic temple and the refectory of Apollo’s sanctuary, conducted in 2020 under the supervision of the researcher and architect Goulielmos Orestidis, have made remarkable progress and are nearing completion. Following the installation and adaptation of five ancient triglyphs, as well as two ancient and two contemporary metopes on the entablature of the temple, the monument has now regained a significant part of its original height and size, and impressive as it is, it is even visible from the opposite coast of Antiparos.
“As an institution, sponsorship has been known, widely accepted and particularly welcome since the ancient times. It is a great fortune and honour for the excavation works at Despotiko to have noble and important supporters, such as the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, whose support has remained undiminished for many years now. This funding has allowed the excavation to continue with the unveiling of another four buildings at Tsimintiri and a large archaic tank at Despotiko. In addition, great progress was made in the 2020 restoration works, as the facade of the temple and the ritual refectory were completed. Visitors are now given the opportunity to tour an exemplary restored monument, located on an uninhabited island of unique natural beauty where nature and history have remained intact through the centuries.”
Archaeologist, Excavation Mission Director at Despotiko