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How Two Statues of Twin Gods Artemis and Apollo Found a Home on Crete

Apollo and Artemis
Spectacular statues of Apollo and Artemis discovered in rare state of preservation on Crete. Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture

The Chania Ephorate of Antiquities presented a group of small statues portraying the twin gods Artemis and Apollo to the public at the Archaeological Museum of Crete on July 24, 2019.

The priceless statuettes had been found in the systematic excavation that took place at a archeological site at the ancient city of Aptera, under the direction of archaeologist Vanna Niniou-Kindeli. The dig was funded by the Region of Crete.

The presentation was considered extremely culturally significant as the statues are beautifully rendered and well preserved for their age — dating all the way back to the beginning of the second century. It is believed that they were imported from artistic centers outside Crete.

The Ephorate’s announcement stated that: “Artemis, the protector goddess of Aptera, is made of copper, while her twin brother Apollo, is made of marble. The goddess stands on an elaborate box-shaped copper base and is depicted in intense stride, wearing a short, slender chiton, and she is ready to shoot. Although Apollo is depicted in a more modest way, his attitude conveys internal tension.”

The spectacular finds were presented as new edition’s to the Chania Archaeological Museum’s permanent collection.

The Twins of Leto — The Greek gods Artemis and Apollo

leto
Leto and the infants Apollo and Artemis. Credit: Public Domain

The Titan goddess Leto had been one of Zeus’ lovers even before he married Hera. However, when Leto became pregnant with Zeus’ twins Artemis and Apollo, Hera and Zeus were already married. This understandably made Hera extremely jealous.

In revenge, Hera made it almost impossible for Leto to find a place where she could give birth. Leto wandered the world, but nobody wanted to upset Hera by offering her shelter. Leto finally found respite on a small floating island.

Her birth pains lasted a long time, and after nine full days she gave birth first to Artemis, and then to Apollo. From that time on, the island was known by the name of Delos, and it became attached permanently to the seabed underneath it.

 

Delos Island is an actual UNESCO World Heritage site you can visit in Greece, just off the larger island of Mykonos. The island is rich with its own archeological wonders famous for transporting visitors back to the world of antiquity.

There are extensive excavations on the island, revealing ruins that portray Delos as a holy sanctuary dating back to a period even before Greek mythology named it as the birthplace of the Greek gods Apollo and his twin sister Artemis.

Amazingly, some ruins of ancient stone huts on Delos date back to the 3rd millennium BC.

Rare photographs of the excavations at the Greek Island of Delos from the nineteenth Century have come to light in a new book written by a team of French archaeologists.

Both Artemis and Apollo became Olympian gods. Artemis was the goddess of hunting and Apollo was the god of music and poetry.

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