Wednesday, June 10, 2015

This year, together with the thousands of tourists flocking to the island of Paros, a group of archaeologists will join in for the 4th International Archaeological Conference on the ancient colonies of Paros (June 11-14).

Historically, even before the dawn of the Classical era, the people of Paros - a relatively small island of the Cyclades group - embarked on establishing its authority in the Aegean. To do so, they capitalised on its mighty resource and commodity: the pure-white and entirely flawless Parian marble, excavated from a depth of 120 metres.

It was so special and precious, that some of the ancient world’s masterpieces in architecture and sculpture found in Delfi, the Acropolis and Olympia, were carved from this semi-transparent Parian marble.

By the end of the 7th century BC, Paros had established colonies on the shores of the Adriatic Sea (modern Croatia), Thassos (Northern Greece) and Propontis (modern Turkey). 

The golden age for the island lasted throughout the Classical period, during which time the resources and minerals from the colonies (marble, gold, silver, copper etc.) turned Paros into a wealthy city and a generous contributor to the common fund of the Delian League (aka Athenian Empire), which enabled the island’s leadership to exercise political influence.

At the conference, archaeologists will look into at life in the colonies, as each one of them became a prosperous landmark of their own broader area: Parion in modern Turkey’s Çanakkale developed into a tourist attraction for the Romans (2nd century BC);

Pharos, a colony in modern Croatia’s Hvar (384 BC),  is now a Unesco monument; and Thassos in Northern Greece has a mining history spanning millennia to the present.