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GREEK NEWS

Sacred Island of Delos in Danger of Flooding, Greek Scientists Warn

delos flooding
Ancient Greek theater on Delos. Credit: Bernard Gagnon/ Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY-SA 3.0

Delos Island, situated in the middle of the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea, considered the most sacred of all islands in ancient Greek culture is in danger of flooding due to rising sea levels according to a study by Greek scientists.

Published in the Journal of Marine Science and Engineering, the study says that the seafront of the ancient city of Delos is subject to the effects of the sea rise, which have caused significant coastline retreat and exposure to the northerly winds and waves, whereas parts of the coastal lowland, where the remains of the ancient city lie, are inundated, forming extended wetlands.

The study evaluates the future impacts of sea rise caused by climate change on the seafront of ancient Delos. It warns that a sea rise based on digital surface models ranging from 87 cm to 148 cm is anticipated by 2150, requiring both resilience strategies and adaptation solutions as well as mitigation policies to cope with the effects of climate change.

Flooding threatens Delos

Co-author of the study Nikos Mourtzas of the Department of Classics and Archaeology at the University of Nottingham says the area in danger of being flooded by 2050 is about 4.6 acres rising to 10 acres by 2100 and 13,5 by 2150. The coastline is estimated to shift inland by 220 meters by 2150.

He called on authorities to develop resilience strategies and adaptation solutions as well as mitigation policies to cope with the effects of climate change.

“The most vulnerable part of Delos is the one that carries the biggest archaeological load, that is, the seafront of the ancient city of Delos,” Eleni Koaliti, the co-author of the study also from the Department of Classics and Archaeology at the University of Nottingham stressed.

She pointed out that the ever-accelerating increase in the rate of relative sea level rise, as one of the main effects of climate change, “is mainly attributable to global warming, as a result of the increase in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, caused by from super-intensive human activities.”

A UNESCO World Heritage site

Although it’s relatively unknown to many tourists, Delos – which is in its entirety a UNESCO World Heritage site – is one of the most important mythological, historical, and archaeological sites in all of Greece.

Delos had a position as a holy sanctuary for a millennium before Olympian Greek mythology made it the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis.

The island bears traces of the succeeding civilizations in the Aegean world, from the 3rd millennium BC to the palaeochristian era. The archaeological site is exceptionally extensive and rich and conveys the image of a great cosmopolitan Mediterranean port.

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