The ancient marble mine of Apollon and the "kouros type" Dionysos

The marble mines of Naxos  (Melanes, Apollon) are the most ancient in Greece. We know for  a fact that they were operational during the 7th century, since the "House of Naxians" in Delos, the "Market (stoa) of Naxians" and the Colossal Apollon of Naxians in Delos, all from 7th century were made from Naxian marble. Thus, almost all the archaic statues of Delos are made of Naxian marble. Many scholars assume that perhaps the huge marble stones came from the mines of Apollonas, since it was easier to transfer the gigantic pieces to Delos from the ancient harbor with two ships (carrying the statue in a net that was tied between the two carrier ships). Marble was also used for the door of one of the oldest Naxian temples which is the temple of Aloades in Flerio (Melanes). It is a temple in which many scholars assume that started the constructions of the temple gate with three huge marble pieces (a technique repeated later in Delos, in the Dionysos temple (Yria Naxos) and later in all of the ancient Greece).

Archaeologists often connect the Melanes marble mine with the figure of the standing daughter (Kori) especially the one in the National Archaeological museum of Athens which is a dedication to Artemis by a wealthy woman called Nikandre (there were recently discovery two more Kori of Naxian marble from the same period -around 660 BC- one in Santorini [Kori of Selada], one in Antiparos [Kori of Antiparos].

Apollona’s marble mine is regularly associated with the kouros type statue. A Kouros in general is a figure of a young man with his arms close to his body and the left foot slightly ahead of the other [because the next step would be with the right foot which is a good sign for the ancient Greeks]. We know for certain that the unfinished Kouros in the archeological museum of Naxos that was found in Apollon, comes from the beginning of the 7th century! Thus there is a possibility that the marble mines of Apollon were operational throughout the 8th century BC!

Well, I have discussed  the ancient mines of Naxos but I have yet to mention the “Kouros type” Dionysos of Apollonas. Well, it’s a kouros and it’s a Dionysos too. This is not a contradiction because the statue bares the characteristics of the kouros type statue’s mentioned above but it is not a young man, it is the first kouros type statue which has a beard. So, we assume it’s a Dionysos and many archaeologists believe that this Dionysos was meant to stand at the main entrance of the temple of Dionysos in Yria. Apparently, they had done it before (moving such a gigantic statue as the colossic Apollon in Delos) and they were ready for an even greater project. We must remember that the sea level reached, at that time, the temple of Yria in Agios Arsenios. 
Another proof that it is a Dionysos is that the right hand of the statue of Dionysos, was holding a "kantharos", a cup for drinking wine which was identified as the cup of Dionysos. That was another innovation introduced in this statue in the "kouros type"style  statues.
I know you have another question for me. Ok, it’s a kouros type Dionysos but when did they make it? And why is it unfinished? You really asked me the right questions! Well, in the past archaeologists and stupidologists gave various explanations concerning why  the statue is unfinished and it's actual age.  Many assumed that the marble cracked and they stopped sculpting it, like 2,500 years and thousands of vandals who passed from the area couldn’t do the damage. Some others assumed it was from the 7th century, just because it was found near the unfinished kouros which is at the naxos archaeological museum.

We know today, by the technique used, that it is not from the 7th century BC thus it is not older than the colossal Apollon of the Naxians in Delos (600 BC). So we assume that it is from the 6th century BC and I would say that if you read the “Ekonomika” of Aristoteles you will find out that the tyrant Ligdamis took over the island with the help of his friend Pisistratos and he exiled all the fat-ones (the aristocrats who were rulling Naxos until 545 BC) and confiscated all the unfinished statues in the mines that these rich people had ordered. This sounds like a perfectly good explanation to me. It also explains why there are so many unfinished Kouros around Naxos (2 big ones in Melanes also!!). After the death of Pisistratos, Lygdamis invited the exiled fat-ones to Naxos and asked them to buy back the statues but they refused. Anyway, that was not the time for statue making, the oligarchs took over again, then the democrats and then the Persian-Milecian fleet came to Naxos, unsuccessfully at first but the second time the island was devastated. No time for sculpting statues, I guess. 
Nevertheless, some archaeologist say that this "kouros type Dionysos" maybe is even younger than we thought, maybe it was made at the end of the 6th century or even the beggining of the 5th century! They say that because besides the other characteristics different than "normal" kouros type statue, Dionysos of Apollonas appear to be half dressed. I wouldn't disagree with the possibility that the kouros type Dionysos was made at the end of the 6th century during the return of the Aristocracy from Miletos, as an attemt to renew the former glory of the worship of Dionysos, but I would completely disagree with the possibility that this statue was made in the early 5th century during the rule of Democrats and in between two great wars.

When did they start sculpting the Dionysos of Apollon? Difficult question, you got me there. I only know that an artist needed one year to make a statue of natural size , if he was working alone, but I am sure that many slaves worked on our Dionysos. I would say, they started sculpting around 560-555 BC but it is also possible that they started it after the return of the aristocrates, as a symbol of the re-establishment of their rule.
I know that you have another question for me and if you don’t, you should. How come they made a Dionysos in a place called Apollonas . Well, my friend, the inscription ΟΡΟΣ ΙΕΡΟΝ ΧΩΡΙΟΥ ΑΠΟΛΛΩΝΟΣ says that this is the mountain of the sacred  village of Apollonas but it is more recent than Dionyso’s statue. During the rule of Ligdamis, there was a shift of divine power from Dionysos (the traditional god of Naxos that the oligarchy ruled in his name), to Apollon, the god used byLigdamis as the mighty god and obviously he ruled in his name. He even tried to construct a temple of Apollon in Naxos Town which would be even more magnificent than the temple of Dionysos in Yria. Sometimes, religion and political power are so involved that you can’t really distinguish between them.
Besides, when it comes to money, who cares about gods…

Christos Sideris 

PS: Hey, I completely forgot to mention that the kouros type Dionysos at Apollonas is the biggest marble statue in the world !!! Enjoy it

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