On the island of Despotiko the process of restoring and promoting the archaic sanctuary of Apollo differs little from the way it was done originally, and this adds extra value to such an important venture.
The second largest shrine to Apollo after that of Delos, this archaic sanctuary is on the uninhabited island of Despotiko, near Antiparos, without modern conveniences and facilities. Those involved in the project—craftsmen, engineers, archaeologists, students—are keenly aware of history flowing on in an unspoilt setting, collectively creating a harmonious whole untouched over the centuries.
The restoration of the archaic temple and the refectory are of prime importance to the Cyclades Ephorate of Antiquities and the ehad of the project, the archaeologist Yannos Kouragios, as it will turn the island of Despotiko into an organised archaeological park of great cultural value. Till then, every member in the Despotiko task force will be working under challenging conditions, mainly sue to the location, on an uninhabited island with no power, without the option to carry heavy tools and materials with anything other than one’s hands. Today’s marble craftsmen use the same methods as their ancient forebears, with the same diligence and the same exemplary precision. Except for the major contribution of technology with the CNC machines which generate life-size 3D models of the ancient architectural fragments, it is the craftsmen’s hands that build, restore and produce the final outcome according to the architect’s instructions; at the same time, the entire restoration team along with dozens of volunteer archaeology students from all over the world contribute significantly under the guidance of Yannos Kouragios and his associates. Volunteerism and private initiative have been key to the Despotiko project which, with no funding from any EU programme, relies on privat sponsorship since 2014.
Next May or June the Despotiko team has been schedule to spend a month on restoring the pillars of the temple and the refectory, mounting one of temple’s epistyles, continuing the wall shared by the two buildings and reconstructing the front walls of the temple and the refectory. The project’s scheduling may have to be modified depending on weather conditions or the difficulties in transporting equipment, although years of experience have shown that all problems can be resolved as long as the project goes on; and it will go on until it is completed thanks to the inexhaustible passion of those who work on it and the enthusiasm of those who provide hands-on support.