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Kouros statue found near Paros

- by John Swift

Kouros statue found near Paros.

Excavations on an islet near the popular holiday island of Paros have unearthed more remains of a 'kouros' statue – the third to be found at the site. The latest find, of a headless upper torso, has been discovered at a dig on the the uninhabited islet of Despotiko, south-west of the small island of Antiparos and just off the coast of Paros in the Cyclades. It is the third find of a rare 'kouros' statue to be found at the site in recent years.

The statues, once common in the Greek islands, are from the Archaic Period and depict a standing male youth.

The latest statue was found upside down and supported by marble stones. It has the left arm bent over the chest, typical of the 6th century BC style used at 'kouros' sculpture workshops on the nearby island of Paros.

The lower torso of the 'kouros' was unearthed in excavations in 2005, while the head was found last year. The fragments are all said to be in excellent condition.

Excavation director , Giannos Kouragios, stressed on the importance of this discovery, as it is the third 'kouros' to be found on the same site. His team has been excavating the large temple of the Archaic Period dedicated to Apollo since 2001.

Ceramic inscriptions found at the site confirm the cult of Apollo and Artemis on the islet. It is thought that the site attracted many pilgrims bearing offerings. Artifacts of all kinds have been discovered including bronze and ivory buckles, gold, glass and stone beads as well as statuettes. knives, swords, agricultural tools and vases.

It is believed that Despotoko, along with neighbouring Prespesinthos played an important religious role in the Aegean in antiquity when it was linked to the even smaller islet of Tsimintiri where excavations have unearthed more temple buildings.

It is thought that many 'kouros' statues were destroyed in the war between Athens and Paros, when militiamen were sent to Paros to punish the islanders for siding with the Persians during the Persian Wars.