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The marble of Paros

One of the most important factors of the flourish of Paros in antiquity was the exploitation of the famous local marble, the “Parian Stone” as the ancient Greek authors describe it.

According to archaeological evidence, the extraction of the marble started in the 7th century b.C., and continued constantly until 1881. This consistency is due to the fact that the Parian marble is of excellent quality with unique characteristics: it is white, transparent, with nice fine crystals. As the quarrymen worked with the help of oil lamps (“lychos” in Greek), the material was called “lychnites” or “lychnia”. Another suggestion for this name, as well as for the deriving “lychneus” and “lychnaios”, is that these names indicate the characteristic brightness of the material.
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The marble of Paros was the ideal material for ancient architecture and sculpture. Many of the masterpieces of antiquity, from the statuettes and vessels of the Cycladic culture to the statues of the Classic period and the following Hellenistic and Roman times are made of Parian marble. We should also not miss to mention that many famous sculptors were of Parian origin: Scopas, Agorakritos, Thrasymedes, Aristion and Arkesilaos are among the most well known. The extraction of this excellent marble, one of the main products of the island, was a source of glory, prestige and, above all, of money. Sculptures made of Parian marble were found at the Parthenon, at the Mausoleum of Allikarnassos and other important monuments. Some of the most beautiful and famous sculptures ever, still preserved today and embellishing the Museums not only of Greece but of the whole world are also made of this material: the Nike (Victory) of Paeonios, Hermes of Praxiteles, the Nike of Samothrace, the status of Aphrodite (Venus) of Melos, all these excellent statues are made of Parian marble.

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