Today, the sacred island of Delos in the Cyclades is almost deserted. But in the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC it was the linchpin of a multitude of trading routes, and became one of ancient Greece’s busiest and most prosperous ports. The first glimpse the traveller caught of the tiny island of Delos during its heyday would have been of a rugged mass of granite rising from the violet of the Aegan Sea. A long harbour stretched at the north end of the island: a vast complex of docks and piers hugging the shoreline, with warehouses lining the quays. Behind the harbour the city spread in wild confusion towards the slopes of Mount Cynthus.