The Oracle at Delphi revisited

Scientific American: Questioning the Delphic Oracle

Prior to 1900, the behaviour of the Oracle was attributed to a vapour that produced divine posession. In about 1900, an Englishman visited excavations at the site, found no chasm or gases, and published an article debunking the claim. In the late 1990s, a couple of geologists tripped over evidence of tectonic fault lines, and started a new investigation, determining that all of the original documented Oracular behaviour could be explained by gases released by tectonic movement. Fascinating!

I particularly liked the ending:

bq. The primary lesson we took away from our Delphic oracle project is not the well-worn message that modern science can elucidate ancient curiosities. Perhaps more important is how much we have to gain if we approach problems with the same broad-minded and interdisciplinary attitude that the Greeks themselves displayed.

There were quite a few New Scientists running around in the 19th and 20th centuries dismissing established knowledge in the name of the great God Science. It’s nice to see that science changing from a hammer to a magnifying glass…

posted at 10:45 am on Thursday, August 07, 2003 in Science and Technology | Comments (2)


  1. Me says:

    The oracle is a really fascinating thing, and I dont think the whole of it will ever be totally found out.

  2. dont care says:

    I dont have any!!!!!

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