Thursday, March 24, 2011

"Mysteries of the Delphic Oracle" - Science & Religion Lecture on March 31st at Hampshire College

As part of our Science & Religion Lecture Series at Hampshire College, we have archaeologist John R. Hale as our speaker on March 31st (next Thursday). He will be talking about the Delphic Oracle, and how science has unearthed information about ancient religious practice (actually - the discovery that he is going to talk about is quite fascinating). Yes, this topic also falls under the broad category of science & religion. Often times, science & religion issues are only seen through the narrow lens of origin debates. But there are many other facets - and this is a fantastic example. By the way, Dr. John Hale also has couple of Teaching Company courses. Last year I listened to Exploring the Roots of Religion, and it was very good.

If you are in the area, please join us at the talk next week. Here is the full announcement and abstract for the talk:

Hampshire College Lecture Series on Science & Religion Presents

Mysteries of the Delphic Oracle
Ancient Religion, Modern Science
Dr. John R. Hale

Thursday, March 31, 2011
5:30p.m., Franklin Patterson Hall, Main Lecture Hall
Hampshire College

The Delphic Oracle was the most influential religious site in the ancient Greek world.  Speaking from a tripod in a crypt under the temple of Apollo at Delphi, the priestess called the Pythia acted as a medium for the god, and spoke the divine prophecies while in a state of trance or possession.  The testimony of eye-witnesses linked the oracle's prophetic power to geological features in the rock under the temple: a mysterious chasm or cleft, a natural vapor or gaseous emission, and a sacred spring.  Although long doubted by modern scholars, these ancient traditions have recently been put to the test by an interdisciplinary team of researchers -- a geologist, an archaeologist, a chemist, and a toxocologist -- with surprising results.

Dr. John R. Hale received his Ph.D. in archaeology from the University of Cambridge in 1979. He has conducted fieldwork in England, Scandinavia, Portugal, Greece and the Ohio River Valley, and is currently director of liberal studies at the University of Louisville, where he is studying such diverse subjects as ancient ships and naval warfare, and the geological origins of the Delphic Oracle. Professor Hale's work has been published in Scientific American, Antiquity, The Classical Bulletin, and the Journal of Roman Archaeology.

For more information on the Lecture Series, please visit


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