Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lecture Video: John R. Hale - Mysteries of the Delphic Oracle

by Salman Hameed

A few weeks ago we had a fantastic lecture by John R. Hale on "Mysteries of the Delphic Oracle: Ancient Religion, Modern Science". This was part of the Hampshire College Lecture Series on Science & Religion. He is a fantastic speaker! This lecture is also a good example of how to structure a talk: a nice beginning, build up the story, and then bring everything together in the end.

Here is the video of the lecture: Mysteries of the Delphic Oracle: Ancient Religion, Modern Science (Q&A and the abstract for the talk below that):

The Delphic Oracle: Ancient Religion, Modern Science by John R. Hale from Hampshire TV on Vimeo.

Here is the Q&A:

Q&A with John R. Hale from Hampshire TV on Vimeo.

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.

Please check out videos of earlier lectures at our Hampshire College Lecture Series on Science & Religion website.


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