Greece/Turkey Study Tour 2006

Trip Information for the Greece Turkey Trip Summer 2006 sponsored by Lee University. See Frequently Asked Questions Below for dates, places, prices, etc

Thursday, June 22, 2006

A Day at Delphi

Hello From Athens,

Everyone is fine and doing well.

Today we visited the Ancient Site of Delphi. It is a beautiful site and the favorite of many people. I think that it is my favorite site in Greece. You are high up in the mountains but you have a commanding view of the sea below. Ancient Greeks climbed the hills to worship Apollo and Athena and seek guidance from the oracle at the Temple of Apollo. They also gathered for the Pythian Games, which is one of the four Pan-Hellenic games. There were also poetry and music contests and meetings where leaders of Ancient Greek City-States could talk politics over and come to decisions.

We made our way to the Roman Forum and then up the Sacred Way. Along the Sacred way there were once statues to honor donors, athletes, and musicians. These statues lined the Sacred Way so everyone would remember what they had achieved. Also along the Sacred Way were several treasuries of cities housing their gifts to the god Apollo. For example at the prows of the warships were lined up to commemorate the Athenian victory over the Persians. The retaining walls are built of polygonal construction to help them survive earthquake attacks.

Many of these stones are covered with inscriptions, many of these inscriptions record masters freeing their slaves. At the heart of the site is the Temple of Apollo which has a large altar in front. Adjacent to the Temple stood a bronze tripod of Platea which is made of intertwined bronze snakes. This tripod was carried off by Constantine the Great and was put in the center of the hippodrome. A part of the tripod is located at the hippodrome in Istanbul what is left of it we saw earlier on the trip

The Temple of Apollo is of Doric style and it is built over 2 fault lines which has recently been studied by geologist who have determined that a form of methane gas would have been released from these fissures which would have had a hallucinogenic effect on the priestess who would sit on a tripod over the opening and speak in a “language” only the priest could understand. People would wait in line on the seventh day of the month and would be chosen by lot to choose the order. They would tell the priest the question and he would rely it to the priestess and later return with her answer. An answer he would interpret for the one waiting. Sometimes the answers were straight forward and often the person would get the answer they desired. But sometimes the answers were veiled and opened to interpretation. Under the temple there are still passages which people climb in. The oracle would go into the basement of the temple to answer the questions.

Up above the Temple is a nice theater which was used for dramas and plays. Up even further is a stadium with stone seats and nice starting gates.

Before visiting the site we went to the museum which has several amazing objects all found during the excavations at Delphi. Delphi was home to the Pythian Games which was one of the Panhellenic Games. These games took place every four years in honor of Apollo, the god of wisdom. The temple to Apollo was home to oracle of Delphi. A priestess of the temple functioned as the oracle. People would come and ask questions of the oracle on special days. She would sit in the temple on a tripod over a crack where vapors would rise up and have a hallucinogenic effect on her and she would speak in a "priestly language" and predict the future often in vague ways.

Recently geologists and archaeologists have worked together and discovered that a fault line runs under the temple and that have hallucinogenic properties.As one of the panhellenic games as well as a home to an oracle Delphi was the most important religious site on the mainland. Several treasuries and monuments were built as each city tried to out do the other. Many of these offerings to Apollo were lost on the site and have now been recovered by archaeologists.In the museum some of the most important objects include a large Sphinx.

As I look at it I was reminded of Oedipus and the riddle of the sphinx. The Siphinian Treasury which dates to 525BC is one of the oldest Ionic marble buildings on the mainland. The pediments of the building are well-preserved. One side with the Judgment of Paris and the other with the combat of combat before Troy with the assembly of the gods. This has the name of the artist on one of the shields.The Treasure Room has amazing objects such as parts of the chryselephantine (made from ivory and gold) statues of Apollo and Artemis. Also the remains of a large statue of a bull made of silver.One of the most famous items in the museum is the Charioteer which is an original bronze which sections of the horse and chariot. This was made to honor the victor of chariot 478 or 474 in Pythian games.Also there is a famous marble statue of Antinoos. He was a famous companion of Emperor Hadrian who died by drowning in the Nile during a trip their with the emperor.Also the museum has an inscription which has musical notation on it. This is one the earliest indications of musical notation in Ancient Greece it dates to the 3rd century BC.

My favorite item in the museum was the Gallio inscription. This is an inscription that I have been talking about for many years. It makes reference to Gallio who is mentioned in Acts 18. Gallio is proconsul of Acacia. The emperor Nero wrote a letter honoring him which is preserved in this inscription. Paul was taken before Gallio by the Jews of Corinth. Here Gallio determined not to get involved in what he called Jewish disputes. Since a proconsulship only lasted one year and since Paul was only in Corinth for eighteen months this inscription establishes a benchmark in the chronology in Paul’s life and missionary journeys. So this is an important piece of evidence for New Testament studies.

Tomorrow we fly out of Athens to New York and then on to Atlanta.

I have to fly out earlier than the group go through Milan and then to DC and then meet them again in Atlanta.

John Wineland
Athens, Greece


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