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Archaeologist on Delphic Oracle project will deliver Joukowsky Lecture

Of all the mysteries in the Classical world, perhaps none inspires as much wonder and mystery as Apollo’s sacred oracle at Delphi — the Delphic Oracle.

Sunday, Oct. 7, at 2 p.m., in the Witherspoon Concert Hall at Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge St., Omaha, John Hale, PhD, archaeologist and part of an interdisciplinary team that has been studying sites around Delphi for more than two decades, will deliver “Mysteries of the Delphic Oracle,” the 2018 Lincoln-Omaha Society of the Archaeological Institute of America’s Joukowsky Lecture.

Hale, a lecturer and director of the Liberal Studies program at the University of Louisville, was tapped in 1995 to be part of a team looking into the history and legends surrounding the Delphic Oracle. The site of the oracle in central Greece is lodged among several unusual geologic phenomena, including a fissure running deep in the rock from which emanates a sweet-smelling vapor, and from which issues a freshwater spring.

The oracle, a priestess known as the Pythia, would inhale the vapor and fall into a trance, whereby she would deliver prophecy on Apollo’s behalf. Some of her more notable visitors from literature and history have included Oedipus, Agamemnon and Alexander the Great. During the 20th century, some scholars grew skeptical about the oracle, wondering if such a place joining fissure, vapor and stream, really existed.

Hale’s team vindicated ancient sources on the oracle and has continued to study the environs in Delphi and other oracle sites in the Aegean and Asia Minor.

This lecture is free and open to the public, sponsored by the AIA, the Creighton College of Arts and Science, the Department of Fine and Performing Arts, the McCormick Fund at Creighton and the Joslyn Art Museum.


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