Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 1614 JULY 06, 2010 MINI-TOUR OF GREECE: DELFI by Russ Driving three hours west into mountain terrain, we arrived at Delfi – the Mecca of Ancient Greece. Here, crouched under limestone cliffs and built over springs and fissures that release psychotropic gases, the Greeks found a land that hissed and quaked. This was significant because going back even before mythology, the Greeks worshipped Mother Earth – source of fertility and giver of life – and earth-traveling and hole-entering snakes were the closest and most favored of all her creatures. Delfi became a religious center and prophecies were spoken there by sybils some 3,000 years ago. Around 800 BC, the Greek mythical gods ascended and priests built a major Temple to Apollo, housing the Oracle of Delfi in an underground chamber. When Christianity started to replace mythology, traffic to the Oracle ceased. Periodic earthquakes eventually rolled giant boulders down from the cliffs smashing the temples, fields grew up covering the rubble, and Delfi receded into a simple goat and olive farming village in the Middle Ages and succeeding centuries. Today the ruins are partially restored and Delfi Village enjoys healthy tourism from folks like us in the summer and Greek skiers in winter. The Oracle played a starring role in Greek history during the times of Pericles, Sophocles, Plato, Aristotle, Leonidas, Aristophones, Euclid, Diogenes, Hippocrates. Citizens and city-state kings would all come to Delfi seeking advice. Many Greeks wanted to journey there at least once to hear their fortunes, camping Woodstock-like for weeks in the olive fields until the Spring Solstice and then joining the procession up the slopes bearing a gift for Apollo. The proces- sional path up to the temple, weaving up a steep hillside beneath rugged limestone cliffs, was lined with statues, pillars, and gleaming treasure cups displayed proudly by the various warring nations of Greece in a trophy room arms race. One visitor guessed there were 10,000 statues! Richer countries had entire treasuries of donations to Delfi displayed proudly on the path – we took a photo in front of the Athens treasury. The Oracle was a young girl who suffered ceremo- nial cleansing, mind-altering drugs, and religious mania while sitting in a pitch black basement under the temple waiting for visitors. She would place her hands on a large rock – the Navel of the World which is in the museum see the picture – and speak prophecy interpreted by the priests. Beyond religious merit, the priests there may have played a key intelligence gathering and advisory role for the Greek nation, listening to news and tales from around the world, dispensing advice and creating religious rules. At a time when neighboring city-states fought bitter wars, the Delfi priests were the ones who could act on behalf of the Greek nation. Visiting the ruins we learned of the tribulations in building stone structures in an earthquake zone. One of the key solutions is to carve T-shaped grooves in neighboring stones and place iron hooks into the grooves to hold stones together. These hooks were encased in lead to prevent rust and accommodate the thermal expansion of metal. Athens’ wealth and ability to threaten rivals was greatly owing to their monopoly on lead, required for this building method. Many of the stone walls were later torn down and the rocks chiseled apart by lead scavengers. We also observed how capers are a flowering plant that grows openly in Greece. The most fascinating aspect of the nearby museum is how they show the entire evolution of ancient Greek sculpture under one roof. In an early ~500BC example, Apollo and Artemus are