The Archaeological Museum of Delphi

The Museum of Delphi is one of the most important Archaeological Museums in Greece. It houses findings and artefacts that indicate Delphi's political and religious role. The museum was originally built in 1903 but the building was too small and a larger one was built in 1938. New rooms and sectors were added in 1974, while recently there was a full restoration of the interior of the Museum.

The Archaeological Museum in 13 rooms has some of the most important sculptures of the Antiquity, from the Archaic, Classic and Hellenistic Era, including the famous Omphalos (Navel of the World), the Sphinx of Naxos, the Statue of handsome Antinoos, the fragments and friezes of the Metopes of the Athenian Treasury, the head of Dionysus, two Kouros' statues named Kleovis and Viton (known also as the Dioskouroi or Twins of Argos) and above all, the renowned "Iniochos" of Delphi, the bronze "Charioteer of Delphi".

Inside the Delphi Museum

Just before the entrance of the museum you can admire an impressive mosaic, also admired from a particular viewing room just up the stairs of the museum.
The Museum at Delphi contains a fascinating collection of finds from the site. In the vestibule is a Roman omphalos stone, carved with a net-like pattern.

Iniochos is the highlight of the Delphi museum. Iniochos in Greek means the man who holds the reins and the metal statue of Iniochos depicts a Charioteer of the Delphic Area. The statue was found in Delphi, part of a bigger complex consisting of a chariot with four horses, of which only fragments were found. The statue is 180cm tall and consists of six different parts. It was dedicated to God Apollo by the Tyrant Polyzalos, after his victory at the Pythian Games in 478 BC.
The detailed craft of the statue impresses both archaeologists and visitors. The details on the face and the body give the impression that the statue is actually moving, in a chariot race. His eyes, made of onyx, captivate the visitors. Wherever you stand in the room you can see the Iniochos watching you.
The statue of Iniochos is so perfectly created that it depicts the composure and self command on the “charioteer”, allowing the visitor to imagine how the Chariot would look during the race.

On the walls next to the statue, there is a graphic showing how the complex was in full scale, giving the visitors the chance to marvel at how well it is preserved.

 

Pythia was the title of every lady priestess delivering the prophecies.

At the beginning, when there was only one priestess Pythia, the prophecies were given once per year, on the 7th day of the Vitsios month (end of February beginning of March). Later, the oracles were pronounced on the 7th day of the 9 months, except for the 3 winter months. During winter and because of the snow on Mt. Parnassus, god Apollo, priestess Pythia and the priests of the temple took their annual Holiday leave.

Before the delivery of the oracle, a special ritual took place. While the Pythia cleansed herself at the Castalia Spring, the priests sacrificed an animal to the God. Then, the Pythia sat on the Holy Tripod, in the middle of the temple, called the Adyton, burned leaves of laurel, chew laurel, drunk water from the Castalia spring, and inhaled the methane gas that was coming from a crack on the earth below the tripod. The methane gas caused hallucinations and the Pythia was ready to communicate with god. She was mumbling different sounds, while in another room, the priests of Apollo, wrote down the words of the oracle.
The prophecies were the words of the God, ambiguous and always with double meanings .

Recent evidence proves that natural gas was evaporating from chasms on the rocks where the temple was located, being the reason of the hallucinations. This resulted in loosening the lips of Pythia and her vague and hardly interpreted omens. Plutarch was the first who had noticed the gases but no one before had ever elaborated on the issue.

At the height of the Delphic Oracle there were three Pythias. Eventually the demand and income dropped and the Pythia became unemployed.
Even today, the name Pythia remains synonymous to ambiguity and riddles.

Since January 24, 2010

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