HUMOR: Delphi Oracle was high on vapors

From: Sabine Atkins (
Date: Tue Jul 17 2001 - 11:09:54 MDT

I got a kick out of this:

"Delphi Oracle was high on vapors

US geologists have found the long-lost crack in the Earth's crust below
Delphi Oracle. They thus confirm reports by classical writers claiming
the oracle's visions were induced by vapors seeping from the Earth's

For over 2,000 years, Greeks and Romans made pilgrimages to Delphi to
seek advice from the oracle. Classical writers report that the
prophecies came from a woman in a trance, concealed in a narrow chamber.
The Roman writer Plutarch already suspected that sweetish-smelling
vapors from the Earth were responsible for the trance. However, to date
geologists had searched in vain for a fissure from which such vapors
might have escaped.

Now, the researchers finally found what they had been looking for - they
found that two faults cross directly under the oracle. Seismic activity
have heated the underground in the vicinity of these cracks and made
leak gases. A nearby spring even shows which gases might have been
involved: beyond methane, the water also contains ethylene, a gas known
for its hallucinogenic effects.

Source: Nature Science Update, Jul 17, 01
Research: Jelle Z. de Boer, Department of Earth and Environmental
Sciences, Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut; J.R. Hale,
Department of Anthropology, University of Louisville, Kentucky; J.
Chanton, Department of Oceanography, Florida State University,
Tallahassee; in Geology, Vol. 29, No. 8, August 2001, pp. 707 - 710"

This reminds me on a Simpsons episode: People heard the voice of a dead
woman when they stood in front of her statue. Later it turned out that
there was a gas leak in the ground underneath the statue...

Sabine Atkins

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