Here lies the legendary destroyer that carried Greece’s goldJune 15, 2023
On this Greek island is the most beautiful road in the worldJune 29, 2023
Built on a hilltop, near the village of Mesopotamos in Preveza, is the oldest oracle of the dead of antiquity, the Necromancy of Acheron. Here the ancients placed the gates of the Underworld, the entrance to the realm of Hades.
The excavations at the Acherontas necromancy were carried out in 1958-1964 and 1976-1977 under the auspices of the Archaeological Society and it was the first known sanctuary and oracle of the gods of the underworld.
The main part of the sanctuary dates back to the early Hellenistic period (late 4th - early 3rd century BC), while in a second settlement phase, at the end of the 3rd century BC, a complex with a central courtyard was added to the west of the original sanctuary, around which there were rooms and storerooms. These were spaces used by the priests and visitors to the sanctuary for their accommodation.The sanctuary in this form functioned uninterruptedly for about two centuries. Its operation ceased in 167 BC when the Romans conquered Macedonia.
At the beginning of the 18th century, the monastery of St. John the Baptist was built on the site, which is still standing today.
Architecturally, the Acheron necromancy can be compared to a magnificent funerary monument, as they were formed at the end of the 5th century BC in Asia Minor and in the East for the burial of prominent persons.
The worshippers would enter a dark corridor and the priest would lead them to the appropriate places for their preparation. They remained there for a few days following a ritual of physical and mental "cleansing" before passing into the great dark hall to meet the souls of the dead.
The scene that had been set up - a well-organised construction and carefully thought out by the priests for the needs of the oracle - still gives rise to shivers today.
The visitor, today, during his tour of the archaeological site, descends a steep iron staircase to enter an underground hall, carved into the rock, which is supported by 15 arches of limestone.
The imposing space is completely silent, almost eerie... And what really impresses is the miraculous soundproofing of the room!
The particularly remarkable acoustics of the underground hall in the Acheron necromancy could not but be put under the microscope of modern researchers.
According to recent studies by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, in the underground room, where silence reigns... at the edge of the tomb, the acoustic values are close to the acoustics of the anechoic chambers (very well soundproofed rooms). At the same time, the reverberation time of the room is extremely low.
After years of research, the researchers concluded that the space was deliberately constructed to create intense psychoacoustic effects for the visitor.
The ancient Greeks had therefore managed to create, for the needs of the oracle, a simulation of the underworld where darkness and absolute silence reign!
The earliest reference to the Necromancy of Acheron is made by Homer in the Odyssey, when Circe advises Odysseus to meet the blind seer Tiresias in the underworld and get an oracle for his return to his homeland (K 488 ff.), and immediately afterwards he gives the exciting description of the descent of Odysseus, a mortal, to Hades (L 24 ff.).
The similarity between the Homeric description and the location of the necromancer's mantelpiece is striking, a fact that Pausanias observes almost a thousand years later, assuming that Homer must have seen these places (1.17.5). However, in Greek mythology other heroes had also ventured on this descent to Hades: Orpheus to bring to earth his beloved Eurydice, Hercules to bring King Eurystheus Cerberus, the three-headed guard dog of the exit from Hades, and Theseus and Perithus to snatch Persephone.
The earliest use of the hill where the necromancy is preserved dates back to the Mycenaean period (14th-13th century BC), to which three children's graves with few finds date back.
Later, a sanctuary dedicated to the deity of the Earth must have been founded on the site, as shown by pottery shells and clay figurines found at the western foot of the hill, dating back to the mid-7th century BC. The surviving remains of the necromancery date back to the Hellenistic period.