How did the buildings at Delphi disappear?
In the ancient Mediterranean, paganism was outlawed in 391 AD. Following this, during the fifth and sixth centuries AD, houses, ceramic workshops, ovens and at least two cisterms were built over Delphi's athletic compound. Blocks from the temple of Athena were being removed and homes were being built first in the areas to the west and east of the temple of Apollo, and later in the temple itself. Monumental dedications were themselves turned into houses, and a number of fairly wealthy houses and baths have been identified. There was a gradual movement towards Christian worship at Delphi and there is evidence of at least three basilicas.
To cut a long story short, in 1880, France made an informal agreement with Greece to excavate, but when negotiations took rather longer than expected, archaeologists from Germany and America joined in. France was finally successful and agreements were signed in 1891. Work began in autumn 1892 with the first task being the relocation of the village of Castri: 1000 building plots with 300 owners. I found this particularly fascinating to read about, and if interested, I would recommend the final two chapters of Scott's book which deal with this phase of Delphi's history in detail.
This brings me to our forthcoming Delphi course, in which Dr Kolotourou will examine the history and changing character of Delphi as a centre of worship from its beginnings in the early first millennium BC to its decline in late antiquity. She will use a wide range of material and literary sources and the class will examine the physical remains of the sanctuary. Participants will consider the religious activities that took place in the sanctuary, how the sanctuary was governed, and how the oracle operated.
A few places remain on this 6-week course starting on Thursday 20th October, 8-9pm UK time. Fees are £42 for the course. All material will be provided and no knowledge of ancient Greek is required. Click the button to register.