SMYRNA: Ancient Greek Prophecy Centre continued operating centuries after Christianisation

Smyrna Apollo

The ancient city of Claros, the world’s oldest prophecy centre located in Turkey's western province of Smyrna (Σμύρνα, Turkish: İzmir), has been actively used by the Greeks more than initially known, until the end of the 8th century, an adviser for the excavation team announced.

Until today, Claros was believed to be “abandoned with the beginning of the rise of Christianity,” Onur Zunal, an expert consulting the excavation team, told the daily Milliyet on August 30.

“Historians assumed that citizens left the site thinking that the importance of Claros ended with the start of Christianity."

However, with the help of new findings, the team figured out that “Claros was used until the end of the 7th or the 8th century.”

Zunal did not mention what the “new findings” were but highlighted that “the abandoning of Claros has nothing to do with the occurrence or the rise of the Christianity.”

“The site was used as a sacred place for more than we knew,” he added.

Claros is known as the world’s oldest oracle centre.

The centre is believed to have been established in the 13th century B.C. at the time of the Mycenae civilization and later dedicated to Apollo, the Greek God of prophecy.

The head of the Claros excavations, Professor Nurdan Şahin, explained the system of the centre in an interview in 2016.

“Representatives from delegations that governed the cities asked questions. When oracles came out of the room where they had fasted for 24 or 48 hours and where water was consistently boiling, the clergyman whispered the question in one oracle’s ear.

“The oracle then reentered the room, broke the fast, washed his hands and face, and asked the question to God.

"He later told the answer, which he received through inspiration or revelation, to the clergyman. The answers that were about cities and countries were inscribed on tablets and the tablets were erected in front of the temples.”

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