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Necromanteion or the oracle of the dead in Greece

Updated on July 25, 2014
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Jim is a traveler, a blogger, a free journalist. A man who loves to travel, to write about the places he loves, about the people he met.

What is Necromanteion?

The Necromanteion was one of the places of ancient Greece where pilgrims came to talk to the dead or to their beloved ones who had passed away. The temple is also known as the oracle where our world was connected to Hades, the underworld, where the souls of the dead where taken by the boat-man Acheron to the other world. And it was not a nice place to stay.

Calling the dead and the whole ceremony while calling the dead in the Necromanteion, which lies now 20 km near Parga, had a name : nekiya, which means the ritual when living people called the dead to ask them about the future. The Oracle of the dead in Greece, Parga was, thus, a temple. Oddysseus, the great greek hero came here to ask what he should do in order to return home where his wife, Penelope, was still waiting for him after the war of Troy and after wandering over the seas for more than nine long years. And not only him. Achiles also was brought here by his mother while going to the River Styxx, only a few km nearby the Necromanteion.

Picture of the Necromanteion

Necromanteion, the oldest oracle of the dead in Greece.
Necromanteion, the oldest oracle of the dead in Greece. | Source

Necromanteion

A
Greece:
Grecia

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The Necromanteion can be visited in Greece, near the city of Parga.

How one could talk to the dead?

According to Herodotus, the Necromanteion was the most important oracle among the others in ancient Greece.
It was here where even the great kings came to ask about their dead ancestors and talk to them. Now we have mediums who help the ones who believe that they can really talk to their fathers, mothers or other close persons.

In that time and we are talking about the 1st century BC, the Necromanteion was a kind of theatre, were the celebrants who wanted to speak to the dead had to face many challenges : after local, strange narcotics, they were led to some corridors, had to answer questions and leave offerings from time to time. At the ending of this initiation, a priest appeared, apparentely from nowhere and spoke about the dead. Achiles(we know him from the Troy's Brad Pitt), Agamemnon and all the other great heroes in Greek mythology came here to find what the gods or the underworld ghosts were planning for them.

View to the Necromanteion, the oracle of the dead in Greece
View to the Necromanteion, the oracle of the dead in Greece | Source

When did the oracle stopped talking...

After hundred maybe thousands of years when the Greeks have come and talk to their dead, Necromanteion or the oracle of the dead was destroyed.

It is interesting that while the pilgrim passed through corridors and gates or the Oracle of the Dead he was asked questions by the holly guide and he found answers to his questions only at the end of this journey. The Necromanteion was not the only oracle of this kind in Greece or, later, in the Roman Empire. We find such temples also in a cave at Cape Matapan, in southern Greece, where the Spartans built another home of Hades or in Heraklea Pontica in nowadays Turkey, known as the modern city of Karadeniz Eregli, at the Black Sea. Necromanteion is the oldest oracle in Greece.

Necromanteion was burnt and destroyed by the Romans while their expansion in 167 BC. It was described by Homer in the 8th century BC, by Herodotus in the 5th century BC and was discovered and excavated in 1955.

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