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Archeologists discovered an oracle well, which is at least 1,800-years-old and may be the first ancient oracle to Apollo found in Athens. Moreover, the prophecy at the sanctuary seems to be much older.
According to Haaretz, the oracle well was found by the team led by Dr. Jutta Stroszeck , director of the Kerameikos excavation on behalf of the German Archaeological Institute at Athens. It is the first time that an oracular edifice to Apollo has been discovered in Athens. Although, for centuries it was believed that the center of Apollo's cult was located in Delphi, the most recent discovery may challenge this theory. The oracle well was located in the Temple of Artemis Soteira.
“Water, and in particular drinking water, was sacred. In Greek religion, it was protected by nymphs, who could become very mischievous when their water was treated badly."
In 2012 during some cleaning work on the site, the German Archaeological Institute found that the omphalos was mounted on a marble slab that covered an opening. Last year, the omphalos was raised with a crane to reveal what it had been concealing for thousands of years: a circular well nine meters (30 feet) deep constructed out of semi-cylindrical clay tiles engraved with more than 20 inscriptions of the phrase “ΕΛΘΕ ΜΟΙ Ω ΠΑΙΑΝ ΦΕΡΩΝ ΤΟ ΜΑΝΤEΙΟΝ ΑΛΗΘΕΣ,” which translates to “Come to me, O Paean, and bring with you the true oracle.” Paean was an epithet of Apollo, son of Zeus and brother of Artemis. The repeated phrase was a prayer, an invocation to the deity that he reveal faithful and accurate answers to believers’ questions.
(being lowered into it) The shaft is only about 65 cm in diameter (just over two feet) which makes it a very tight fit for archaeologists to explore. Still, researchers were lowered in cautiously by crane. The style of the inscriptions place them in the Roman period, probably the third century, but the well is likely to have been in place much earlier.