The Oracle: The Lost Secrets and Hidden Messages of Ancient Delphi by William J. Broad

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Of all the tales of ancient Greece, few capture the imagination as much as the Delphic Oracle. Human mistress of the god Apollo, the Oracle had the power to enter into ecstatic union with him to bring back his prophecies & counsel for all who came seeking answers. Though the air of magic that surrounds her might cast her as a legend, the Oracle did really exist--& her visions caused her to become the single most influential figure in ancient Greece. Eyewitness accounts detail temple practices, claiming that the Oracle breathed in vapors rising from the temple floor. In 1892 French archeologists unearthed the temple, but found no evidence that the rocky ground had brought vapors of any kind. Science journalist Broad tells a modern-day detective story that blends history & science to describe how a team of scientists, working from subtle clues scattered thru ancient literature, as well as from the latest findings in geology, uncovered scientific evidence to explain the Oracle's powers.

Penguin Press: 2006.
ISBN: 9781594200816. 336 pp.
Hardcover. Very good.