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VRO Project News

Press Release: The Virtual Reality Oracle Project

First published: Tue 05 Jan 2021

The University of Bristol, King’s College London, the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, and University of Bath are excited to have been awarded an AHRC project grant to develop the Virtual Reality Oracle.

The oak tree now at the site of Dodona

The Virtual Reality Oracle project brings together ancient history, human-computer interaction, neuroscience and psychology to create a virtual reality experience of the ancient Greek oracle at Dodona in NW Greece. The multi-disciplinary team is led by Prof. Esther Eidinow (Department of Classics and Ancient History, University of Bristol), with Prof. Hugh Bowden (Department of Classics, King’s College London), Prof. Kirsten Cater (Department of Computer Science, University of Bristol), Dr Quinton Deeley (Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London), and Dr Michael Proulx (Department of Psychology, University of Bath).

An oracle was a site where ancient Greek men and women asked the gods to answer questions about the past, the present and the future. As Prof. Esther Eidinow explains—‘Oracles helped ancient society to cope with uncertainty and risk. We are focusing on the oracle at Dodona because thousands of questions have survived from the site, written on lead tablets. They show that the oracle was consulted not only by community leaders, but also by ordinary men and women, including enslaved people. Studying Dodona can help us to understand their experiences better: both how they responded to uncertainty, and how they related to the gods.’

Oracle question tablet from Dodona (c. 525-500 BCE). In this tablet, Hermon asks to which of the gods he should turn in order to get from Kretaia a child that is better than the one he has.

The Virtual Reality Project will run from 2020-2023 and is funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), reference AH/T004673/1. The full press release can be found on the University of Bristol website.