Crypt of the Necromanteion, gateway to the underworld [Images of Research]

I recently submitted this entry to the Cardiff University Doctoral Academy's Images of Research competition, so I thought I'd repost it here.

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This is the crypt at the Necromanteion, in Greek Epirus next to the river Acheron. It is featured in the poems of Homer. In the ancient Greco-Roman world it was thought to be the entrance to the underworld. Adherents would arrive through the labyrinthine passages of a small religious complex above, to be lowered through an opening in the roof of the crypt where the modern steps are now.

I took this image while on a research trip to Greece in 2016. My research is into the destructive effects of Roman imperialism in the period 343-146 BCE, and this site was one casualty of Roman warfare in 168 BCE. It was probably patched up and remained in use; later the grotto was forgotten, and the religious sanctuary transformed first into an Ottoman fortified house and later into a Christian monastery. The ancient crypt remained below, waiting to be rediscovered.

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