Archaeologists in Athens, Greece, have discovered a 1,800-year-old well used as an oracle to communicate with the mythical god Apollo.
The well was discovered in the Athens neighborhood of Kerameikos, which is also being excavated for a bathhouse dating back 2,500 years.
As Haaretz reports, members of the the German Archaeological Institute at Athens first discovered the excavation site in 2012, and have since made progress on determining the purpose of the well, buried deep beneath a marble opening in the ground.
The well reportedly contained inscriptions pleading with the god Apollo to bring his oracle to the well so that wishes may be granted, such as requests for good health or true love.
Dr. Jutta Stroszeck, who oversees the area's excavation for the German Archaeological Institute at Athens, told Haaretz that the city of Kerameikos was popular for religious activity, such as oracles.
"In such areas, the presence of divine and the supernatural were experienced intensively, which is why cult and mantic activities are dense in such areas," Stroszeck told the media outlet.
There have been numerous important archaeological discoveries spanning Europe, including the recent unearthing of military barracks dating back 2,000 years in Rome, Italy, by construction crews digging the city's new subway system.
The barracks, dating back to Emperor Hadrian's time, were discovered as city officials dug the new C subway line at the Amba Aradam station.
Archaeologists speculate that the barracks were used to house the emperor's personal body guards, as well as jewelry and weapons.
Rossella Rea of Rome's Culture Ministry told The Telegraph that researchers are fortunate for the city's construction work, as the barracks would not have been discovered using ordinary digging measures due to their massive depth.
"The remains of the barracks were found 9 meters beneath street level, a depth which makes it almost impossible to detect ancient structures with even the latest instruments," Rea said. "It was a wonderful surprise. The barracks date from the first half of the second century AD and were abandoned in the third century when the Aurelian Walls were built around the city."
Another discovery in France has shed light on the lives of Neanderthals dating back 170,000 years.
The discovery was made in the Bruniquel Cave in the south of France, where archaeologists believe Neanderthals broke off about 400 stalagmites from the cave walls and formed them into circular barriers on the floor, possibly to contain fire or conduct some sort of ritual.
Archaeologists have hailed the discovery as highly important, as it sheds light onto to the possible rituals of Neanderthals, as well as showing their ability to create structures.
Jean-Jacques Hublin, a palaeoanthropologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, said in a recent report for Nature that researchers are still unsure as to why the structures were built in the first place.
"The big question is why they made it," Hublin said. "Some people will come up with interpretations of ritual or religion or symbolism. Why not? But how to prove it?"