Delphi’s Omphalos answered this ancient question for an entire age.
Among the mysteries housed in the ancient Temple of Apollo, next to the Adyton chamber where the Pythia cast her oracles for almost two millennia, the Omphalos – the belly button of Greek civilization – stood as a constant reminder of the power and importance of Delphi in the Western world.
While the known carvings of the Omphalos are copies – one housed at the Delphi site in ancient times – re-carvings and depictions show a conical stone covered with an elegantly woven net or corded shroud. But it’s not entirely clear what the original stone was.
The most prominent ancient Greek legend says it was the stone wrapped in swaddling clothes and presented as baby Zeus to his father Cronos, bent on swallowing all his children to avoid being deposed by one. When Zeus successfully ousted Cronos and took the throne, he sent eagles out to locate the center of the world. They met at the Omphalos at Delphi, where it had landed when Cronos spit it out.
What was the nature of the original stone? Some suggest it was a meteorite – one that fell to the earth at a crucial point in history or that was simply so spectacular that the heavenly object was worthy of worship.
A prominent physicist Anthony L. Peratt postulates that the Omphalos, like many ancient petroglyphs and artifacts, represented a shaft of plasmic light from geological and auroral activity around the 4th millennium BCE. He relates the symbolism of serpents and wings associated with the Omphalos and similar objects to obvious light patterns in the discharges that were identified by the ancients as “cosmic poles.” These events and their perceived origins were deeply meaningful and universally revered.
The object at Delphi is not the only Omphalos in the world. There are many examples around the Mediterranean and beyond. It’s understandable that the Greeks – like most ancient people – would relate myths and spiritual importance to heavenly events. But in this class Delphi once again holds the most prominence in the ancient Greek world – right down to its belly button!
Now, here’s the cheese on this Brain Burger.
3 other ancient “belly buttons” you’ve never heard of:
- The Belly Button of Paul Bunyan – Brainerd, Minnesota
- The Navel of St. Hubbins – Squatney, East London
- Fossilized Yutyrannus binky – Liaoning Province, China