The omphalos sculpture is a rare and important sacred artifact to ancient Greece, steeped in mythology. The piece is composed of marble and shaped like a beehive with a hollow interior. The sculpture stands approximately at 1.64m in height. Around the exterior, it features detailed woolen threading known as "agrenon," a design feature crucial to the textile-focused aspect of Greek life.
The omphalos was considered to be the center of the world by the ancient Greeks. According to Greek mythology, Zeus sent two eagles flying from the eastern and western extremities of the world to meet at its center, the "navel" of the Earth. The stone at Delphi was marked as this symbolic center, known as the Omphalos, meaning "navel" in Greek.
The Omphalos is closely associated with the Oracle of Delphi, one of the most important religious sites in ancient Greece. The oracle was situated on the slopes of Mount Parnassus and was considered the most prestigious and authoritative oracle among the Greeks. It was here that the Pythia, the priestess of Apollo, delivered her prophecies.
The Omphalos stone itself was kept in the Temple of Apollo at Delphi and was thought to allow direct communication with the gods. The stone was often represented as a conical or dome-shaped object, sometimes adorned with a network pattern, believed to symbolize the knotted net that covered it, or the intricate connection of the earth.
Throughout history, the Omphalos not only symbolized the spiritual and geographical center of the Greek world but also served as a powerful symbol of religious and cultural unity among the Greek city-states. It represented a point of convergence for the spiritual and the material, acting as a conduit for divine wisdom and guidance.
The actual Omphalos stone that was venerated at Delphi has not survived, though several representations and copies from antiquity have been discovered. These replicas provide valuable insights into the religious and cultural practices of the ancient Greeks, as well as the symbolic significance of the Omphalos in their cosmology and mythology.