An omphalos is a powerful symbolic artifact made from stone. Considered the ‘navel of the world’, the central point from which terrestrial life originated, an omphalos was an object of Hellenic religious symbolism believed to allow direct communication with the gods.
According to Greek mythology, Zeus released two eagles at the opposite ends of the world, and commanded them to fly across the earth to meet at its centre. It was at Delphi that the two eagles finally met, and Zeus placed the stone under the glens of Mount Parnassus as a sign to humanity. As this stone is placed at the center of the earth, it was called the “omphalos” stone, the meaning of “omphalos” being ‘navel’. A later legend states that the god Apollo slayed the great serpent Python so that he could establish his oracular temple at Delphi, and that the “omphalos” marked the exact spot where he slayed Python. This myth may sometimes be found on ancient coins which depict an “omphalos” stone with a serpent wound around it.
The archaeological site of Delphi is one of the most important religious sites in ancient times.