Kings of Argos Treasury
Treasury of Athenians
The Temple of Apollo
and the Polygon Walls
A Counterfeit Omphalos Stone?
The Real Omphalos Stone
The Sibel Rock
The name Delphi comes from the Greek word for womb, due to the Neolithic worship of the earth Goddess Gaia on this site. Delphi is also the site of the Omphalos Stone, a phallic image, designated as the centre of universal life. The site has been in constant use for religious and fertility rites since that period.
The Sibel, the prophetess at Delphi took the name of Pythia, from the Python which Apollo slew, whose decomposing body gave off the hallucinogenic gases from where it fell in a split in the rock. However the Sibel Rock is a natural pulpit along side the Treasury of the Athenians on the sacred way, and was used prior to the temple being built and dedicated to Apollo.
The Polygonal wall, a retaining wall built to support the terrace for the construction of the second temple of Apollo in 548 BCE, is named because of the polygonal stones used in its construction. On this terrace the temple was built to Apollo, a God originating in Lydia, celebrating his slaying of the great serpent Python (another phallic image), who had raped his mother Leto when she was pregnant with Apollo and his twin sister Artemis. This scene is represented by the coiling of the serpent about the winged rod in the form of the caduceus, and led to Delphi being the site of the most powerful oracle in all Greece.
The second temple was destroyed by an earthquake in 373 BCE and today's third temple replaced it in 330 BCE.
Delphi is noted for its treasuries, which were built by various city states to house their offerings to the temple of Apollo and the oracle, to which they turned for help and advice. The wealth of these treasuries made Delphi the central bank for all Greece.
Although much depleted, the enigmatic Tholos at the sanctuary of Athena Pronaia, originally a building with 20 Doric columns in the outer circle and 10 in the inner, is still very impressive in its mountain surroundings.
The fall of Greece and the rise of the Roman Empire was due directly to the raiding of these treasuries over the years, by the Macedonians under Philip, the Celts, and finally the Romans led by Sulla.
The Oracle continued during Roman occupation, but was finally closed and the site abandoned in 395 CE by Theodosius.
As on all archaeological sites in Greece, there is a lot of restoration work now going on after centuries of neglect and pillaging.