Delphi: The Bellybutton of the Ancient World

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What really went on at the ancient Greek oracle at Delphi, how did it get its awesome reputation and why is it still influential today? Michael Scott of Cambridge University uncovers the secrets of the most famous oracle in the ancient world. The programme investigates the oracular sanctuary of Delphi in ancient Greece and asks how it managed to survive as the omphalos, the bellybutton, of the ancient world for over 1000 years and what Delphi still has to say to us today. The programme examines not just the activity of the oracle at Delphi, but the stories of the many other gods, athletic games, monuments to unity and civil war that populated the sanctuary, showing how Delphi evolved to reflect and affect the changing world around it. With locations ranging from the grandeur of Delphi to caves in the Parnassian mountains, from the glory of Athens to the cosmopolitan city of Istanbul, and with contributions from French, British and Greek archaeologists, this documentary helps unravel the mystery of the place. A vital force in ancient history for a thousand years, it is now one of Greece’s most beautiful tourist sites, but in its time it has been a gateway into the supernatural, a cockpit of political conflict, and a beacon for internationalism. And at its heart was the famous inscription which still inspires visitors today – “Know Thyself”.