Dodona

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Dodona (Doric Greek: Δωδώνα, Ionic Greek: Δωδώνη,[1] Dōdònē) in Epirus in northwestern Greece, was an oracle devoted in prehistoric times to a Mother Goddess known as Dione (also identified at other sites with Rhea or Gaia), and later, in historical times, devoted to the Greek god Zeus. Zeus displaced the Mother goddess in the Bronze Age and assimilated her as Aphrodite.[2]

The shrine of Dodona was regarded as the oldest Hellenic oracle, possibly dating to the second millennium BCE according to Herodotus. Situated in a remote region away from the main Greek poleis, it was considered second only to the oracle of Delphi in prestige. Priestesses and priests in the sacred grove interpreted the rustling of the oak (or beech) leaves to determine the correct actions to be taken. Aristotle considered the region around Dodona to have been part of Hellas and the region where the Hellenes originated.[3] The oracle was first under the control of the Thesprotians before it passed into the hands of the Molossians.[4] It remained an important religious sanctuary until the rise of Christianity during the Late Roman era.

Contents

History

Though the earliest inscriptions at the site date to ca. 550–500 BCE,[5] archaeological excavations over more than a century have recovered artifacts as early as the Mycenaean era,[6] many now at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, and some in the archaeological museum at nearby Ioannina. Archaeologists have also found Illyrian dedications and objects that were received by the oracle during the seventh century BCE.[7] Until 650 BCE, Dodona was a religious and oracular centre mainly for northern tribes: only after 650 BCE did it become important for the southern tribes.[8]

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