<<Dodona (Doric Greek: Δωδώνα) in Epirus in northwestern Greece was the oldest Hellenic oracle, possibly dating to the second millennium BCE. According to Nicholas Hammond, Dodona was an oracle devoted to a Mother Goddess who was joined and partly supplanted in historical times by the Greek deity Zeus. Zeus was worshipped at Dodona as "Zeus Naios" or "Naos" (god of the spring below the oak in the sanctuary, cf. Naiads).
In the Argonautica of Apollonius of Rhodes, a retelling of an older story of Jason and the Argonauts, Jason's ship, the "Argo", had the gift of prophecy, because it contained an oak timber spirited from Dodona. The oak was said to be able to speak with a human voice and could tell oracles. Situated in a remote region away from the main Greek poleis, it was considered second only to the oracle of Delphi in prestige.
During classical antiquity, according to various accounts, priestesses and priests in the sacred grove interpreted the rustling of the oak leaves to determine the correct actions to be taken. According to a new interpretation, the oracular sound originated from bronze objects hanging from oak branches and sounded with the wind blowing, similar to a wind chime.
In c. 290 BCE, King Pyrrhus made Dodona the religious capital of his domain and beautified it by implementing a series of construction projects (i.e. grandly rebuilt the Temple of Zeus, developed many other buildings, added a festival featuring athletic games, musical contests, and drama enacted in a theatre). A wall was built around the oracle itself and the holy tree, as well as temples to Dione and Heracles.
In 219 BCE, the Aetolians, under the leadership of General Dorimachus, invaded and burned the temple to the ground. During the late 3rd century BCE, King Philip V of Macedon (along with the Epirotes) reconstructed all the buildings at Dodona. In 167 BCE, Dodona was destroyed by the Romans, but was later rebuilt by Emperor Augustus in 31 BCE. By the time the traveller Pausanias visited Dodona in the 2nd century CE, the sacred grove had been reduced to a single oak
. Pilgrims still consulted the oracle until 391-392 CE when Emperor Theodosius closed all pagan temples, banned all pagan religious activities, and cut down the ancient oak tree at the sanctuary of Zeus.>>