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Dedications: Olympia

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Archaeological Development

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Ritual Activity

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Rules and Regulations

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Other Activities

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Historical Significance

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Who used the site, and where did they come from? 

The ancient Greek sanctuary of Olympia was located in Elis, in western Peloponnese, near the Alpheios and Kladeos rivers, and hosted the Olympic Games every four years, from 776 BC onwards. The Olympic Games were held in a stadium which could seat 40,000 people.

During early 8thcentury citizens of Elis and the neighbouring cities were the only ones who were involved, however from the 7thcentury visitors from all over Greece came to visit. The site was even popular during Roman times, as we can see from Pausanias’ account of Mummius’ dedication at Olympia: “On the outside of the frieze, which runs around the temple [of Zeus] at Olympia above the columns, are twenty-one gilded shields, dedicated by the Roman general Mummius after he had conquered the Achaeans, taken Corinth, and expelled the Dorian inhabitants”. [1]

One of the well-known dedications to Olympia was the helmet of Miltiades. Miltiades was a general who commanded the Athenian and Plataean forces against the Persians at the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC. Although the helmet is quite battered now, an inscription of his name, Miltiades, can still be seen across the cheek.

Select Site Bibliography

Pausanias, Description of Greece, trans. W.H.S Jones (Cambridge, MA: Harvards University Press, 1918).


[1] Pausanias, Description of Greece, 5.10.5

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Site Plan

Plan Olympia sanctuary-en.svg