2004
Volume 54 Number 2
  • ISSN: 0165-8204
  • E-ISSN: 2667-1573

Abstract

Abstract

Although ancient Olympia is usually viewed as a Classical Greek site, most buildings that are visible nowadays were not there yet when Pindar celebrated famous victors or Peisistratos and Alcibiades won their races. More generally, even though new research has substantially improved our knowledge, the early history of the site is often still neglected in introductory presentations of the site. In this article some important main issues are discussed. First, new excavations have revealed that Bronze Age occupation of the area cannot be connected to the later cult, as some scholars have argued in the past. The older remains were covered by flooding of the nearby rivers when the sanctuary was founded in the 11th century BCE. Up to the late 7th century the sanctuary remained an open area around a large ash altar. Its main structure was a large dam protecting it from floods. The temple now associated with Hera, built around 600 BCE, was the first monumental building of the sanctuary. Recent research suggests this may originally have been dedicated to Zeus, but this cannot be proven conclusively. The common idea that this temple was originally a wooden construction has now also been debunked.

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