The archaeological site of Olympia ranks among the most important historic sites of Greece. Here, the ancient Olympic Games begun. The site incorporates all remains of the athletic premises used for the preparation and celebration of the Olympic Games, administrative and other buildings and monuments. With the summer Olympics, the winter Olympics, the youth Olympics, etc. almost every year the ceremony of the lighting of the Olympic flame takes place.
MONUMENTS and highlights
Temple of Zeus, Temple of Ηera, Voulefterion, Ancient Olympic stadium, Ancient gymnasium, Palaestra, Leonidaion hostel, Workshop of Pheidias, Theokoleon, Zanes (penalties to cheaters), Philippeion, thye 7 Echo Hall, The Metroon, Altar of Zeus, Altar of Hera, Prehistoric building, Pelopion, Nymphaeon, the villa of Nero, Baths, Heroon, Hostels, Leonidaion baths, Kladeos baths, Kronion baths, Olympia’s Treasuries, the Hippodrome.
Since 1875, the excavation and preservation of Ancient Olympia has been the responsibility of the German Archaeological Institute of Athens. The first major excavation of Olympia began in 1875, funded by the German government after negotiation of exclusive access by Ernst Curtius. Other archaeologists involved for the dig were Gustav Hirschfeld, George Treu, Adolf Furtwängler, A. Boetticher, Wilhelm Dörpfeld, and Richard Borrmann. They excavated the central part of the sanctuary including the Temple of Zeus, Temple of Hera, Metroon, Voulefterion, Philipeion, the 7-echo Stoa, Treasuries and the Palaestra. Important finds included sculptures from the Temple of Zeus, the Nike of Paeonius, the Hermes of Praxiteles and many bronze statuettes. In total 14,000 objects were recorded. A large collection of the finds are displayed in the museum on the site.
Excavation was continued by Dörpfeld between 1908 and 1929 but a new systematic excavation started in 1936 on the occasion of the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin under Emil Kunze and Hans Schleif. Their excavation focus was on the area to the south of the stadium, the South Stoa, the Bath Complex and the Gymnasion.
1950 to present
Between 1952 and 1966, Kunze and Schleil continued the excavation joined by architect Alfred Mallwitz. They excavated Pheidias’ workshop, the Leonidaion and the north wall of the stadium. They also excavated the southeast section of the sanctuary and out of approximately 140 debris pits found many bronze and ceramic objects along with terracotta roof tiles.
Mallwitz took charge of the excavations between 1972 and 1984 revealing important dating evidence for the stadium, graves, and the location of the Prytaneion. From 1984 to 2000, Helmut Kyrieleis took over the site and the focus shifted to the earlier history of the sanctuary with excavation of the Prytaneion and Pelopion.