Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Stadium in Ancient Olympia

Olympia was the largest ancient Greek sanctuary in the Peloponnese, equal in importance to that of Delphi. There was no town nearby, neither was the area permanently inhabited; nevertheless, Olympia always remained a sacred place, full of places of worship and works of art as well as auxiliary buildings used during the Games.
The Stadium hosted mainly track events and was a flat area surrounded by hills with seats arranged in amphitheatre style for the spectators. There are no records of what the stadium looked like in the early historical period; however, archaeologists assume that it must have been in about the same position with the archaic stadium, along the Treasures’ balcony.


Towards the end of the 6th century BC, the Stadium was in approximately the same location, but the track was lowered to improve the spectators’ visibility. However, during the 5th century BC, the number of the spectators increased dramatically. This called for a drastic transformation of the area. The new stadium was moved 75 meters to the East and 12 meters to the North.
The track was made of clay and was 212 meters long by 34 meters wide, while the stadium and finishing points were marked by stone valves. The stadium had about 50.000 seats around the track for the spectators, while a small platform was constructed on the south side for the Hellanodikes (umpires).

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