Ancient Olympia w. Dr Judith Barringer

Olympia, Greece, is where the ancient Olympic Games began. Dr Judith Barringer, Professor of Greek Art and Archaeology, The University of Edinburgh, joins the show to discuss Olympia’s ancient history.

Some topics explored

  • Where Olympia is and its associated terrain
  • What Olympia was used for
  • When the ancient Olympic Games are believed to begin
  • Olympia as a site for festivals, sporting events, worship, and public meetings
  • What present-day Olympia is comprised of today
  • If Olympia was ever inhabited
  • The nearby polis (city-state), Elis
  • The Roman travel writer, Pausanias
  • What prayer restrictions existed in ancient Olympia
  • Greek deities that were worshipped
  • Votive offerings, sacrifices, and oracular practices at Olympia
  • Kronos Hill
  • Olympia’s relationship to Greek deities such as Zeus and Hera
  • Myths of how the Olympic Games began: Heracles founding the games in honour of his father, Zeus; Zeus founding the games in honour of his father; a Elis hero named Pelops
  • What scholars believe was the start of the Olympic Games
  • The Olympic Games beginning in 776 BC
  • Interactions that Alexander I of Macedon and Augustus (Octavian) of Rome had with Olympia
  • Statues at Olympia
  • Other Greek deities that were worshipped in Olympia
  • The earliest evidence of worship (i.e., 11th century BCE) and the earliest evidence of occupation (i.e., 26th century BCE)
  • When Olympia was occupied until (i.e., 8/9th century AD)
  • Olympia being being rediscovered by Richard Chandler in the 18th century
  • Why athletes competed and what they could receive if victorious (including a wreath made from an olive tree)
  • Restrictions on people competing at the ancient games, including women, and those that weren’t from a Panhellenic state
  • Heraean Games—An athletic competition that girls competed at
  • The number of people that are believed to have visited ancient Olympia at any given time
  • How Olympia changed after the Romans gained hegemony of the area in Antiquity, including what the Romans had constructed on the site
  • What occurred with the ancient Olympic Games after Roman Emperor Theodosius I issued his decree, Cunctos populos (Edict of Thessalonica)
  • How long the ancient Olympic Games are believed to have gone until

Listen to the episode

The episode can be streamed below and is available on major podcast apps: Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Amazon Music.

Show Notes

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