Ancient Olympia w. Dr Judith Barringer

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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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