Day 2 145 years of excavations at Olympia, Greece

The Athens department, inaugurated in 1874, was the first in a series of departments & commissions that were founded and they still shape the DAI’s global operations today. And with the DAI Athens the era of great excavations also begins, for instance at Olympia…

View of the sanctuary from Mount Kronos after the excavations in the 19th century. The river Alpheios can be seen in the background (Photo: D-DAI-ATH-Olympia 226: anonymos, 1899)

Since the beginning of German excavations at Olympia in the year 1875 the greater part of the sanctuary of Zeus, the Altis and its immediately vicinity, have been excavated. Most of the buildings were severely damaged by earthquakes, flooding and by structural alterations in post-antiquity. The excavations exposed a jumbled mass of stone building blocks; the ground plans of the buildings were barely recognizable. To find out what the buildings looked like and how the temple was laid out, archaeologists over the decades have analysed all the architectural members and determined what buildings they belonged to. They have been partly re-erected on the foundations in cases where enough original members survive, giving visitors an idea of their original form. At the stadium, the entire sports area has been reconstructed. Visitor paths, grassy banks and trees have made the site of the most important Panhellenic festival in antiquity into an attractive park, enhancing the visitor experience.

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