Trip 2, Part 2: Olympia

The site of Olympia is massive and impressive.  The buildings are immense and the efforts needed to excavate the site — digging through 4 meters of river sediments — are almost beyond belief. 


The enormous, tumbled-down columns of the temple of Zeus are far more impressive than the solitary re-erected column which not only seemed out of place, but strangely irrelevant in this expansive monument to ancient athletic and modern archaeological ambition.


Most people, of course, go to Olympia to see the elegant little church in the workshop of Phidias with its well-preserved chancel screen and interesting Early Christian inscriptions.


Or perhaps the tourist in search of the sensational turns sharply to the right when entering the museum to see the largest displayed collection of Slavic pots in all of Greece.  Breathtaking to be sure — concise monuments to culture change.


In a tragic way, this year, the fires stole the spotlight from finds even as impressive as these.  The Kronos hill bare of trees:


The entire neighborhood of the village surrounded by the haunting silhouettes of the incinerated countryside:


Olympia was amazing.  Nancy Bookidis, Assistant Director Emerita at the Corinth Excavations provided an excellent and detailed tour of the site supplemented ably by the Regular Member’s well-considered site reports on major monuments.  Judy Barringer provided excellent insights into the sculpture of from the pediment of the Temple of Zeus (if one could get over the impression made by the Slavic pots).  Jack Davis fleshed out the prehistoric period at the site. Finally, the students were politely attentive during my presentation of the Late Roman phase of the site including a completely gratuitous discussion of the epigraphical evidence for Late Roman land tenure from the church at Olympia (this was all the more impressive considering it was raining!).  

  1. September 9, 2009 at 8:23 am

    I didn’t notice back in 2007 that you had posted photos of the famous Slavic pottery. Very nice. I don’t think any better images exist.

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