Extensive deposits filled with ash and votive offerings from the sanctuary of Olympia indicate the existence of an early long cult tradition dating back to the 10th century and on. Since no buildings have survived from this early period, we must assume that these earliest offerings were placed directly on the altars, or displayed in open.
The region of Elis organized the first Olympic festival in the 8th century BC.
According to the tradition, the Olympic games were first held in
Elis' authority and power was largely weakened in the 7th century, after a series of
conflicts with its neighbours, especially the Pisatans in the south. Then, the
sanctuary came into the hands of the Pisatans, who gained control of Olympia in
The first indications of building activity in the site date from the early 6th century BC.
It is now that the worship of Hera appears in Olympia, and Hera's large Doric temple
is built on the site.
Built in ca.
The construction of other religious monuments such as the Pelopion, namely the shrine of Pelops, and the Treasuries, was undertaken in Olympia during the 6th century BC.
The Pelopion, remodelled in the 6th century BC, was dedicated to Pelops, the mythical founder of the games. It was a monument surrounded by a pentagonal enclosure. Here, people honored Pelops by sacrificing a black ram.
The Treasuries were temple-shaped monuments, built by the representatives of the Greek city-states which participated in the games, in order to store valuable votive offerings. They were erected on the natural terrace adequately levelled on the southern side of the Kronion hill. Sicyon was the first to dedicate a treasury. The Treasuries were situated in the following order moving from west to the east: Sicyon, Syracuse, Byzantion, Sybaris, Cyrene, Selinus, Metapontium, Megara and Gela. Most of these cities were colonies in the west and played an important role in the sanctuary and the games.
Secular monuments and athletic arenas were also under construction: the Bouleuterion, the seat of the highest council, in charge of all matters in relation to the sanctuary and the games, was now built. It consisted of two elongated structures with internal colonnades. Nearby was the altar and statue of Zeus Orkios (Zeus of the Oath) whereby the athletes were taking the oath during the first day of the games.
Stadium I was constructed around
In the 6th century,
other Panhellenic festivals
such as the Pythian Games at Delphi, the Isthmian Games, and the Nemean Games were held
for the first time in 590, 582, and
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