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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

Archaeological Museum of Olympia Highlights

The West Pediment of the Temple of Zeus - Battle of Lapiths and Centaurs

Archaeological Museum of Olympia Highlights

The Archaeological Museum of Olympia, in Olympia, was the first museum to be established in modern Greece outside of Athens. The museum collection includes objects from prehistory to its time up to the early Christian period from Olympia the site of the Ancient Olympic Games. Below are some of the highlights of the museum.

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Nike of Paionios

The Nike of Paionios is an ancient statue of the Greek goddess of victory, Nike. The statue shows Nike landing gently on her left foot, with the drapery blown against her body and behind her. Created by Paionios in 425–420 BC, he created a masterpiece with a sense of buoyancy, speed, and grace. This restored depiction was created from the many precious fragments excavated at Olympia in 1875.

Nike of Paionios - Archaeological Museum of Olympia

Nike in ancient Greek religion was a goddess who personified victory. Her Roman equivalent was Victoria. Nike is seen with wings in most statues and paintings, with one of the most famous being the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Nike is the goddess of strength, speed, and victory and is one of the most commonly portrayed figures on Greek coins. Famous Nike statues were commissioned and erected after significant victories.

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Hermes and the Infant Dionysus

Hermes and the Infant Dionysus is an ancient Greek sculpture of Hermes, and the infant Dionysus discovered in 1877 in the ruins of the Temple of Hera, Olympia, in Greece. According to the myth, Zeus gave the infant Dionysus to the care of Hermes to hide him from Hera’s wrath, as Dionysus was the only god born from a mortal mother and Zeus. Hermes is represented in the act of carrying the child Dionysus to the nymphs who he charged with his rearing. The uplifted right arm is missing but may have held out to the child a bunch of grapes to symbolise his future as the god of wine.

Hermes and the Infant Dionysus - Archaeological Museum of Olympia

The Olympia site was hit by an earthquake during the reign of the Roman emperor Diocletian in the last years of the 3rd century C.E, resulting in the collapse of the roof of the Temple of Hera and burying this statue in the rubble.  The excavations uncovered the body consisting of head, torso, legs, left arm of a statue of a young man resting against a tree trunk covered by a mantle. A thick clay layer above it protected the statue, so it was in a good state of preservation. Further excavations uncover the rest of the figure as it is displayed today.

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Statue of Zeus and Ganymede

This Statue of Zeus and Ganymede depicts Zeus carrying the boy Ganymede off to Mount Olympus. This Archaic Greek terracotta was created in the first quarter of the fifth century and found at the Archaeological site of Olympia. The sculpture depicts a Greek mythology story, in which Zeus falls in love with Ganymede’s beauty and abducts him to serve as cup-bearer in Olympus.

Statue of Zeus and Ganymede - Archaeological Museum of Olympia

This Statue of Zeus and Ganymede is one of the earliest works of Greek art in which the eyes are depicted more expressively and not just directly staring straight ahead as was previously the norm.

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Archaeological Museum of Olympia

Quotes about the Olympics

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“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.”
– Pierre de Coubertin – founder of the modern Olympic Games

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“If you fail to prepare, you’re prepared to fail”
– Mark Spitz – Nine-time Olympic swimming champion

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“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
– Michael Jordan – double Olympic champion, basketball

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“You have to believe in yourself when no one else does — that makes you a winner right there.”
– Venus Williams – four-time Olympic gold medalist, tennis

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“I don’t run away from a challenge because I am afraid. Instead, I run toward it because the only way to escape fear is to trample it beneath your feet.”
– Nadia Comaneci, gold-medal gymnast

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“Never put an age limit on your dream.”
– Dara Torres – four-time Olympic champion, swimming

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“This ability to conquer oneself is no doubt the most precious of all things sports bestows.”
– Olga Korbut four-time medalist, gymnastics

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“The Olympics remain the most compelling search for excellence that exists in sport, and maybe in life itself.”
– Dawn Fraser – Australian Olympic Champion

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“Holding an Olympic Games means evoking history. ”
– Pierre de Coubertin

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Photo Credit: JOM

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