Day 7: Competing at Olympia
by Phoebe Martin and Saul Dorado
The day began at Acropole Delphi Hotel with breakfast at 7:30 up until 8:15. People gathered in a line and served themselves breakfasts from eggs to fruit to pastries in a buffet sort of fashion and sat down around together discussing what we had done the previous night as a class. We all prepared for the four-hour bus trip ahead of us and got onto the bus with our carry-on bags.
Midway through our journey to Olympia we stopped at a large bakery to either use the water closets or get a snack at the cafe as the Olympian site and museum would’ve had more expensive and fewer options. So many options were available from sweet to savory, I got to try what I thought was a potato pie slice yet it turned out to be sweet. I believe it was to be a milk custard pie which was good and had a flaky savory D-shaped cheese puff pastry.
Afterward we were back on the road as if it were a road trip to some other state. Once we arrived at the site we walked towards the Philippeion where Hollande gave a brief presentation on the round circular structure then we proceeded to the temple of Hera which was the temple of Zeus previously and walked along the temple. My personal favorite part of the site was going to the stadium which felt like the stadiums today as it had a rounded tunnel to the entrance. Although there was no seating it still felt bigger than life walking in. The stadium held track and field events with a start and finish line at either end of the area and lacked grass or vegetation on the strip. A touring group besides us raced as Rebecca gave a presentation on the area and thereafter a few of us raced, Nolan won by a long shot!
The race felt like we were Olympians competing against one another funny enough. Then we had a couple more presentations on the temple of Zeus and the altar of Zeus. The temple of Zeus was grand as one of the columns stood around 20 meters tall when Nolan mentioned it and the altar of Zeus was nowhere to be found as Chloe said the altar was made of organic material like bones and ash. The last site we saw was the workshop of Pheidias in which Michael presented and Dr. Goldman allowed us to think about why the workshop had a different structure to it in the inside… turns out the workshop was transformed to a church by Christians as the structure had a cross on the wall but also because Dr. Kennedy mentioned the circular nature of what could’ve been an altar of some sort (KENNEDY NOTE: It was the apse added on when the workshop was converted to a church).
After a short break, we moved inside to escape the looming rain clouds and explore the Archaeological Museum of Olympia! We were free to explore the museum after Drs. Kennedy and Goldman lectured about a few key artifacts. They encouraged us to investigate the detail on the marble Nike of Paionios to determine the period in which it was carved (Classical), We also noted that it was a very avant-garde statue, featuring mild female nudity which was atypical for the period.
We also visited a room dedicated to displaying many artifacts from Pheidias’ workshop. There were lots of molds for creating the clothing on the chryselephantine statue of Zeus, shards of glass used in creating its adornments, and the cup of Pheidias. AJ told us about the stories depicted on the pediments on the ruined Temple of Zeus. We marveled at the high-gloss finish on the Hermes of Praxiteles, a marble copy of an originally bronze statue depicting the god Hermes holding baby Dionysus.
We were then released to explore the museum and sketch artifacts. I chose to draw a few of the decorations on the roof of Pheidias‘ workshop, since I loved how geometric they were and I am always excited to see extant paint on any of these objects.
After the museum, we checked into our beautiful hotel in Olympia and were free to explore the city! There was a pretty spectacular thunderstorm in the evening as well, reminding us all about Zeus’ significance in this area.
PS. Phoebe found a cat and tried to bring it with us.