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Olympics Through Time

We invite you to take a journey through time and learn about the history of the Olympic Games from the time when athletic contests were held during religious ceremonies until the First International Olympic Games in 1896.

It has been one hundred years since the revival of the Olympic Games in March of 1896. Undoubtedly the games that took place a century ago in Athens were a milestone in the history of modern athletic competition. However the Olympic Games and the athletic ideals were conceived many centuries ago in ancient Greece.

Prehistory of the Olympic Games
But before the Olympic games became a recurring Panhellenic festival, athletic competitions had different meanings for various cultures of the Mediterranean. Archaeological evidence proves that ancient Egyptians held athletic competitions and in the Minoan and in the Mycenean cultures athletic competitions were an important component of religious and funerary ceremonies.
The Olympic festival during Antiquity
Modern research focuses on understanding the organization of this great religious celebration held at Olympia, that became a symbol of political and cultural unity for all Greeks in Antiquity. The sanctuary of Olympia imposed its authority throughout the Greek world and the Olympic Games became the symbol of Panhellenic unity. In the Hellenistic and the Roman periods the athletic spirit changed and the Olympic festival became an international institution.

Revival of the Ancient Olympics
The rebirth of the Olympic Games during the 19th century started long before 1896, when the modern Greek state was established. These first attempts by A. Soutsos and E. Zappas and great efforts later on by other Greeks and Europeans helped the revival of the Olympic Games become a reality in Athens of 1896.

Page of the Month: 19th century Athens
Don't miss: A 3D model of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia

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