An ancient Olympic stadium at the archeological site of Nemea

The ancient Greeks celebrated festivals at Nemea that were part of the cycle of Panhellenic Games at Delphi, Isthmia and Olympia. Nemea is also known for the legend of Herakles who killed the Nemean lion and used its claws to remove the skin, which he used as a coat of armor (Birge).

One of the most important ruins at the Nemean site is the Temple of Zeus. It's unknown when it was first built, but it was reconstructed at the end of the 4th century BC when a new temple, baths, hostel and stadium were added (Nemea). The Sanctuary of Zeus, which was constructed in the 6th century BC, was used for events of the ancient games. The sanctuary contained many monuments, such as a bathhouse and a shrine, as well as an altar (Miller).

The ancient bath was discovered in 1924 by excavators from the University of Cincinnati and the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. It is estimated to be designed in the 4th century. In 1982, excavators discovered a water reservoir in the same area (Birge).

The stadium housed games every two years, unlike Olympia which held games every four years. The stadium accommodated 40,000 spectators. The site is estimated to have been created in 330 BC along with a tunnel to allow a grand entrance for the athletes (Miller).

The archeological site at Nemea has undergone many excavations. The first of these excavations taking place in 1766 and again from 1844-1912 by the French School of Archeology at Athens. From 1924-1926 the American School of Classical Studies continued this work. Extensive restorations took place from 1973-1986 by the University of California at Berkeley (Nemea). Today Nemea populates slightly more than 7,000 citizens and is mostly rural and produces products such as wine, olive oil and raisins.

Birge, Darice, Lynn Kraynak and Stephen Miller. Excavations at Nemea. Berkeley, California. University of California Press.

Miller, Stephen. Nemea: A Guide to the Site and Museum Berkeley.

Nemea. Hellenic Ministry of Culture.

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