Sunday, December 30, 2012

Theatermask of Eleia

Yesterday, I visited the splendid exhibition 'Mythos Olympia: Kult und Spiele' in Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin. The exhibition gave a thorough inside in the Olympic games, which were held in de Greek region of Elis, Eleia (Ἦλις) or modern Ilida, in southern Greece on the Peloponneso peninsula, bounded on the north by Achaea, east by Arcadia, south by Messenia, and west by the Ionian Sea.

The first Olympic festival was organized in Elean land, by the authorities of Elis in the 8th century BC, with tradition dating the first games at 776 BC. The Hellanodikai, the judges of the Games, were of Elean origin. Elis held authority over the site of Olympia and the Olympic games.

The spirit of the games had influenced the formation of the market: apart from the bouleuterion, which was housed in one of the gymnasia, most of the other buildings were related to the games, including two gymnasia, a palaestrum, and the House of the Hellanodikai.

This clay theatermask was found in a depot near the propylons or entrance of the Agora of Elis. It depicts Demeter, the goddess of harvest, or Persephone, the daughter of Zeus and Demeter. It dates from the 4th century BC and is on display in the Archeological Museum of Ancient Elis.

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