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The Ancient Stadium of Nemea was constructed 400 m. southeast of the temple of Zeus in Nemea and had a sitting capacity for 40.000 visitors. The American School of Classical Studies (University of California) conducted excavations at the Stadium in 1974-1981. The excavations were headed by the professor St. Miller.

It’s a 178 m. long track bordered by a stone water channel with stone basins for gathering drinking water. At the southern side of the track is the stone starting line.

The athletes, the trainers and the judges would prepare in the “Apodyteria, a changing or locker room housed in a simple rectangular building with a interior colonnade on the western side. They got undressed, spread oil on their bodies and warmed up before they entered the vaulted tunnel and reached the track, the Stadium.

On the track, you can see a few steps from the starting line, a square base with a socket where a vertical joist used to stand. Runners would use it to turn during long-distance races.

The spectators sat makeshift tiered sheeting, carved in the soft rock, while two or three lines of stone seats were located between the starting line and the tunnel. Along the eastern side of the track, 30 m. north from the starting line, there is a row of square rocks and it is very believed to have supported the judges wooden stand. They were all dressed in black because they were mourning of the loss of baby Opheltes, in whose honor these games were held.

The Stadium, that hosted the games every two years, was constructed in the 4th century B.C., as part of the reconstruction program for the restoration of the Sanctuary. In about 270 B.C. the games were transferred to Argos, although Aratos of Sykion in 235 B.C. attempted to host the games again in Nemea. For a period of time the games took place in Nemea and Argos alternatively, but finally were transferred permanently to Argos. Today, the Dome of the tunnel of the Stadium has been restored.

#mythicalpeloponnese

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