Nemea ( ancient Greek Νεμέα, pasture ' ) is the name of an ancient Zeusheiligtums in Greece, located about 35 kilometers southwest of Corinth in the valley of the same name in the Peloponnese. It was the site of the Nemean Games, the Nemeen.


Like any other ancient sanctuary was involved the establishment of Nemea and the agonal games in a certain mythical context. It may seem surprising at first that apparently two Aitiologien the founding exist. So ancient authors call for a the heroes Heracles, the Nemean Lion, a child of Typhon and Echidna, strangled as the first of his twelve working with bare hands. Because with normal weapons he could not be wounded. In gratitude for this victory, Heracles founded his father Zeus, the sanctuary along with the games. However, the connection between the killing of the monster and the establishment of Nemea was not until the 1st century AD, instead, at a time when, in the sanctuary was probably long since abandoned to decay.

The second revealed aition for the establishment of the Nemean Games originates from the sagas of the Seven against Thebes. Is the Nemean king Lycurgus, who is mentioned in several sources as a priest of Zeus, a Delphic oracle had warned before to put his son Opheltes to the ground before he could walk. Lycurgus trusted the nurse Hypsipyle, queen of Lemnos and the former lover of Jason, to the child. In order to show the seven generals who came on their way to Thebes via Nemea a source Hypsipyle bedded the child but on wild celery. A large snake strangled then Opheltes, which the seer Amphiaraus gave the name Archemoros, " the beginning of the Todgeschicks ", and thus foresaw the disastrous outcome of the campaign. To appease the gods favorable, held from the seven funeral games for Opheltes - Archemoros whose winner was crowned with celery.

History of Research

One of the earliest excavations in the area of Nemea in 1766 undertaken with the financial support of the London Society of Dilettanti. However, is a privileged Search architectural sculptures of the temple was unsuccessful. Since the derivation of the high ground water at the time of Turkish rule was suspended, further excavations could only be taken after a French engineer team had in 1883 drained the valley. However, the following year and also in 1912 made ​​by French archaeologists efforts to expose the sanctuary did not achieve the desired result, so the École française d' Athènes 1924 ceded their excavation licenses for Nemea at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Under the direction of Bert Hodge Hill and Carl Blegen were in three campaigns extensive parts of the sanctuary, as the altar, the Bad and the western part of the xenon discovered. Overall, the excavation area was extended by more than an acre.

In the following decades Nemea moved out of the focus of archaeological interest. It was not until 1962, the American archaeologist Charles K. Williams for two years the excavations again, where he focused in particular on the Temple of Zeus. Since 1973, leading the University of California, Berkeley, in continuous campaigns the research of the sanctuary continued. The main excavations were completed in 2001.

The Sanctuary

From the Shrine a Heroon are still (probably the Opheltes ) obtained from the early 6th century BC as well as some treasure houses, also a large bathroom for the athletes with more washing troughs.

The main attraction of the sanctuary was and is the temple of Zeus. A first building from the 6th century BC, was destroyed in the 5th century. About 330 BC, a new building was built in the Doric style, the columns of which were below the Corinthian and Ionic above inside the cella with material from Cleonae. Such a mixture of styles can also be found in the Temple of Apollo at Bassae and in the temple of Athena of Tegea. Another special feature of this temple is a kind of crypt in the back of the cella, possibly a Adyton.

The temple of Zeus (status 2006)

The temple of Zeus ( state in June 2007)

The temple of Zeus ( state of October 2011)

The temple is reconstructed using the existing debris. The progress of the work is documented on the pictures above.

The stadium

To the stadium include a locker room with a colonnaded courtyard and an arched passage as access for the athletes. In this passage two Kalos inscriptions are still visible. The visible today building dates from the 4th century BC and reached approximately 40,000 spectators, who stood on the bare ground. The starting system consisted (as in Isthmia ) from wooden pegs on which cross beams were fixed, which could be lowered with a cable to simultaneously release the track for all runners. The track length is about 178 m.