ANCIENT OLYMPIC GAMES
The origin of the ancient Olympic Games is lost the midst of pre-history, but for many centuries they were only a festival of the Greek people. The Games were first held in honour of the Greek God, Zeus in 776 BC in the plain of kingdom of Elis, nestled in lush valley between the Alpheus River and Mount Kronion, 15 km from the Ionian Sea. The Olympiad celebrated that year was considered as the first and was used to date subsequent historic events. But religious ceremonies and games were held in Olympia before that time. The oldest sanctuary of Greece was there, the altar of the Great Mother of Gods, Rhea (Earth). On the day of the feast, the priest stood in front of the altar, ready to perform a sacrifice. Women were forbidden to be present and the male contestants were naked. Young men waited at a distance on one stadium (about 200 yds). As soon as a signal was given they ran and the first to arrive at the altar received the torch from the priest’s hand and lit the sacrificial fire.
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