Twilight of the Gods: Greek Cult Places and the Transition to Late Antiquity

Conference Paper

Regional Studies II
Saturday 2021-10-16
12:00 | 14:00
Place: Swedish Institute at Athens & Zoom

The Tenant and the Altis. New Research on Olympia in Late Antiquity

Stefan Lehmann & Andreas Gutsfeld, 2021-10-16, Time: 12:00 - 12:40


When Theodosius I decided to ban pagan cults across the Roman Empire in 391/392 AD, the worship of Zeus at Olympia came to an end. However, this did not seal the fate of the ancient and glorious Olympic Games, which continued in an adapted form according to the Christian requirements. It was only around 420 AD that the city of Elis decided to give up both the games and the sanctuary. 

From now on, the Roman state took possession over Olympia by means of long-term tenant leases. As a result, substantial works took place over the entire sanctuary area, which were brought to an end without any significant interruption in the second quarter of the 5th c. AD. 

This paper will examine how the tenants dealt with Olympia’s pagan architectural and cultural heritage, particularly with the Altis, which formed the sacral centre of the earlier sanctuary, and their attempts to bring this into line with the Christian policy of the Roman state.

About the Author(s)

University of Halle & Université de Lorraine

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