Wednesday, 27 June 2012
Olympian water works
While I was in the Peloponnese, I spent a few hours at Ancient Olympia again. I wanted to find the alleged swimming pool near the gymnasium which I had not had time to look for before. It features in many of the reconstructions of about the time of The Boy with Two Heads and I included it in the story. It was not used in competition, it seems - just for cooling off and perhaps for training. This reconstruction is of about a century later.
I found lots of venerable rubble in the area where it must have been, but no sign of the thing itself. Of course, there have been 24 centuries of wild goings on at Olympia since then, so it's not exactly surprising.
I did find a strange square hole, but it looks more Roman than Greek to me and therefore possibly 500 or so years later.
I also saw a possible bath (though I think it's more likely to be a water trough).
So not quite a swimming pool. There had been lots of rain, though, and everywhere was green and lush. On my way back I crossed the Alpheios River higher up the valley by the road over a large dam.
A wide modern aqueduct takes water along beside the river towards Olympia and the coast. I can't imagine what that will all look like in 2000 years ...
[There are lots of websites about Ancient Olympia, and many of them perpetuate misunderstandings and even mistakes. I find the visuals on the Wikipedia site the clearest.]