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Ancient Olympics
Origins of the Games
Wrestlers are seen on 510 B.C. sculpture, at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens

Origins of the Games


In a four-part Discovery special, Olympic triple-jumper, Jonathan Edwards takes a look at the original Olympic Games.

The Games at Olympia were religious Games dedicated to Olympian Zeus, the King of the Gods.

Although most people accept that the Olympic Games started at Olympia in 776BC, it’s now thought that Games were being held at Olympia more than 200 years earlier.

But Greeks had started using Games to celebrate their deities thousands of years before the Olympics began. Some archaeologists believe that the very first Games were part of a fertility cult that celebrated the Gaia, the Earth Goddess, more than 3500 years ago.

The Games at Olympia came to an end in 435AD, when the Emperor Theodosius issued an Edict banning the use of pagan structures. As the Games were dedicated to the pagan god Zeus, it was impossible to continue the Games without his Temple.

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BBC Sport Olympics 2004
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