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Greece Reopens Stadium of Ancient Nemea

Stadium Nemea
The Nemea Stadium played a big part in the ancient Olympics. Credit: Michael F. Mehnert, CC BY-SA 3.0/Wikipedia

The 4th century BC stadium of Ancient Nemea in the northeastern part of the Peloponnese, in Greece, reopened on Wednesday to visitors after years of neglect.

The stadium had been closed due to a lack of adequate security measures. The effort to reopen it involved the Society for the Revival of Nemean Games, the Nemea mayor, the Antiquities Ephorate of Corinthia, and the Culture ministry.

“Ancient Nemea is one of the most significant archaeological sites of Greece,” Alternate Development & Investments Minister Christos Dimas said on Tuesday.

“The importance of its Museum, the Temple of Zeus and the Stadium attract the interest of thousands of visitors from Greece and abroad annually, and have turned the region into a cultural attraction.

Ancient Nemea was revived due to the work of Stephen Miller

“This is something we all owe Stephen Miller,” Dimas said, citing the late archaeologist and professor.

Miller devoted his career to the site’s excavation, particularly of the temple and the stadium, and founded the society for the modern Nemean games.

Ancient Nemea Miller
Miller directed the excavations of Ancient Nemea from 1973 to 2005. Credit: Greek Reporter

Following five decades of research and excavations, Miller, who died in August 2021, left behind a legacy to Greece and the world of the Nemean Games.

Miller made headlines worldwide for his work uncovering the ancient athletic site where the Panhellenic games were held. He also revived the games, as international footraces, open to all, held at the ancient site every four years.

The archaeologist, a professor emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley, directed the excavations of Ancient Nemea from 1973 to 2005. Miller became an honorary Greek citizen in 2005.

The retired academic recovered and preserved a vital part of ancient Greek history and his efforts are nearly as impressive as those same ancients.

“All of us are Greek someway, somehow, even if there is no blood or DNA,” the American archaeologist of Nemea had told Greek Reporter.

Miller spoke with Greek Reporter a few months before he passed away to discuss the second cancellation of the Seventh Revival of the Nemean Games due to the pandemic. “For more than a quarter century I have had the personal thrill of seeing the ancient Nemean stadium, that I discovered, return to life,” Miller said.

“To see people of all ages from every corner of the planet put their bare toes in the ancient starting blocks, to see puffs of dust on the ancient track, to hear the stadium echo with the cheers of hundreds of modern voices, and to see ‘ancient’ runners crowned with wild celery has been gratifying,” said the American archaeologist.


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