As the world celebrates the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, the Penn Museum commemorates the ancient Olympics with an artifact in a league of its own.
Now On View
As a way to honor the god Zeus, the first Olympic games in ancient Greece featured a stadion, or footrace, similar to one depicted on a Greek vessel more than 2,500 years ago. That vessel—a lekythos (oil flask) dating back to 550 BCE—is now on view in the Spotlight Gallery, a 360-degree viewing space.
The lekythos was probably created on the island of Euboea in southeastern Greece and was excavated from a tomb in Narce, Italy (about an hour north of Rome). It even inspired a U.S. postage stamp in 2004 to honor the Olympic Games’ return to Greece.
The Spotlight Gallery is adjacent to the 25,000-pound solid red granite Sphinx of the Pharaoh Ramses II, located in the Museum’s Main Entrance.
Watch this video produced by NBC10 for a sneak peek of ancient games depicted in artifacts on display in our Greece Gallery.