The valley, at once spacious and definite, is a natural precinct, and it is probable that no artificial boundaries of the Altis, or sacred grove, existed until comparatively late times.
The result of these six years' labours was, first, to strip off a thick covering of earth from the Altis, the consecrated precinct of the Olympian Zeus.
The coating of earth over the Altis had an average depth of no less than 16 ft.
Remains Outside The Altis A.
- The wall bounding the Altis on the west belongs probably to the time of Nero.
West of the west Altis wall, on the strip of ground between the Altis and the river Cladeus (of which the course is roughly parallel to the west Altis wall), the following buildings were traced.
Just outside the Altis at its north-west corner was a Gymnasium.
Immediately to the east of this doorway was the gate giving access to the Altis at its north-west corner.
- Although the limits of the Altis on the south (i.e.
23) was just outside the Altis, nearly at the middle of its south wall.
East of the bouleuterium was a triumphal gateway of Roman age, with triple entrance, the central being the widest, opening on the Altis from the south.
- The line of the east wall, running due north and south, can be traced from the north-east corner of the Altis down about three-fifths of the east side, when it breaks off at the remains known as " Nero's house."
To the south-east of the Altis is a building of 4th-century date and of uncertain purpose.
This was afterwards absorbed into a Roman house which projected beyond the Altis on the east, the south part of the east Altis wall being destroyed to admit of this.
Only a Roman master could have dealt thus with the Altis, and with a building which stood within its sacred precinct.
It cannot be doubted that the Roman house - from which three doors gave access to the Altis - was that occupied by Nero when he visited Olympia.
Following northwards the line of the east wall, we reach at the north-east corner of the Altis the entrance to the Stadium, which extends east of the Altis in a direction from west-south-west to east-north-east.
The apparently strange and inconvenient position of the Stadium relatively to the Altis was due simply to the necessity of obeying the conditions of the ground, here determined by the curve of the loweslopes which bound the valley on the north.
The entrance to the Stadium from the north-east corner of the Altis was a privileged one, reserved for the judges of the games, the competitors and the heralds.
To the west was a vestibule, from which the Altis was entered by a handsome gateway.
- If the northern limit of the Altis, like the west, south and east, had been traced by a boundary wall, this would have had the effect of excluding from the precinct a spot so sacred as the Cronion, " Hill of Cronus," inseparably associated with the oldest worship of Zeus at Olympia.
- Remains Within The Altis The form of the Altis, as indicated by the existing traces, is not regularly rectangular.
The remains or sites within the Altis may conveniently be classed in three main groups, viz.
The three temples of the Altis were those of Zeus, Hera and the Mother of the gods.
The twelve Treasure-houses on the north side of the Altis, immediately under the Cronion, belong to this class.
The Philippeum stood near the north-west corner of the Altis, a short space west-south-west of the Heraeum.
The Exedra of Herodes Atticus stood at the north limit of the Altis, close to the north-east angle of the Heraeum, and immediately west of the westernmost treasure-house (that of Sicyon).
C. It remains to notice those features of the Altis which were connected with the management of the sanctuary or with the accommodation of its guests.
The Prytaneum was at the north-west corner of the Altis, in such a position that its south-east angle was close to the north-west angle of the Heraeum.
Along the east Altis wall.
Raised on three steps, and formed by a single Doric colonnade, open towards the Altis, it afforded a place from which spectators could conveniently view the passage of processions and the sacrifices at the great altar of Zeus.
The Agora was the name given to that part of the Altis which had the Porch of Echo on the east, the Altar of Zeus on the west, the Metroum on the north, and the precinct of the Temple of Zeus on the south-west.
These images stood at the northern side of the Agora, in a row, which extended from the north-east angle of the Metroum to the gate of the private entrance from the Altis into the Stadium.
A basin, to serve as a chief reservoir, was built at the north-west corner of the Altis: and a supplementary reservoir was afterwards constructed a little to the north-east of this, on the slope of the Cronion.
From these side-valleys water was now conducted to Olympia, entering the Altis at its north-east corner by an arched canal which passed behind the treasure-houses to the reservoir at the back of the exedra.
The drainage of the Altis followed two main lines.
The other, which served for the treasure-houses, passed in front of the Porch of Echo parallel with the line of the east Altis wall.