Tour audio

Tour audioGods and Mortals at Olympus: Ancient Dion, City of Zeus (Past Exhibition)

Seulement en Anglais

From the time of Homer, the gods were thought to inhabit the awe-inducing and eerie landscapes of Mount Olympus. This belief, passed down in the writings of Greek and Latin authors over a millennium, made Olympus the heart of Greek mythology and one of the most enduring symbols of Greek civilization. While the top of the mountain remained the exclusive residence of the gods, mortals began to settle at its foothills. The city of Dion was eventually established at the conclusion of Olympus’s eastern slopes, on a plateau rich in natural springs, rivers, and oak forests. As introduced to us through the words of Thucydides in fifth century BC, Dion was a gateway to Macedonia and a sacred center for the cult of Olympian Zeus and the Muses. It was where the Macedonian kings entertained their friends and foreign visitors, held lavish banquets, and gifted gold and silver wine goblets to their guests. It was there that Alexander the Great once erected a royal tent with a hundred couches, and addressed his companions and officers, in a personal effort to alleviate their gloomy moods and inspire enthusiasm for a great campaign in the east. Dion’s prosperity peaked after it became a Roman colony, especially during the second and third centuries AD. After that, the city of Dion gradually fell into the obscurity of the Middle Ages. Its past glory disappeared under the thick vegetation that consumed its ruins, and its magnificent sculptures sunk in the mud of the rushing waters that had once made its baths a famous destination. Over a thousand and four hundred years passed before William Martin Leake, a British military officer and traveler, discovered it again. It took another century for an official excavation on the site to begin.


Curated by Dimitrios Pandermalis, President of the Acropolis Museum and Director of the excavations at Dion since 1973, the exhibition will grant the public access to the ancient city’s daily, cultural, and religious life. These works are a selection from the thousands of artifacts that have been unearthed at the site in the course of forty years of systematic and scientific archaeological excavation. Images and videos of the city’s ruins and natural landscapes will immerse the visitor in the original natural backdrop of the artifacts, and bring the ancient city of Dion to life.

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  • Sarah

    5 out of 5 rating 06-11-2016

    Excellent overview of the exhibition

  • el

    5 out of 5 rating 05-12-2016

    had great docent talk by PhD Columbia Univ. student