Rainfall exposes bronze bull at Olympia

A small bronze figurine of a bull from the Geometric Period (1050-700 B.C.) has been discovered at the Temple of Zeus in Olympia. Heavy rainfall had exposed one its horns which caught the sharp eye of archaeologist Zacharoula Leventouri. The bull was excavated and removed to the laboratory of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Ilia where it was cleaned and conserved.

The figurine is intact and in excellent condition. Atop its stylized slim form are comparatively large forward-facing horns like an aurochs, the iconic wild bull which at the time this figurine was made still roamed southern Greece. It was found in the sacred grove of Alteos, the open-air enclosure that was the earliest precinct dedicated to Zeus at the site in the 10th-9th century B.C. (The classical Doric temple was built much later in the 5th century B.C.) The wee bull was a votive offering, one of thousands made by the devout of Zeus at the Olympia sanctuary during the Geometric Period.

The bull, like the horse, was one of the most important animals for human survival and the creation of civilization until modern times. Thus he acquired this special role in the worship of the gods of antiquity, that is, to be a beloved object which was dedicated by the faithful to their consolation, by supplication or as a sign of pleasure.

Like dozens of similar figurines depicting animals or human figures, the bronze bull seems to have been offered by a believer at the time of the sacrifice, as evidenced by the strong burn marks on the sediments and sediments removed during its purification. A large number of figurines found in the thick layer of ash from the altar of Zeus that covered the entire ‚Äč‚ÄčAlteos area is exhibited in the second room of the Archaeological Museum of Olympia and is indicative of the importance of the Sanctuary of Olympia as a Panhellenic center.

The figurine will now be studied by archaeologists to narrow down its typology and chronology.