museum was founded by the University of California, thanks to a donation of Rudolph A. Peterson. Destined initially to serve the research and educational purposes of the University’s excavation project at the sanctuary of Zeus, the museum was subsequently donated to the Greek state and in 1984 opened to the public, as Archaeological Museum of Nemea.
Besides the exhibits from the Zeus’ sanctuary, the
include finds from various archaeological sites in the Nemea region, which span from the Early Neolithic to the Byzantine times.
An important unity comprises the so-called
Aidonia Treasure, namely an ensemble of grave offerings from the Mycenaean cemetery at Aidonia village in Nemea. The exhibits date from the 15th century BC and include a unique set of jewelry: gold signet rings bearing
often of a
necklaces, gold sew-on ornaments of garments.
The largest section of the museum exhibition form naturally the finds from the sanctuary of Nemean Zeus. Architectural parts of the monuments are displayed along with artefacts related to the athletic and religious activities that in antiquity took place on the site, sculptures, coins and inscriptions testify to the passage of the ancient visitors of Nemea. But also modern travellers, from the 18th century onwards, illustrated aspects of the area in lithographs, drawings and photos, which today comprise one of the collections exhibited at the museum.
Among the most important exhibits from the site of the sanctuary are:
- Statue base walled in the Guesthouse (Xenon). It bears a boustrophedon inscription (alternate lines written in opposite directions) that reads: "Aristes dedicated me to Zeus, son of king Kronos, because he won the pankration four times at the Nemean Games. Aristes, the son of Pheidon from Claeonai". Dated to ca. 550 BC.
- Bronze hydria with a female head at the lower end of the handle and an inscription on the rim, that labels the artefact as property of the god: "I belong to Zeus at Nemea". The vase is dated to ca. 510 BC but the inscription is later, dating from the 5th century BC.
- Marble Corinthian capital from the inner colonnade of the temple of Zeus. End of the 4th century BC.
- Bronze hellenistic statuette, which is presumed to depict the infant Ofeltes-Archemoros, the mythical local hero and initiator of the Nemean Games.