For a slide show of photos from the First Day of Issue ceremony, click here.

For online press clippings covering the event, click here.

For a detailed schedule of the June 9 program, click here.

For a list of Penn alumni Olympic athletes, click here.

The postage stamp is inspired by this Attic Black Figure Lekythos, ca. 550 BC, depicting two racing runners. University of Pennsylvania Museum Object ID MS739.

Immediately following the official first day of issue ceremony the Museum Shop will be offering a commemorative cachet featuring the 2004 Olympic stamp on a handsome envelope with images of Penn Museum and the ancient Greek vase that inspired the stamp. The limited-edition collector's cachet costs $5 each ($5.35 with sales tax), and will be available throughout the day and beyond, while supplies last. Advance purchases (applicable tax, shipping and handling charges apply) may be made by calling the Museum Shop at 215/898-4040; the cachet will be sent after June 9.


The U. S. Postal Service issued a postage stamp (shown here on left) to honor the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece during a free, public June 9 public stamp dedication ceremony in Philadelphia--at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. (View photos from the event!)

"Just as the Postal Service touches the lives of every American in every city and town in the country, our stamp program continues to touch on the meaningful events in our nation's history, both at home and abroad," said dedicating official S. David Fineman, Chairman of the U.S. Postal Serviceís presidentially appointed Board of Governors. "The Olympic Games Athens, Greece stamps are a most fitting tribute -- not only to the competitive spirit of participating athletes, but also to the unifying Olympic spirit of fair play and international camaraderie."

The 10:30 a.m. ceremony, free and open to the public, took place at Penn Museum, 3260 South Street. A Greek gallery mini-tour, with emphasis on the ancient Olympics, was offered following the ceremony.

As this was a first-day-of-issue ceremony, Philadelphia holds the unique distinction of being the only city in the nation where the stamp was available that day. The stamp is now available at Post Offices and Philatelic Centers nationwide.

Designed by Richard Sheaff of Scottsdale, AZ, and created by Artist Lonnie Busch of Franklin, NC, the stamp art features a stylized depiction of a Greek runner and is reminiscent of the artwork on ancient Greek black-figure vases. An ancient Greek vase from the University of Pennsylvania Museumís collection provided the specific inspiration for the stamp artists (shown on left, second from top). On the stamp, the main figure appears in black; the same figure is repeated in red in front and behind the main figure. A classical design known as a meander or key pattern borders the top and bottom of the stamp. The Olympic rings appear below the denomination. Type along the bottom border reads, "2004 Olympic Games Athens, Greece."

Seventy-one million self-adhesive 37-cent stamps have been printed. To see the 2004 Olympic Games Athens, Greece stamps and other images from the 2004 Commemorative Stamp Program, visit the Postal Service website and view this news release here. Click on "Release Schedule" in the Collectorís Corner.

"We look forward to experiencing the excitement of the Summer Games and to fostering the Olympic ideal of excellence through our stamp program." said Alan Kessler, a member of the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors, who will also participate in the ceremony. "Now, people will have this exciting new stamp to inspire them to similar heights of excellence."

Attendees of the ceremony included Governors Fineman and Kessler are Dr. Judith Rodin, University of Pennsylvania President; Jeremy A. Sabloff, Director, University of Pennsylvania Museum; and past Olympic athletes.

"Weíre proud of the Penn Museumís exceptional collection of ancient Greek artifacts, its in-depth research into the history of the ancient Olympics, and its long involvement in archaeological research and exploration throughout the Mediterranean," said Dr. Rodin. "With the 2004 Olympic Games to be held in Athens this summer, it comes as a special honor and delight for the University, and the University of Pennsylvania Museum, to be able to host the first-day-of-issue ceremony for this yearís United States Postal Serviceís commemorative Olympic stamp."

The first recorded Olympic Games took place in the Greek Sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia in 776 B.C., and were held every four years for nearly 12 centuries. Beginning with a single footrace called the "stadion," the games grew to include other events including boxing, javelin and discus.

The Roman emperor Theodosius I banned the games at the end of the 4th century A.D., but after an absence of more than 1,500 years they were revived in Athens in 1896 under the guidance of French sportsman Baron Pierre de Coubertin. The summer Olympic Games have been held every four years since then, with the exception of 1916, 1940, and 1944, when World War I and II forced the Gamesí cancellation.

During August 13-29, thousands of athletes from around the world will again return to historic Athens. Held in the shadow of the Acropolis and other ancient sites in the city, the XXVIII Olympiad will feature hundreds of competitive events in 28 sports.

Stamps featuring Olympic themes have been popular with collectors since the first modern Olympiad. To help finance the games, Greece issued 12 Olympic-themed commemorative stamps in 1896, and since then many nations have issued stamps that pay tribute to the Olympic spirit. Since 1932, numerous U.S. stamps have honored both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games.

Current U.S. stamps and stationery, as well as a free comprehensive catalog, are available by toll-free telephone order at 1 800 STAMP-24. A wide selection of stamps and other philatelic items also are available at the Postal Store, and offers beautifully framed prints of original stamp art for delivery straight to the home or office.

In anticipation of the summer 2004 Olympics in Athens, the University of Pennsylvania Museum has updated its popular, award-winning website, The Real Story of the Ancient Olympic Games. The site was the brainchild of Dr. David Gilman Romano, Senior Research Scientist at Penn Museum, and Adjunct Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, and a leading expert on the ancient Olympic games. With the updates, visitors can examine modern myths about the ancient Olympics, or view images from the ancient Olympia stadium, where the first games began. Yet another section offers a list of the most famous athletes from ancient times and their accomplishments.

In addition to offering the ancient Olympics website, Penn Museum has on display a selection of ancient Greek artifacts pertaining to athletics, games and the Olympics in the recently refurbished "Ancient Greek World" gallery, part of "Worlds Intertwined: Etruscans, Greeks and Romans" Mediterranean world suite of galleries. Featured are about a dozen items, including ancient vases depicting athletes in a variety of sports, and an ancient "strigil" used by athletes to scrape oil and sand from their bodies.
The pot that inspired the stamp design will be on special display from the First Day of Issue Ceremony, June 9, through September 2004.

The Museum continues to be a leader in the study of the ancient Mediterranean world--and the early athletics that were so much a part of the culture. An archaeologist who has worked for many years at Corinth in Greece, Dr. Romano's current excavation work is in the ancient Greek region of Arcadia: the Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project, a Penn Museum/University of Arizona/Fifth Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, Sparta joint effort. Renowned as a sanctuary of the Greek god Zeus, the site features an ancient stadium and hippodrome in which athletic games for the Lykaion festival were held. The Sanctuary of Zeus at Mt. Lykaion is only 17 miles from its more famous neighbor, the Sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia. A website details the project, which promises to shed new light on our understanding of the history of the games.