Far to the north is the Prytaneion where the
Prytaneis, the high priests, were in residence, not only
during the year of the Games, but permanently. Inside the Prytaneion was the
ever-burning fire of Hestia,
goddess of hearth and home. When sacrifices were made at Olympia, fire was taken
from Hestia's hearth to ignite the sacrificial fire at any of the other altars.
Priests, who tended Hestia's fire, lived and ate
in the prytaneion, where honored guests were entertained. While the priests
entertained many dignitaries, the prime function of the priests was overseeing
the religious aspect of Olympia, for which every Greek had a zealous attitude.
No sacrifice, no ceremony, no swearing in of judges or contestants, no treaty
council could be held unless at least one of the Prytaneis was present.