There are signs that this wreath was damaged in a fire which suggests that that it was used as a funerary wreath and became scorched during the burning of a funeral pyre.
A wreath made from wild olive branches, also known as kotinos, was
the prize for the winner at the ancient Olympic Games. According to
Pausanias, the sacred olive tree at Olympia, from which the champion’s
wreaths were made, came from the land of the Hyporboreans. It was
brought to Olympia by Herakles and planted near the temple dedicated to
his father, Zeus, in his honor. Legend says that it was Iphitos who
first used a crown of wild olive leaves from sacred tree, called the kallistephanos, to crown victors at the Olympic games.
wreaths were also made for the champions of the Panathenaic Games in
Athens. Mythology says that these wreaths were made from the sacred
olive tree that grew from where Athena struck her spear on the ground at
the Acropolis. For the ancient Greeks, the olive tree was a symbol of
peace, wisdom and triumph.
Gold wreaths were made imitating their
natural counterparts in various forms, including oak, olive, ivy, vine,
laurel and myrtle. Most of these trees or plants have associations with
various deities. Because of their fragility, gold wreaths were probably
not meant to be worn very often, only during special functions. They
were also dedicated to the gods in sanctuaries and placed in graves as
funerary offerings for wealthy or important people. Though they were
known in earlier periods, gold wreaths became much more popular in the
Hellenistic age, probably due to the greatly increased availability of
gold in the Greek world following the conquests of Alexander the Great.