Olympia turned into a tent city during the Sacred Games. People came from all over Greece and there was no permanent accommodation, so each city was allocated its own space and hundreds of tents sprang up. One can only imagine what the place looked like after thousands of men trampled the ground for a week. I'm thinking something like Glastonbury during the festival.
Okay, now what were the tents made of? It's a minor detail, but this is the sort of thing I have to get right. This turned into a mercifully quick piece of book research. Probably half of you already know the answer, but I didn't and I can't resist telling.
The obvious answer is canvas, but did the Greeks have canvas?
The answer is yes. In fact, according to the Shorter OED, our word canvas derives from the name of the material the Greeks used to make it: κάνναβις. Let me help you with that word. The kappa at the front is an English k of course, but often written as a Roman c. The two v-like letters in the middle are actually nu and have an n sound. The squiggle at the end is an s. Which gives us the English word: cannabis. Not only is the English cannabis precisely a Greek word, but canvas was made from hemp.
Canvas and cannabis are cognate. Now that I know it, it's obvious, but I never would have guessed.