The Ancient Olympics
The Ancient Olympics started in 776BC in Olympia and were held every four years in honour of Zeus, king of the gods. The games were held in memory of the Greek hero, Pelops.
Many impressive buildings were built for the games including sports facilities for the competitors and spectators. The Olympic Games were so important all wars were stopped until the games were over. Like today the games were held every four years and were supposed to unite the different people taking part in them. In Ancient Greece only Greek people were allowed to take part in the games as they were often at war.
The Olympic Games provided an opportunity for competition without anyone losing face. Every competitor had to arrive at Olympia at least one month before the games so that their training could be finished while being watched by the officials. The games were held for five days and they were in August or September
In the Olympic Games the warriors wore their armour for running and they also had to carry their weapons as well.
If you weren’t a warrior then you wore a robe or even nothing at all.
In Ancient times Nudity became the ruling in fifteenth Olympiad held in 720BC. Rules had been changed so they knew if it was a man or woman competing.
In wrestling there were three main events. In the first one, upright wrestling, an athlete had to throw his opponent three times to win.. The second type of wrestling was called ground wrestling. The contest carried on until one man gave in. The third, called the pankration and was the most dangerous as any tactic apart from biting and eye gouging was permitted.
This was the oldest event in the Olympics. The track was 192m long and made of clay covered with sand. There were three main events: the stade (one length of the track), the diaulos (two lengths) and the dolichos (twenty or twenty four lengths).
A boxing contest clould last for several hours and was only decided when an athlete lost consciousness or conceded defeat. Athletes would have targeted most of their blows at an opponent’s head, virtually any blow with the hand was permitted. At first the contestants’ hands were bound and later boxing gloves were developed.
The Pentathlon was a competition consisting of five athletic events such as running, wrestling, jumping, discus and javelin throwing. The Pentathlon was designed to finds the best all – round athlete. The Pentathlon was a very demanding competition which required great strength and endurance.
Winners and prizes
Winners were presented with an olive wreath, palm branches and woollen ribbons. They also had a statue made in their honour. On the fifth day of the Olympics some of the prizes were given. The idea of the games was that athletes should seek only the honour of competing and the personal glory of winning. By the fifth century BC some athletes were professionals. They made their living by representing the city states at the various games. Athletes could also reap many material rewards.
A city gained prestige by sponsoring a successful athlete, and would pay him well. Prizes were simple. The overall winner won a simple crown of wild olive, their names were recorded and they were allowed to wear purple robes like a king.
In Ancient Greece woman could not compete and were not allowed to play in the Olympics. Married woman couldn’t even go closer to Olympia during the Games. The one married woman who could present was the priestess of Demeter who represented the Goddess of the Game. Games could not take place without her. Woman found out at the Olympics would be thrown off the cliff. Woman must have been allowed to take part of the games because the Spartan princess Kyniska became the first female Olympic champion.
The Ancient Olympics ended by 395AD when Olympia was destroyed by two violent earthquakes. In AD 1896 the Frenchman, Baron Pierre de Coubertin organised the first modern Olympics. Some ancient traditions have been observed such as the torch relay and the lighting of the Olympic flame.
The Olympics started in 776BC but it did not survive the ancient world for long.
In 4AD the people thought that the games were going against god.
In 395AD Olympia was destroyed by two violent earthquakes.
However the Olympics started again in 1896 and still thrive today.