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A history of the olympic games an athletic event tradition from ancient greece

The Olympic Games began over 2,700 years ago in Olympia, in south west Greece. Every four years, around 50,000 people came from all over the Greek world to watch and take part. The ancient games were also a religious festival, held in honour of Zeus, the king of the gods.

There were no gold, silver and bronze medals. Winners were given a wreath of leaves and a hero's welcome back home. Athletes competed for the glory of their city and winners were seen as being touched by the gods. A truce for the sacred games The ancient Olympics wasn't just about the sport, it was a religious festival too. Find out what it was like to visit the ancient games. Transcript PDF 69 Kb Before the games began, messengers were sent out to announce a 'sacred truce' or a peace.

This meant that any wars should be called off so that people could travel safely to Olympia. The entire games were dedicated to Zeus. Visitors flocked to see the Temple of Zeus. Inside stood a huge gold and ivory statue of the king of the gods himself.

The main event at the Olympics was not a sporting event, but a sacrifice. On the third day of the games, 100 oxen were sacrificed and burnt on the Altar of Zeus.

The Olympic Games

This altar was not made from stone. Instead it was made from the leftover ash of all the sacrificed oxen. By around 200AD, the mound of ash stood six meters high! What events were at the ancient Olympics? Click on the athletes to find out more about some of the sporting events at the ancient games This content uses functionality that is not supported by your current browser. Consider upgrading your browser. Women at Olympia Married women were not allowed at the Olympic Games.

However, one story tells of a mother so keen to see her son compete that she broke the no-women rule and got in disguised as a man. Only men, boys and unmarried girls were allowed to attend the Olympic Games.

Married women were barred. If they were caught sneaking in, they could be thrown off the side of a mountain as punishment!

  1. For a complete list of modern Olympic Game location sites, click here. Athletics were of prime importance to the Greeks.
  2. The first athletes to win the decathlon twice were Bob Mathias of the United States, in 1948 and 1952, and Daley Thompson of Great Britain, in 1980 and 1984. Competing as unofficial representatives, the ten-man squad reached Athens barely in time to participate.
  3. The emperor Nero , never one to miss a chance of showing off, tries his luck as a competitor in the 1st century AD.
  4. The festival and the games were held in Olympia see 'Did you know' in the glossary , a rural sanctuary site model shown here, courtesy of the British Museum in the western Peloponnesos. Centuries later their example is enough to inspire a revival.

However, women could still own horses in the chariot races at the Olympics and unmarried women had their own festival at Olympia every four years. This was called the Heraia and was held in honour of Hera, Zeus's wife. Winners were awarded crowns of sacred olive branches, the same as men. But in ancient Greece, only Spartan women were really interested in sport.

Take a tour of Olympia This is the stadium at Olympia.

How did the Olympic Games begin?

It was built during the 4th century BC and it was the largest of its kind at the time. It could seat 50,000 spectators! These are the ruins of the Temple of Zeus. Inside stood a giant statue of Zeus made from gold and ivory.

It was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World! These columns once stood along the edge of the Palaestra.

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This was a space where Olympians could practise their boxing and wrestling. This is the remains of the gymnasium. Athletes went here to practise events that required a lot of space, like the javelin, discus and running.