Originated in Greece Were held between the different city–states They were always held at Olympia The games were held to honor the god Zeus Ancient Olympics
8 Interesting Facts • Ancient Olympic athletes competed in the nude!!
Yes, that's right - ancient Olympic sportsmen (all men, by the way) ran, wrestled, and fought buck naked. Why naked? Well, to appreciate and celebrate the male physique, of course, and as a tribute to the gods. Participants regularly anointed themselves with olive oil to enhance their looks ... and to keep the skin smooth! In the sixth century, there was an actually attempt to make athletes wear loincloths, but this proved to be unpopular and soon afterwards nudity regained its status as fashion in athletics.
8 Interesting facts • Winners won olive branches
Yup - that's because the Ancient Olympic Games didn't have any medals or prizes. Winners of the competitions won olive wreaths, branches, as well as woolen ribbons. Oh, that and the all important honor. They did, however, come home as heroes - and got showered with gifts there. Many victors subsequently used their fame to endorse products and to get paid posing for sculptures and drawings (just like today, huh?)
8interesting facts 3. Olympics were more than just running – boxing and wrestling added to the games
Tired of all the running, a new game of wrestling (called pale) was added to the 18th Olympics in 708 B.C. Greek wrestling was a bit more fun than your regular high school wrestling. For one, submission holds were allowed (actually, they were encouraged) and a referee could punish an infraction by whipping the contestant with a stick until the undesirable behavior stopped!
Later, Ancient Greek boxing was added. Now, some historian believed that boxing was originally developed in Sparta. Being the original tough guys, Spartans believed that helmets were unnecessary in battle. Instead, they boxed themselves in the face to prepare for battles! In the Ancient Olympics, there were no rounds - boxing was done when a fighter was knocked out cold (if the fight lasted too long, then they each took turn punching each other in the head until one collapsed).
4. The Olympic games weren’t the only ones… 8 interesting facts
Those Greeks sure did love their sports! The Ancient Olympic games were actually just a part of four sports festival called the Panhellenic Games: - The Olympic Games, the most important and prestigious game of them all, was held in honor of Zeus every four years near Elis.- Pythian Games was held every four years near Delphi in honor of Apollo- Nemean Games was held every two years near Nemea, in honor of Zeus- Isthmian Games was held every two years near Corinth, in honor of Poseidon The games were arranged in such a way that there was one going on (almost) every year.
8 interesting facts 5. Olympics were for men only
Married women were banned at the Ancient Olympics on the penalty of death. The laws dictated that any adult married woman caught entering the Olympic grounds would be hurled to her death from a cliff! Maidens, however, could watch (probably to encourage gettin' it on later).
8 interesting facts 6. Women had their own games
Women had their own games, which took place during Heraea, a festival worshipping the goddess Hera. The sport? Running - on a track that is 1/6th shorter than the length of a man's track on the account that a woman's stride is 1/6th shorter than that of a man's! The female victors at the Heraea Games actually got better prizes: in addition to olive wreaths, they also got meat from an ox slaughtered for the patron deity on behalf of all participants!
Overall, young girls in Ancient Greece weren't encouraged to be athletes - with a notable exception of Spartan girls. The Spartans believed that athletic women would breed strong warriors, so they trained girls alongside boys in sports. In Sparta, girls also competed in the nude or wearing skimpy outfits, and boys were allowed to watch (to encourage gettin' it on later marriage and procreation).
8 interesting facts 7. During the games, all of Greece was under a truce
During the games, all of Greece was under a truce – there could be no use of capital punishment, and no wars or battles. This was in order to ensure the safety of competitors and spectators on the way to Olympia. While this was generally adhered to, at least one account exists of a possible breach by the Spartan army, which resulted in a large fine and a ban from attending the games that year.
8 interesting facts 8. Christianity killed the ancient Olympics
The Romans, who conquered Greece, viewed the Olympics as a pagan festival. So, in AD 393, Roman Emperor Theodosius I banned the Ancient Olympics in part to institute Christianity as a state religion. The Olympics was no more ... until it was revived 1,500 years later in 1896.
Your job… • Invent a new Olympic sport that would be fun to watch and play! • There are many unusual Olympic sports, like skeleton (running and then sledding) and curling (using brooms to propel an object over ice). Make up a new sport that would be fun to watch and play.