Tuesday, June 20, 2017

#OlympicsDidYouKnow Women

Update: This post was originally posted on August 11, 2016 a part of our #OlympicsDidYouKnow series celebrating the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil. It has been updated for 2017's #MuseumWeek, A Tribute to Women!

‪#‎OlympicsDidYouKnow‬ Women were not allowed to participate in the Olympics! Girls and unmarried maidens were allowed to watch the games and congratulate winners by tying colorful ribbons around their heads or limbs, but married women were barred from the stadium on penalty of death!

Map of the Olympic Sanctuary

While they weren't allowed to participate in the main Olympics, we have evidence of an all-female games known as the Heraia that may have gone on just as long as the Olympics. Every four years, 16 women from the city of Elis organized the event and wove a new peplos, a kind of dress, for the statue of Hera in her temple at the Olympic Sanctuary.

The Amazon Women were fierce warriors and competitors in Greek mythology. This amphora displays the Herakles stealing the 

Three divisions of young, unmarried maidens then competed in a foot race that was 5/6 the length a male foot race. Competitors vied for oxen or cow meat from the bulls slaughtered in Hera's honor, the right to have their names inscribed or portraits hung in the Temple of Hera, a newly woven peplos, and an olive crown, just like the male competitors!

View of our "Ancient Women" case in the David M. Robinson Gallery. This is a woman returning home victorious from a sporting competition! 
At the 2016 Olympics nearly half of the competitors were female -- the highest percentage of female athletes of any Olympic games. The 2016 Team USA alone boasted 292 female competitors of 554 total.

Example of peplos

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