Friday, August 5, 2016

Classroom Connections: #OlympicsDidYouKnow Kick-off!

Ready for RIO?!

Join the UM Museum each day of the 2016 Olympics as we explore connections to Ancient Greek sports and the Museum's David M. Robinson Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities. Are your students studying or following the Olympics? Email student work or photos (with parental permission) to Emily McCauley at for a chance to be shared on our blog and Facebook!

Ancient Connections: 

In honor of the 2016 Olympic Games, which officially start tonight following the Opening Ceremonies, the University Museum will be sharing daily Greek artifacts from the David M. Robinson Collection!
The first Olympic Games were held at Olympia, Greece in 776 B.C. The athletic contests were part of the city’s religious festival honoring the king of the gods, Zeus, who reigned on Mt. Olympus. Besides contests such as boxing, horse racing, sprinting, and sailing, the festival participants also performed plays, read poetry, and gave sacrifices to their gods. The Olympic festival took place every four years, with competitions open to all free Greek city-state males. These games were very important to Greek society; the athletic training prepared them to be strong warriors and their victories brought honor to their gods and glory to their home city. 
Other Panhellenic games were held in cities such as Delphi and Athens with some variation in the prizes given and the contests held. However, it became tradition throughout Greece to award victors with green leafy wreaths made from their regions sacred plant. In addition, a victor’s city might vote him special honors, like free food for his life or a money prize. 

The ancient Olympic Games were part of Olympia's religious festival honoring Zeus, shown here on this Macedonian coin.
The reverse side of the coin features a youth on horseback. He holds a palm branch as his horse prances. At the horse's front right foot you can see a racing torch. Equestrian sports were an important part of the ancient Olympic Games. Watch the equestrian sport dressage tomorrow at the Rio Olympics!
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