Art, Gender and the Ancient Olympic Games

Bronze Running Girl (photo courtesy of The British Museum)

Bronze Running Girl (photo courtesy of The British Museum)

For anyone interested in culture and history the Olympic Games are like a slice of heaven.  An event that has been around for hundreds of years which has grown to where over 200 countries cross and come to represent their home.  The ancient games began as a sporting festival and is full of legends and mystery.  Of course we can learn some truth to these mysteries by looking at the ancient art that is still around today.

One artifact that stands out to me is the bronze statue of a running girl which is on display at The British Museum.  Today many women athletes showcase their skills at the Olympics.  In fact, all countries participating in the 2012 summer games sent female athletes to the competition.  In the past gender was a limitation to participating in sports.  The bronze statue suggests there was a sport that women were allowed to compete in, a foot race.  Although the event was not technically part of the Olympic Games, many ancient historians believe it was held in four-year intervals.  The tradition of the foot race may be one of the oldest games that took place in ancient Olympia where both men and women competed.

The bronze statue believed to be discovered in Prizren, Serbia depicts a young women wearing a short tunic  in a stance that I can only describe as a strong sprinting pose.  It is 11.4cm high and Peloponnesian style.  This beautiful artifact dates to 520-500 B.C.

For more on the bronze running girl click here

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