This Skeleton Is The Oldest Known Ancient Olympic Athlete

Started by gash, August 17, 2016, 10:49:45 pm

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Just days before Christmas in 1959, construction workers in Taranto, Italy, came upon a large stone sarcophagus and pottery vessels in the black-figure style of ancient Greece. As was typical of the time, the bones within the tomb were ignored until bioarchaeologists got permission to examine them in the 1980s. What they found was the skeleton of quite possibly the oldest and only known athlete from the ancient Olympic games.

It had been suspected since the man was found that he had been an athlete in life.  At his left hand was an alabastron, a jar full of ointment that athletes used in ancient Greece. Surrounding his tomb were four Panathenaic amphorae dating to around 480 BC: with Athena on one side and depictions of athletic events on the other, these were just a few of the prizes that victors in the Panathenaic Games of ancient Athens won. Additionally, the discovery of this skeleton in Taranto was important: historical information suggests several famous athletes either came from or trained there. During antiquity, Taranto was part of Magna Graecia, or the Greek part of Italy. When bioarchaeologists finally began examining the "Atleta di Taranto" as he's known in Italian, they found confirmation on the bones that match the historical and archaeological evidence of an athlete.

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