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Year 3 History and Geography

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Ancient Greece - The Birthplace of the Olympics

olympic discus thrower

The UK was honoured to host the Summer Olympic and Paralympic games in 2012, and there was a lot of buzz surrounding the games. Have you watched the Olympic games on the telly or have you been lucky enough to attend some of the events? If you have, then you know how exciting it is to see some of the best athletes from all around the world come together to compete in many sports, such as running and swimming in the Summer Olympics, or skiing and skating in the Winter Olympics.

Do you know where the Olympics first started? Did you know that the first Olympics were held in Ancient Greece more than 2,500 years ago? The Ancient Greeks loved athletics. Every four years, they would hold a week of games at a place called Olympia. The best athletes would gather to run, jump, wrestle, throw weapons and race chariots and horses.

The Ancient Greek Olympics were somewhat different from our Olympics today. The Ancient Greeks held contests in music and poetry, which are not part of our modern games. In Ancient Greece, only men were allowed to compete, and they did not wear uniforms. In fact, they didn't wear anything at all! Today, the winners receive medals and the national anthem of their country is played, but in Ancient Greece winners were crowned with a wreath made of wild olive leaves.

The statue pictured, called the Discus Thrower, is very famous and well known. It is currently on display in the British Museum in London, where you can see it for yourself. The original sculpture was made in Ancient Greece over 2,400 years ago, but it has been lost sometime during those many years. This is a copy that is also thousands of years old and was made in ancient Rome. The statue shows a discus-thrower, who was an athlete who competed in the ancient Greek Olympics. A discus is a heavy disc that weighed two kilograms and was twenty centimetres across. That's pretty heavy! It was thrown in track and field athletic competitions to see which athlete could throw it the farthest distance. Discus throwers, and many other types of athletes, were known for their strong muscles.

The ancient Greeks gave us the Olympics, but they also gave us much more. Ancient Greece is the birthplace of many of the ideas and beliefs that are still important to us today, which we'll find out more about in What Your Year 3 Child Needs to Know.



This activity is adapted from page 147 of What Your Year 3 Child Needs to Know, which can be purchased here.

This activity has cross-curricular connections: click below to see the related activity.

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